Akita prefecture is located on the Japan Sea-side of the Tohoku region. It snows heavily in winter, and 90 percent of the prefecture is designated as a special heavy snowfall area. Production of lumber is the fourth highest in the nation, and the Akita cedar woods that are over 200 years old are considered one of the three most beautiful woods in Japan along
with those of the Kiso cypresses and Tsugaru hiba cypresses. Odate mage-wappa is a traditional craft item made with Akita cedar. Shaved Akita cedar sheets are bent into cylindrical shapes, which are then made into tubs, lunch boxes and other items. Manufacturing of mage-wappa has been continuing since the Edo period. Rice farming is thriving in Akita, and production of rice is the third highest in Japan following Hokkaido and Niigata. Especially, the famous brand, Akitakomachi rice features a soft and moist texture like glutinous rice. Akita’s sake made from high quality rice is also known nationwide. Akita’s local specialty food includes kiritanpo, inaniwa udon, shottsuru-nabe, and iburigakko. Kiritampo is prepared by grilling pounded rice on a skewer. Since Akita is also a production site of Hinai-jidori, one of the three famous natural chickens in Japan, kiritampo is eaten as a kiritanpo-nabe hot pot with Hinai-jidori meat. Inaniwa udon is considered one of the three famous udon noodles in Japan. Handmade, thinly cut Inaniwa udon is easy to eat. Shottsuru-nabe is a hot-pot dish seasoned with shottsuru (salted and fermented fish sauce) made primarily with sailfin sandfish. Iburigakko is smoked pickled daikon radish and other picked vegetables. Akita is also famous for the folk event Namahage that takes place on New Year’s Eve. This is a traditional event that has been passed down in the area around Oga city, and it is still practiced today. For this event, men wearing a demon mask and dressed as namahage (messengers of the gods of the mountains) visit each household to punish and expel the evil.
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