Have you ever experienced the Japanese countryside?
If you happen to come across Akita Inaka School, located in Kosaka, then off the beaten track, you went.
The school opened its doors in August 2019 for students worldwide to learn everyday Japanese and experience the countryside. Akita Inaka School allows students to learn practical Japanese, explore their adventurous side, and become a part of a real Japanese community. Class periods finish at 12.30 pm, Monday-Friday. Each day is spent embracing the Japanese countryside by exploring Akita Prefecture with the local community.
Birth of Akita Inaka
It’s sad to acknowledge that the population of the Japanese countryside is decreasing. Most young people pack their rucksacks and head for the big cities like Tokyo or Osaka for better social and career opportunities. Due to a lack of students, the elementary school doors of Kosaka closed in 2013.
New memories came when Youtuber and travel fanatic Angela of Internationally Me co-founded Akita Inaka School to experience the countryside and learn practical Japanese. With her friend and co-founder Sayaka of Take me to Japan, the two successfully reopened the elementary doors, and Akita Inaka School was born.
Why I Started My School: Akita Inaka School
Angela’s Youtube channel promotes stepping away from Japan’s beaten track to explore the beautiful Japanese countryside. It highlights the hidden gems found while taking a break from the big cities and typical tourist attractions.
‘Take Me to Japan’ is a free website helping people worldwide find the best course to learn Japanese for them. Each person is different, so you get personalized advice. Whether it’s long term courses, practical Japanese courses, or manga courses, Take Me to Japan will find the right path for you.
With the combination of travel and study, Akita Inaka School became a reality. A special day for the Kosaka community as the school reopened in August 2019.
Akita Prefecture: A Journey of the Japanese Countryside
Akita Inaka School is located in Kosaka, Akita Prefecture (秋田県 ) in northern Tohoku. Known for its mountainous scenery, sake production, and the iconic Japanese Akita, the Prefecture is the sixth-largest in Japan. The area caters to outdoor adventures and historical traditions, with a population of 966,000.
Akita Inaka offers courses all year round, and each season reflects a different feel of the Japanese countryside. What you do depends on which season finds you visiting. Here’s a quick run-down of things to do with the Akita Inaka School community.
Winter in the Japanese Countryside
The winter season is a unique period for the Akita Inaka School community. Japan has always been a go-to for skiing fanatics around the world. Akita Prefecture has one of the highest snowfalls in the world and attracts skiers from all over. Here’s a list of the best ski resorts in Akita prefecture.
Towada Winter Festival is a must while visiting Akita Prefecture. Held in February at lake Towada, the skies light up with fireworks as students and locals have fun while celebrating the winter season. Festivals like these are great for making new friends and for students to practice their Japanese.
Hot springs in Japan are on every traveller’s list. The winter season offers a memorable experience with snow all around. Enjoy this Japanese tradition with the Akita Inaka School community. They will share their favorite hot springs spots in the area, making the winter season a memorable experience. Here’s a list of unique hot springs found in Akita Prefecture.
Winter’s 4-week course begins on February 1st and is a popular choice for overseas students. With covid-19 restrictions still present in Japan, the winter course for 2021 remains uncertain but the courses are offered every year.
5 Things To Do In Winter | Off The Beaten Track
Spring Time: Cherry Blossom season in Japan
Spring means cherry blossom season in Japan. This time of year is popular for tourists as many travels to witness this remarkable scene. Hirosaki cherry blossom festival takes place April 23rd – May 6th at Hirosaki park. Attending the Akita Inaka spring course will be a perfect opportunity to experience cherry blossom season in Japan.
Here’s a list of great cherry blossom spots in the Japanese countryside.
There are always upcoming festivals to enjoy in Akita Prefecture, and summer is no exception. The Odate Daimonji festival takes place in Hachi-Dori in Odate city on August 11th. The festival lasts all day and into the evening. Traditional dances are performed on the main street of Hachi-Dori. The locals celebrate while enjoying the many food stalls on offer. A fireworks display is held at Nagaki river when the sky lights up to round off the evening. Students and locals have fun while witnessing this breathtaking display.
Tanabata festival is also special for the Akita Inaka School community as students celebrate with the locals of Kosaka. Held in August, the festival takes place on the main streets of Kosaka. Students can help prepare the traditional floats involved in the parade. This is great to immerse everyone in the local community and be a part of the festival parade.
Akita Inaka School offers two courses for the Summer season. July 5th kicks off the first summer course lasting two weeks. The school’s 4-week course then takes place on August 2nd. Both offer great practical Japanese lessons and a summer experience like no other in the Japanese countryside.
Summer Course 2019
Like every season in Akita Prefecture, autumn has something special to offer. The Japanese countryside in autumn shows how beautiful the changing months can be in Japan. The trees will flame into a lovely shade of red and orange leaves from mid-October to early November. A Japanese tradition called Momiji-gari, meaning to admire the autumn leaves, is a custom every traveler can appreciate.
Here’s a list of the best spots to witness the fantastic Akita autumn leaves.
Japanese Countryside - Akita spring time
Odate Noshiro Airport is the most convenient way to arrive at Akita Inaka School. For overseas travelers arriving in Tokyo, the Akita Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) from Tokyo station will take you to Shin-Aomori station. The journey lasts 4 hours with stops along the way, including Sendai, Morioka, Semboku, and Daisen.
Akita Inaka School staff can arrange transportation from Odate Noshiro Airport and surrounding areas. Contact the school for transportation details and the best routes to take.
Akita Prefecture: 2021
For fanatics of Japanese culture, 2021 is a perfect time to see a different side of Japan. The big city lights of Tokyo, Osaka’s amazing food, and Kyoto’s historical temples may have blinded us from appreciating the Japanese countryside. It’s positive to see Akita Inaka School creating new memories for a real Japanese community. Perhaps more adventures like this may be the answer to bringing life back to Japan’s local communities. Travelers can witness how special the Japanese countryside is and experience a new adventure upon their journey of finding new paths.