May 17, 2015


Having a love for castle towns and wooden houses, quite a few Japanese I got to know during my stay in Kobe recommended me to visit Hagi(萩)in Yamaguchi(山口). During the last part of my stay when I was eligible for the JR Pass (long story~), I could finally go there, as part of my solo 3rd Kyushu(九州)trip, since the prefecture is just next to Kyushu.

There was typhoon that day, arriving in Kobe in the morning. I guess I was lucky, as I headed west towards Yamaguchi just before the typhoon hit Kobe, and the trains I took were not seriously affected. So my schedule wasn't disrupted by the bad weather. If I had chosen another destination/mode of travel/depart later, my plans would have stalled...

Took shinkansen to Shin-Yamaguchi, then transferred to a JR Bus to Hagi that takes around 2 hours. Note that 2 companies covers the same route, so it is necessary to choose a JR bus in order to use JR pass.

I traveled around Hagi by a loop bus which cost only 100 yen per ride. Alternatively, it should be possible and fun to go around by rental bicycle, though it wasn't an option for me then due to the bad weather.

Hagi is a former castle town, which used to be the capital of the Mori Clan, one of the most powerful clans during Edo period. The town is well-preserved, such that there's a saying that goes: Hagi City- A city where you can still use the Edo period maps. And the town is crammed with spots irresistable to fans of NHK drama Hana Moyu and Meiji restoration era.

Some of the samurai and merchant residences are open to public. I chose to go into Kikuya Residence, belonging to a samurai-turned-merchant family. Entry cost 520 yen, the most expensive there, but it is said to be the most outstanding, so probably worth the money. There was a guide who brought me around and provided lots of information in Japanese. Also enjoyed just sitting down and looking at the garden.

Hagi is known for Hagiyaki Pottery. There are quite a few shops selling it. Bought quite a few for souvenirs and collection purposes. According to a shopkeeper, the special thing about Hagiyaki is that the colour changes as time passes, due to the interaction with the tea~

Also went to Hagi Castle Ruins and Shoin Shrine(松陰神社). The latter enshrines Yoshida Shoin(吉田松陰), an important figure from Hagi who inspired revolutionary ideas during the Edo period. Got to know this character from Yae no Sakura(八重の桜)drama, whereby this character was played by Oguri Shun(小栗旬)~

Shokason Juku School lies within the compound, where Yoshida Shoin gave lectures. His students include the first prime minister of Japan- Ito Hirobumi.

Yamaguchi's famous cuisine is pufferfish. Although it wasn't in season, had fried pufferfish set for lunch at Hagi Seaside Market along the bus route. Kenran beef is also local specialty, though I didn't have any.

Although I only managed to explore half of what Hagi offers (there are many more temples/museums/houses, 2D1N would be ideal to cover the place comprehensively), enjoyed strolling around the castle town :)

In Spring 2017, I went to Yamaguchi prefecture again for cherry blossom viewing at Kintaikyo(錦帯橋)in Iwakuni(岩国), a castle town in the south eastern part of the prefecture. It is one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.

I did not have much expectations of the place/view before going there, and knowing that weather would be bad that day did not help. But I was so wrong! The grandeur and elegance of the 5 arch wooden bridge across the wide Nishiki river, almost full-bloom Sakura lining both sides of the river, tranquillity of the adjacent Kikko Park, topped off by the milky veil of fog (thanks to the bad weather)... the scenery there totally captured my heart~

There is also a hilltop castle-- Iwakuni Castle, that can be accessed by ropeway. I spent around 3 hours in this beautiful historic town.

This place is highly accessible, just 15 minute bus ride away from Shin-Iwakuni station along the Shinkansen line.


Post a Comment