Town of Samurai Homes: Kakunodate

Occupying 862 sq. km (333sq. miles) of northern Tohoku in the north east of the island of Honshu is the resplendent Towada-Hachimantai National Park, best visited for its scenic lakes, rustic hot-spring spas that seem little changed over the decades Here there is skiing, and hiking, including a trail that flanks the picture-perfect Oirase Stream. 

Nearby the town of Kakunodate was once a thriving castle settlement  and famous for its remaining samurai houses and cherry trees.

Kakunodate was founded in 1620 by feudal lord Ashina Yoshikatsu, who chose the site for its river and easily defended mountain. His samurai retainers settled just south of his hilltop castle, in modest thatched-roof homes behind wooden fences along wide, fine streets, which they lined with weeping cherry trees imported from Kyoto. 

To help support themselves, the samurai engaged in cottage industry, crafting beautiful products made from cherry bark. Meanwhile, merchants settled in their own district, in narrow, cramped quarters. Many of the town’s 14,600 residents are direct descendants of the town’s original samurai and merchants.

Destination – Japan