The area of present-day Akita was part of ancient Dewa Province, and has been inhabited for thousands of years. The Jizōden ruins within the city limits are a major archaeological site with artifacts from the Japanese Paleolithic period through the Jōmon and Yayoi periods. During the Nara period, the Yamato court established Akita Castle in 733 AD to bring the local Emishi tribes under its control. The area was ruled by a succession of local samurai clans in the Sengoku period, before coming under the control of the Satake clan of Kubota Domain during the Edo period. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, a castle town developed around Kubota Castle.
Meiji and Taishō Eras
With the start of the Meiji period, Kubota Domain was abolished, and its castle town divided into the towns of Akita and Kubota. Akita Prefecture was established in 1871, and Shima Yoshitake was named the first governor. Ancient Akita District was divided into Kitaakita and Minamiakita Districts in 1878. Most of Akita town burned down in a great fire on 30 April 1886.
With the establishment of the municipality system on 1 April 1889, the city of Akita was officially established, including former Kubota and Akita towns. The port area was separated into Tsuchizakiko Town, which became part of Minamiakita District. The first city hall was located inside the former Minamiakita District office. In September 1898, the Imperial Japanese Army’s
IJA 17th Infantry Regiment was based in Akita. The first public library was opened in 1898, electrification of the city began in 1901, and Akita Station was opened in 1902, as well as running water and telephone services in 1907.
The Taishō period brought further development to Akita with Nippon Oil Corporation developing the nearby Kurokawa Oil Fields in 1914, and a branch of the Bank of Japan opening in Akita in 1917.
In 1935, Nippon Kogyo (the forerunner of Jomo) began development of the nearby Yatsuhashi Oil Fields. Akita Bank was established in 1941.
War devastated the city on 14 August 1945. During the Tsuchizaki air raid, over 250 people were killed when 134 USAAF B-29 Superfortress, attacked the city from midnight to the early dawn. A Nippon Oil oil refinery in the Tsuchizaki area was targeted.
During the post-war period, the 16th National Sports Festival of Japan was held in Akita in 1961. During the tsunami following the 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake, three Akita residents were killed.
On 1 April 1997, Akita was designated as a core city with increased autonomy. The Akita Shinkansen began operations the same year. In August 2001, the World Games were held in Akita, with the opening ceremony held in the Yabase Track and Field Stadium. In 2004, the city celebrated its 400th anniversary and its beginnings as Kubota Castle town.
On 11 January 2005, the towns of Kawabe and Yūwa (both from Kawabe District) were merged into Akita. Kawabe District was dissolved as a result of this merger. The location of Akita City Hall did not change, and former Kawabe and Yūwa Town Halls are used as civic centers. The 62nd National Sports Festival of Japan was held in Akita in 2007.