From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen train from Ueno or Tokyo Station to Morioka and then the Akita Shinkansen to Kakunodate. (You can travel via most Shinkansen the entire distance from Tokyo without having to transfer.) The trip takes about 3 1/2 hours and costs ¥15,850 for a reserved seat (some trains require reservations). Kakunodate is just one stop after Tazawako.
After you exit Kakunodate Station, look for the Kakunodate Tourist Information Center to the right, housed in a replica of a traditional warehouse (tel. 0187/52-1170; daily 9am-6pm), where you can pick up an English-language map from the helpful, English-speaking staff and reserve a hotel room. More information is available at www.city.semboku.akita.jp.
Orientation & Getting Around
You can walk to all the sights and lodging and dining recommendations below (though you might opt for a short taxi ride to your accommodations if you're weighed down by luggage). To reach the samurai district, about a 15- to 20-minute walk from the station, walk straight out of the station and continue until it ends at a T-intersection (you'll see a post office across the street; this is the former merchant district and the heart of the city). Here, you turn right. Or, you might wish to tour by rental bike, available in a shop on the plaza in front of the train station next to the police koban for ¥300 for 1 hour or ¥1,500 for 5 hours.
Car Rentals -- If you've rented a car through JR Eki Rent-A-Car (tel. 0187/53-2070), you can pick it up at Folkloro Kakunodate, a JR-owned hotel beside the train station to the left. For Toyota Rent-A-Car in Kakunodate, call tel. 0187/55-2100.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.