In the small city of Akita, there is a very interesting museum. It is called the Kanto Festival Centre (秋田市民俗芸能伝承館) and it offers plenty of information regarding festivals in Akita Province. Anyone who has ever attended any Japanese festival knows too well that it can be very confusing. Colorful kimonos and glittering lanterns can be all very exciting, but it would be nice to understand exactly where the traditions come from and what the rituals are about. The Kanto Festival Center showcases three of the biggest festivals - the Bonden Festival, Tsuchizaki Shinmeisha Festival and the Kanto Festival, which is the biggest of the three. It also provide information about other festivals and cultural happenings in the area.
In the Main Museum building, exhibitions are on the first three floors. On the first floor there is a permanent exhibition of the three most important Akita festivals. There is also a TV screen for watching short videos of the events. Materials and images related to Akita's folk performing arts are displayed on the second floor. Meetings, traditional dance practice and music classes are held on the 4th and 5th floors. It is also used for projects such as folk performances.
Next to the main building is the Old Kaneko Family House Museum. It is a traditional wooden house with a mud-wall storehouse, built in the Edo Era. The Kaneko Family House was named a cultural property by Akita City in 1997. It has characteristic features from Edo Era, like a corridor connecting the main house and the storehouse, servants room, and the female servants room. At the front of the house, there is a part dedicated to the clothing store which operated there in early Showa Era (1854-1975). It has a display of clothes, books and other items sold in the shop at that time.
Cultural information is available in English along with "Akita, Kanto Festival Guide Book," explaining the history of Kanto and local community traditions. The Museum is located within walking distance from Akita Station. There are many train connection from Tokyo to Akita. I used my JR East Pass for Tohoku area and it took about four hours to get there from central Tokyo. The Akita Shinkansen is very comfortable and runs around ten times a day.