The north-eastern corner of Akita prefecture is serviced by Odate-Noshiro airport, which is located in nearby Kitaakita city, and is approximately 40 minutes from Odate. The airport provides one inbound and one outbound flight per day to both Tokyo and Osaka. Flight time to Tokyo is approximately one hour, with flights to and from Osaka taking a little longer. Odate is not near an expressway on-ramp, though the nearest interchange, Kosaka, is approximately 30 minute's drive away. From Akita, the prefectural capital, Odate can be reached by car in about two hours. Odate is also serviced by local trains, though these can run quite slowly, especially in winter.
Odate has a local bus network which operates a service within the city and to outlying areas. Taxis are also readily available.
While Odate itself is not a city of particular interest, there are many key sites within easy driving distance. An hour to the north-east is the beautiful Lake Towada and the Oirase Gorge, both areas of relative unspoilt beauty and popular tourist destinations in the summer months. Around 40 minutes to the south east is the Oyu stone circle, thought to date back 4,000 years to Japan's Jomon period.
Perhaps Odate's greatest claim to fame is the dog Hachiko, an Akita dog whose loyalty is celebrated in the famous statue outside Shibuya station in Tokyo. Hachiko was born in Odate before being taken to Tokyo, and the dog-enthusiast can visit his birthplace, explore the Akita dog museum or enjoy watching the Akita dog show held during Golden Week each year in Keijo park.
Without a doubt, the summer months are the best time to enjoy Odate, as the winters can be very harsh. During O-bon in the middle of August, Odate celebrates its "Daimonji Matsuri", which is possibly the city's biggest and most popular festival. The festivities culminate in fireworks and the setting-alight of a giant kanji character "dai" (大), meaning "big", and also the first character in the city's name, which can be seen on a hill overlooking the city.
Odate's most famous dish is kiritampo, which is made from new rice which is cooked, mashed up and worked onto a wooden skewer to resemble something like an American corn dog. This is then cooked over hot embers, and can either be covered in sweet miso and eaten off the stick, or removed from the stick, sliced up and added as an ingredient to a delicious soup, known as kiritampo nabe. The best time to enjoy this dish is in late autumn when the rice is freshly harvested and at its best. Visitors can also try their hand at making their own kiritampo at the Kiritampo Matsuri, held every year on the first weekend of October.