Discovering Japan’s Charm with Numbers: Akita Edition

Feb 12 2020
Feb 19 2020
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Are you familiar with Akita prefecture? This article will introduce what kind of opportunities Akita prefecture has to offer and the best ways to experience a trip there, all based on numbers.

1 hour vs. 3 hours and 45 minutes

Akita prefecture is located in northwestern Japan, and a flight from Haneda Airport takes about one hour while a bullet train ride from Tokyo Station takes about three hours and 45 minutes.
Many travelers don’t know much about Akita prefecture, so first let’s take a look at some of the area’s characteristics from a few different angles such as culture, nature, and food.

(as of 2018)
chart1![alt](https://www.wowu.jp/rails/active_storage/blobs/eyJfcmFpbHMiOnsibWVzc2FnZSI6IkJBaHBBcHdmIiwiZXhwIjpudWxsLCJwdXIiOiJibG9iX2lkIn19--9a8361b5fdc80e4d28e2b9ead75c6912a11a68a9/image-1580982516692.png?locale=ja)

(Reference: 2015 National Census (Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) Major Statistics Tables by Prefecture and Municipality (2015).)

Famous Symbols of Akita

When it comes to sightseeing, Akita prefecture boasts 17 Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, which is the most in all of Japan (Niigata prefecture comes in at second place with 13).

Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

(Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties)

There are abundant resources for tourism such as culture, Akita dogs, kiritanpo hot pot, and tales of spirit beings called Namahage. The prefecture is also famous for its cherry blossoms in spring, colorful leaves in autumn, and snow in winter.

akita dog

(Akita dog)

kiritanpo

(Kiritanpo hot pot)

namahage

(Tales of spirit beings called Namahage)

Relationship Between Popular Visiting Time and Snowfall

One of Akita’s tourist attractions is snow, the prefecture boasting the fourth heaviest snowfall in all of Japan.

chart2

(Comparison of total snowfall between January 2008 and December 2017.)

However, consider the data below. The tables show the number of Japanese and foreign tourists who visit and stay in Akita during the different seasons. The prefecture has the most Japanese visitors in summer (June to August), whereas foreign tourists seem to visit more in autumn (September to November). From this data, it can be inferred that Japanese people visit Akita to enjoy summer festivals, while tourists from overseas wish to see the autumn leaves. Snow is considered to be one of Akita’s many tourist attractions, but it doesn’t seem to factor in to the number of visitors to the prefecture; in fact, the data would indicate that autumn leaves have a more significant tourist pull than snow.

The period when the most Japanese people visit or stay in Akita is June to August.

chart3

(Created independently by EXest Inc. using data from Akita prefecture’s 2018 tourism statistics.)

Click here for more information about autumn leaves.

Looking at the data for visitors to Japan from overseas, the most popular period to visit Akita is September to November. June to August, when the most Japanese tourists visit, is the least popular.

chart4

(Created independently by EXest Inc. using data from Akita prefecture’s 2018 tourism statistics.)

Why are the peak seasons for Japanese and foreign visitors different?

Theory 1: Akita's specific appeal has not been fully communicated overseas.

omagari fireworks

(Omagari Fireworks Festival)

Considering the above data, one could hypothesize that Japanese people visit Akita with a specific purpose in mind while visitors from abroad have only an abstract image. For example, the events in Akita that draw the most visitors are both held in August: the Kanto Festival (approximately 1.31 million visitors) and the Omagari Fireworks Festival (approximately 800,000 visitors), which is one of the three largest fireworks displays in the country. These are quite famous in Japan, and many Japanese people travel to Akita to enjoy the events and the surrounding atmosphere. Overseas, however, information about these events may not be as readily available. One could theorize that the difference in peak visiting times is a result of a lack of information about popular events as well as the desire of many foreign tourists to experience the autumn leaves and winter snow.
If Akita’s summer charm were better known overseas, it’s possible that the peak time for foreign tourists in the prefecture would shift to summer.One line of thought is that it’s important to provide people with information about events and experiences they may be interested in as well as the best ways to enjoy a trip so they can make informed decisions about where to visit and when.

event
Omagari Fireworks Festival

Another festival in Akita

event
Nishimonai Bon Odori Festival

Theory 2: There is a difference in the original parameters.

taiheiko lake

(Autumn leaves at Taiheiko lake)

The next possibility is that the overall number of foreign tourists who visit Japan increases in autumn. It is easy to imagine that if the total number of visitors to Japan were to increase, so would the number of visitors to Akita. But, consider the data below. In actuality, the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan is highest in summer (June to August), but only slightly higher than autumn (September to November). The seasonal ratio of total foreign visitors to Japan differs from the seasonal ratio of foreign visitors to Akita, which supports the theory that Akita’s appeal is different for Japanese nationals than visitors from abroad.

chart5

(Created independently by EXest Inc. using JNTO’s 2018 press release data.)

Theory 3: Japanese tourists and foreign tourists have different travel objectives.

If we assume that Japanese tourists and visitors to Japan from overseas have the same information and there are no asymmetric properties (economics, etc.), in other words, assuming that foreign visitors to Japan are aware of the Kanto Festival and Omagari Fireworks Festival that are held in August and still choose to visit in autumn to see the changing leaves, it could be concluded that Japanese tourists and foreign tourists have different objectives when traveling.

Not just knowing about the place, but also sharing the best ways to experience it.

Although theory 3 is unlikely, it is undeniable that autumn in Akita is a popular tourist destination for visitors to Japan from overseas. However, we would also like potential visitors to consider summer in Akita, which is popular among Japanese tourists, as well as winter, when you can experience rime ice and igloos.

Rime ice

(Rime ice)

kamakura

(Igloos)

We hope to create a platform that helps travelers experience local life as part of their sightseeing, and we hope to help each traveler find their ideal experience in the season that is best suited for them.

Please click here for more information about Akita!
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