Kakunodate is an ancient town on the Western side of the main island of Honshu. It is here the samurai families built their power, potion and wealth, and where you can still go to experience life as it was in 18th century Japan. I get there by train from Tokyo, just under four hours takes me from a modern city to the historic samurai past.
With mountains on three sides, Kakunodate is both picturesque and protected. I took two days timeout to spend in a local inn, enjoying the traditional cuisine and the ryokanstyle hospitality. Using my computer while sitting on the floor was a challenge, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. No-one spoke English – so a lot of bowing and smiling and chanting of ‘Arigato’ was the order of the day (and night). My timeout was sandwiched between a stay in Tokyo and a business conference in nearby Akita. I used a Japan rail Pass to travel to Kakunodate and to then travel on to Akita and return to Narita airport from where I flew out. May of my colleagues at the conference had travelled by air – it took hours longer when Tokyo taxis & traffic were factored in and they had half as much fun. The train was both comfortable and convivial – at one stage I shared a bar of chocolate with my (unknown) companion in the next seat – a smiling middle-aged man who decided I needed a snack!
Find out more about Japan Rail Passes – how to purchase and where you can go – here