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Kakunodate Samurai houses

12 September 2007

We went to Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture on Saturday, it was about 3 hours away from Misawa. It looked like it was gonna rain all day, but when we got there it cleared up nicely, and in fact got pretty warm. We got lucky too, cause they were having a festival when we got there. The festival was very similar to the Nabuta, except that it was during the day and not lit up. It seemed like the whole town was in it too, cause there were tons of people dressed in costume. Well, the first place we stopped in town was the Ishiguro Samurai manor. It was really well preserved, and tastefully decorated. The first room we saw was a room where high ranking guests would be given tea and refreshments. The second room is one that they used during the spring and summer because it opened up onto the garden. Then the rest of the house was turned into a museum that displayed implements used during that time period, including some pretty kimonos.

The next place we visited was called the Aoyagi Samurai Manor, and was quite a bit bigger then the Ishiguro manor. Here’s the link to their site: http://www.samuraiworld.com/english/index.html The main gate was pretty big and architecturally impressive, apparently that is a sign of prestige in feudal Japan, and it “symbolized the social prestige of their owners. It was built after the family was given special permission by the lord of Kakunodate as a reward for their contribution to the domain.” The grounds are really beautiful, I’ve attached a map of the grounds that was on the back of the pamphlet they gave us. The main house itself has a thatched roof which I found interesting, cause it had plants growing outta it XD It’s cool though, cause they re-thatch it every year or so.

The armory was pretty cool, they had all sorts of weapons like spears, armor and swords on display. The folk museum was interesting too, it had lots of different folk art on display and a ton for sale. I got little usagi (bunny) and neko (cat) dolls made outta hand woven fabric, they’re really cute D A lot of the “items on display have been designated as important cultural properties from the national, prefectural or municipal governments.”

OMG, the pond was crazy, it had a dozen giant koi (carp) in it. I mean these things were at least 2 feet long, and they kinda freaked me out XD

We didn’t eat at the restaurant there, cause we figured it’d be way overpriced, it did look pretty though. So instead we opted for some soba at a restaurant down the street. We had some cold soba that was really good especially since it was getting pretty darn warm outside by then. We walked around a bit more then, and stopped at a tea house, and had some very good tea made the traditional way with the whisk and powder. It came with a cute little sweet made from mochi and filled with azuki bean paste, which is a very common filling for Japanese sweets. From anime you’ll probably recognize taiyaki (see the pic below) which is filled with the bean paste. We didn’t have any taiyaki there though, but it’s a very common festival food. I’ve even found some sold at malls from vendors.
Well, I think that’s it for today. We’re not going on another trip till the end of October, but I keep trying to remind myself to bring the camera with me to the mall. I’ll see what I can do.

A pretty garden.

A comfy room.

Hand woven items.

Sword hilts.

A family shrine, it has white fox statues in it, but I’m not sure what the significance is.

Giant carp!

A well.

I’ve entered this in the Sanrio Town’s Travel the World Event: http://blog.hellokitty.com/traveltheworld

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