Known as Kyushu’s ‘little Kyoto’, the well-preserved castle town of Kitsuki exudes an authentic atmosphere reminiscent of the Edo Period (1603–1868). Located on the southern side of Kunisaki Peninsula, this compact and charming town is watched over by Kitsuki Castle——which also offers striking views over the Seto Inland Sea. The city center is uniquely configured, with northern and southern plateaus housing samurai districts, and the commercial district sandwiched between them in the valley below. For this reason, Kitsuki is referred to as a “sandwich castle town” and considered one of a kind.
What makes a visit there particularly special is the opportunity to explore the town in a kimono. Select from over 300 designs at Kimono Rental Warakuan, where staff will help dress you in your clothing of choice. Reflecting how this town celebrates these traditional costumes, visitors clad in kimonos enjoy free admission to facilities like Kitsuki Castle as well as discounts at several locations across the town.
You will feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you explore the town’s many sites, all steeped in tradition. Located on the northern plateau, the Ohara Residence is an excellently preserved building with a thick thatched roof and elegant garden that was once home to the chief retainers of local feudal lords. Alongside many former samurai residences now open to the public, visitors can enjoy a refined tea ceremony at Tomaya Tea House, and a delightful traditional play at the Shuraku-kan theatre.
Sample local culinary treats at Wakaeya, a restaurant with over 300 years of history, serving ureshino—a dish of sliced marinated snapper, served atop rice bathed in hot green tea. Other Kitsuki delicacies include young sardines called chirimen, and freshly grilled oysters available at stalls along Morie Bay.
The town’s photogenic slopes make for excellent backdrops, so be sure to capture your kimono-clad adventure. Suya no Saka—meaning ‘hill of the vinegar shops’ for the vendors that once lined the street—is a stand-out photo spot, which has also featured in numerous historical dramas. With abundant artisanal craftsmanship, long-standing establishments, and gorgeous traditional architecture, Kitsuki’s olde-world atmosphere is sure to capture your heart.
Address: 372-4 Kitsuki, Kitsuki City, Oita Prefecture
Airport: Oita Airport
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (reception open until 2:00 p.m.)
Closed on Wednesdays and during New Years holidays (29 December-3 January)
*Hours are subject to change, so please check the website.
Kimono rental prices start from 3,000 yen.
A couple plan is available for 5,500 yen.
Reservations are required on weekdays.
Priority is given to reservations on Saturday and Sunday.
10 minutes by bus from JR Kitsuki Station to Kitsuki Bus Terminal, then walk 15 minutes. 10 minutes by taxi from JR Kitsuki Station.