Are you planning to travel to Kyushu, one of Japan ‘s southernmost islands? The town of Hita is not famous amongst the majority of foreign tourists. It does, however, deserve more fame. The small mountainside city has a long history that can still be felt throughout the central area. There are also beautiful local products. Learn more about Hita in this travel guide!
History of Hita
Hita is a small city in the western part of Oita Prefecture in Kyushu. Its population is about 60,000. The city is in a basin surrounded by mountains. It was an important city during the feudal time because it was a transportation hub accessible to major cities in Kyushu. These cities are Fukuoka, Nakatsu, Oita and Kumamoto. This is why the city was taken by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
During the Edo period when the Tokugawa family kept the title of Shogun for more than 260 years, each area was governed by 250 daimyo or feudal lords. But important cities such as Takayama where high-quality lumber was produced were controlled directly by the shogunate. The magistrate office controlled the whole of Kyushu Island.
Many rivers flow from the mountains into the city and the rivers were used to transport products like lumber to other cities. But river transportation stopped once the Yoake Dam was constructed for electric power generation in 1954.
Mameda Town is designated as a preservation area of important traditional constructions by the national government. There are several houses that were constructed more than 200 years ago during the Edo period. You can visit some of these houses which are open to the public as museums.
For example, Kusano Honke House which is designated as a national important cultural asset was constructed around 1725. You will feel as if you have been transported back in time to the feudal time just by walking along the street surrounded by these old houses. At the Tenryo Hita Museum, you can learn about the history of the city.
Hita Gion Festival
When you hear about the Gion Festival, you may think of the big festival in Kyoto, but the Gion Festival in Hita also has a long tradition. It started about 300 years ago by imitating the festival of Kyoto. The wealth earned by financing enabled the city to hold a big festival.
The festival lasts about 20 days, and the highlight of the festival is the parade of floats which is held in late July. There are 10 beautifully decorated floats kept by each neighborhood of Hita. The tallest float is about 11 meters high. The floats are registered as one of the 33 festival floats of japan in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
If you visit the Hita Gion Float Museum, you can see 6 floats that are actually used for the festival.
Access: 12 minutes walk from Hita Station (JR Line)
Entrance Fee: 320 yen for adults / 220 yen for students (elementary, junior high, and high schools)
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Wednesday)
There are several unique local products from a long time ago that can be found in Hita.
Geta or Clogs: Because they produce high-quality lumber, they make Japanese traditional footwear called geta or clogs. They create stripe patterns by burning the surface. At the peak time, they produced 20 million pairs of clogs in a year.
Ontayaki Ceramics: They make ceramics using traditional techniques without using electricity such as manual pottery wheels, climbing kilns, and water wheel-driven pounders.
Sake & Shochu: Because of the rich water, they produce high-quality sake and shochu (distilled alcohol).
A hot spring gushes out into the city from the mountains, and there are several hotels and ryokan with an in-house hot spring facility. After you visit the sightseeing spots of Hita, how about staying overnight in the city? It is nice to relax in a hot bath.
Birth Place of Hajime Isayama
Hajime Isayama is a manga (comic) artist who makes Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) which has been a big hit in Japan. It is said he was inspired by his birthplace, the city of Hita, to make this manga. The backdrop of the story is in a city surrounded by high walls. They prevent the attack of titan and reminds of Hita which is surrounded by high mountains. He has a lot of imagination about what he would find beyond the mountains when he was a child.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including guides who can let you experience the best of Hita. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country. Japan is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!