Walking in kimono through the streets of an ancient charm Japanese Town, sit at the window in a samurai house and admire the beautiful garden while the sound of the Koto spread in the air, far away from the hordes of tourists who crowd the streets of the ancient Kyoto… can you imagine something that better represents that ancient Japan,  so sophisticated and elegant?

In Kitsuki you can live this dream.

Kitsuki is a small town in Kyushu Island, not far from the famous spa-town of Beppu. Is a city steeped in the charm of ancient Japan, one of the few Japanese locations where you can visit Samurai Residences and be surrounded by the timeless charm of the beautiful Japanese private gardens. Not only a Samurai city and an amazing castle-town, Kitsuki also offers beautiful views of the Beppu bay and is famous for its slopes. Kitsuki is also known as the “sandwich shaped castle town” due to the samurai districts located on either side of the main shopping street, which runs through the city center.

 

Kitsuki, between samurai and kimono.

The best way to visit Kitsuki is on foot (it’s a small town), wearing a kimono that can be rent all day long for just 3000yen.

Wearing traditional clothes will catapult you fully into the ancient Japan’s armosphere, making you feel truly in the Samurai Era. Kitsuki is not so famous for mass tourism, so do not be surprised if locals stop you to take a picture of you in traditional clothes. Admit it you can’t wait for it happened to you!

In addition, wearing it you will have free access to the various sites of interest and discounts in some partner venues. The kimonos can be rented from Warakuan Kimono Rental, at the western end of the central shopping street. I recommend to booking to get priority over other customers: remember that wearing a kimono takes time, so it’s important not have to wait too long and have more time to visit the city of Kitsuki.

This charming town, has also been recognized by the Japanese Government as a “Historical City”, thanks to its magical atmosphere and unique “sandwich” architecture.

Thanks to a convenient digital audio guide, listenable from your smarthpone, you will be guided through the streets of this castle city, inside ancient Samurai residences and photogenic slopes. You can find the audioguide here: Kitsuki audio guide.

The main commercial street divides the castle city into two areas, up to the small castle at the eastern end. Wrapped in kimonos and wearing the classic Japanese shoes, head towards the Kitsuki Castle, the smallest Castle of Japan, where you can enjoy an amazing view over Beppu Bay and the Kitsuki Samuri Town. Inside the Castle there is a small museum where documents and belongings relating to the history of this town are displayed and it is also possible wear a Samurai armor and take a picture 😉
Take a leisurely stroll at the nearby temple and then walk to the slope of paved steps, before getting surrounded by the Samurai district. 

The paved road, the wooden entrances, the cobbled entrances, the tatami rooms and the beautiful gardens… and the sound of koto in the background. 

A suggestive atmosphere, which will immediately catapult you into a Japan of other times, between refinements and contemplation. In the Isoya, Nomi and Ohara Residences you will feel the ancient atmosphere, relax in the beautiful gardens and feel the soft massage of the tatami floor under your feet. You can even try playing the koto, the ancient Japanese instrument and spreading the sound of a famous Japanese melody in the air.

Going down through Shioya-no-Saka Slope, admire the beautiful view that opens in front of you, often used as a movie set for its atmosphere and beauty, and decide to continue to the front area of Samurai district or take a lunch along the commercial street.

Other Samurai residences are located on the opposite hill, where also the Kitsuki Castle Town Historical Museum are located, and also here you will be enveloped by the typical atmosphere of ancient Japan.
Dream about ancient tea ceremonies in the tea house of the Hitostumatsu Residence or sigh while admiring the Kitsuki Castle overlooking the sea from the garden of the modern Japanese-style residence of the first Honorary Citizen of Kitsuki.

Lose yourself in silent alleys, cobbled stairways and ancient temples, without haste until the sun goes down, when the city becomes even more silent and magical …. 

 

Experiences in Kitsuki

Kitsuki deserves a visit for its particular way to be a Sandwich Shaped Castle Town, but it is also an excellent destination to try out typical Japanese experiences in an extremely suggestive environment.
First of all, definitely the experience of wearing a kimono and walking around the city wearing it!There is also the chance to create floral postcards and hair ornaments, or to deepen the ancient culture of tea. Or also attend a theatrical performance and shop in pretty traditional shops. Find all the information on the official website of Kitsuki Tourism Organization.

If you want to taste some local cuisine, I suggest you stop at Karintei, a small restaurant with japanese tables located right on the shopping street, and order the Suzuzen, a set with different tastes of local dishes, including the fresh and delicious sashimi!

If you are in Japan during the months of February / March, you can’t miss the Hiina Meguri Festival, the Dolls festival, which takes place in Kitsuki every year from mid-February to mid-March, certainly an interesting event for Japanese culture lovers.

How to get to Kitsuki  

Kitsuki is located between the Oita Airport and the spa-town of Beppu and is connected to the two destinations by a convenient network of local buses. From Oita airport the journey takes about 30 minutes for about 750 yen, while from Beppu the fee is around 1000 yen (depending on the stop) for about 50 minutes.

The JR Kitsuki Station is about 10 minutes by bus (about 5km) from the historical center and can be reached by bus for 300 yen. From here JR trains (included in JRPass) connect Kitsuki to Beppu, Hakata (Fukuoka) and Kokura stations.