Akita Airport

Gateway to Akita Culture

By Justin Velgus    - 4 min read

Akita Prefecture has wonderful culture hotspots to explore, but some people think the prefecture is too hard to access from Tokyo. While a bullet train takes upwards of 4 hours, a flight from Tokyo to Akita Airport takes just about an hour. Combine that with the world-renown Japanese service and the time will “fly by” in no time. The most dominating feature of Akita airport is it is small and in the mountains, but it still offers all the amenities you would expect from a larger facility.

First and foremost the facility is an airport. Check in is on the first floor then an escalator leads you to the waiting and shop area. Here there are several luxuries. There is a lounge area where you can watch television while waiting for your flight. A fancy upgraded lounge is available for 800 yen; it offers privacy, nicer chairs, and an unlimited soft drink and juice bar. A nursery, coin lockers, ATM, and information booth make the traveler comfortable. There is also an exhibition room that shows parts of an airplane up close. A rent-a-car service is on site and next store is a gas station to fill up at. You can enjoy the surroundings from the third floor observation deck, otherwise I recommend checking out the shops.

Finding cultural gifts has never been easier. With several shops, you can find the perfect souvenir before you leave the airport or see the best Akita offers before even stepping outside the building. A Family Mart convenient store is great for picking up a quick bite to eat, refreshing beverage, or tobacco. It also offers a very limited amount of Japanese knick-knacks. However, convenient stores are nothing special and found all across Japan. On the far end of the second floor are a variety of small shops in one large store. These shops specialize in everything Akita. Traditional crafts, foods, alcohol, gifts, and even seafood are sold in this store. Even if you don’t buy anything, it is free to look and see such an amazing collection of Akita products. The only other place that outperforms the airport’s stores in selection and quantity of Akita goods is the Akita train station. For international passengers, we have access to the duty free store, which sells a variety of goods. It is open one and a half hours before an international flight departs. Still have some time before a flight or extremely hungry upon arrival? Well there are several food options to tease your taste buds.

From a small bite to eat to a proper meal, Akita Airport has limited food choices, though it should be more than enough to combat your hunger. Café Sora on the first floor is your place for coffee or pastries. The water used in the coffee is natural and pure, taken directly from northern Tohoku’s Shirakami Forest. This is definitely no Starbucks! On the second floor are two restaurants. Dining Sora has a large menu with a range of prices where anyone should be able to find something they like. The restaurant is best-known for its demiglace sauce and omelets rice. This is Akita though, so why not stop by Suginoya? It offers dishes made with Akita ingredients. Its specialty is a dish called Wappa Rice.

Airports are usually thought of as just a place to stay temporarily, but it would be unwise to not see what Akita Airport can offer you. Its smaller atmosphere makes security check in times very quick and I saw passengers arriving ten minutes before their flights with no problems at all—though you should probably come earlier. It is a 30 minutes to drive from Akita’s downtown. Just come with hand written directions if using a taxi because the cab drivers have a strong Akita accent that even Japanese have trouble deciphering. Pick up some authentic Akita souvenirs or have your last chance of eating some Japanese food before your departure back to your home country. Do it all at Akita Airport. Most importantly, remember: Akita is accessible from the rest of Japan, so there is no excuse not to come and explore its rich heritage.

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Justin Velgus

Justin Velgus @justin.velgus

Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is a long-term resident and promoter in the Tohoku region. He has been a content producer for JapanTravel.com since 2012 and was the Miyagi Prefecture Regional Partner 2013-2015. Justin’s over 300 published travel and culture articles come from a background of studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and working for the government in Fukushima. He lives in the gyutan capital of the world, Sendai.   Justin is an expert in local culture and history. He was the first foreign volunteer at Sendai City Museum and regularly advises the local volunteer guide group GOZAIN , which he is a veteran member, on guiding techniques and hidden locations in the city even locals don't know about. In his free time he enjoys delivering original walking tours, such as his Dark Sendai Tour (ghost tour) or Kokubuncho Mystery Tour (redlight district tour). Justin is also a Certified Sake Professional.

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