Showing posts with label hita. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hita. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Brief Guide to Museums of Hita

Museums of Hita 日田市

Whisky Museum

I visited Hita, a small, historic town near the border of Fukuoka in Oita, several times, the first being on day 53 of my walk around Kyushu on pilgrimage. I quite enjoyed the town and there was plenty to see in and around the Historic Preservation District, including a range of museums. The Whisky Museum was closed when I was there but it has a collection of 30,000 whiskeys and paraphernalia that have been collected by the owner since he was 13. If alcohol is your thug then there is a sake museum in the local brewery.

Museum in Hita.
Museum in Hita

In the Mamedamachi historic district, there are half a dozen small museums in the old houses and storehouses, including the Hirose Museum, and the Tenryo Hita Museum.

Exhibits include artifacts from wealthy merchants, the samurai bureaucrats who ran the town, and folk art and such.

Not to be missed is the Hita Gion Museum which houses the huge floats used in the towns Gion Festival, as well as other matsuri-related  objects and artworks.

There is a modern museum housing exhibits connected to the famous private academy, Kangien, and its founder , Hirose Tanso. Adjacent to the museum are two remaining buildings of the academy from the Edo period, Shufuan, and Enshiro.

The most popular museum I suspect is the Hina Doll Museum with its collection of more than 4,000 hina dolls, but it also has a few other historical displays not doll-related.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Yakatabune of the Mimuka River

Yakatabune, Mimuka River

Mimuka River.

The Mikuma River flows through Hita, in the mountains of Oita near the border with Fukuoka, and has been a transportation route since ancient times. It has also been a source of food, with eels and the ayu fish being popular still today.

In the summer months, It is the site for the traditional fishing method using trained cormorants to catch the fish, and visitors head out in pleasure boats to watch the scene.

The boats, called yakatabune, nowadays ply their trade most nights of the year as they have become one of the prime tourist attractions, especially for the many guests of the waterfront hot spring hotels..

Yakatabune have a long history, being used by the elite aristocrats of the Heian court to hold waterborne parties with plenty of sake drinking and poetry composition.

Yakatabune is often translated as "house boat", but in English, that implies people living onboard, whereas they are really like small Japanses restaurants, with tatami floors, low tables etc.

Around sunset each day the lanterns and electric lights on the yakatabune light up, and guests, usually wearing traditional outfits, arrive and are then taken out to the middle of the river for a few hours of fine wining and dining.

The boats are operated by half a dozen of the waterfront hot spring hotels, but I believe it may be possible to book seats without actually staying at the hotel, though I suspect the tickets are not cheap.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Enshiro at Kangien in Hita

Japan Guide

Enshiro is a small, two-story building built in 1849 as a study. It is one of only two buildings remaining from the Edo Period privatye school in Hita known as Kangien. The other building is the older, larger former residence known as Shufuan which I recently posted about.

It is said that Enshiro was the favorite study of the founder of Kangien, Hirose Tanso, during his later years.

Hirose Tanso (1782 - 1856) was born in Hita, the eldest son of a wealthy merchant family in the town. However, being a sickly child, the family business was taken over by his younger brother and he devoted himself to study.

He studies under the Neo-Confucian scholar, Nanmei Kamei, in Fukuoka before returning home to Hta and opening his own academy.

His academy, which he renamed Kangien in 1817, became very popular and drew students from all over japan, and at times had 200 students, including a few females, studying and staying in large dormitories.

Kangien continued operating after Hirose Tanso's death, and eventually closed down in 1897. Its most famous graduates include Chouei Takano, Masujiro Omira, Hikoma Ueno, Shigyoku Nagshima, and Sanshu Chou.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Shufuan at Kangien in Hita


Shufuan was built in 1781 as a residence by Hirose Gekka, a haiku poet and member of the wealthy, local merchant family of Hirose.


In the early 10th century it became part of a private academy started by his nephew, Hirose Tanso.

The school grew and was named Kangien, kangi means "everything is fine"

By the time it closed in 1897, about 5,000 students from all over Japan had passed through the school, making it the private school of the period.

Kangien was also known for accepting students from all classes, not just samurai, and possibly even some females. Another school of the time famous for accepting all classes of student is the Shizutani School in Okayama.

Shufuan is one of two buildings from the school that are still remaining. Both are free to enter and explore.. The other building, Tanso's favorite study Enshiro, I will post next.

Shufuan is unusual in having a usable second floor. Also at the site is a small museum about Hirose Tanso and Kangien. Everything is free to enter.

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Monday, February 28, 2022

Kuncho Sake Brewery & Museum

Sake 酒

Just about every town in Japan, large or small, has at least one sake brewery.

In Hita the biggest, Kuncho Shuzo Sake Brewery is located on the edge of Mamedamachi, the historic preservation district of the old town.

To get to the brewery's museum you walk through the front part of the brewery past the huge pots that cook the rice for the sake.

The "museum" is actually just the huge attic space filled with old barrels and assorted , mostly wooden, tools and equipment, some of which is labeled

It's quite a big space, filled with stuff, and would eprhaps be interesting to some.

They have a big shop with a wide range of sakes and masu cups available. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of sake, nor of most alcohol, so I can't comment on its quality.

Wild Japan

Monday, February 21, 2022

Hina Doll Museum in Hita


This is claimed to be the largest tiered display of Hina Dolls in Japan.

It is part of the Hina Doll Museum in the historic town of Hita in Oita.

Ten rooms display more than 4,000 Hina dolls, that have been collected by a local soy sauce magnate. The museum also sells plenty of his companies wares.

Many of the dolls onj display are from the Edo period, the time that Hina dolls took on the form and function they have nowadays.

Examples of unique styles of Hina dolls from different parts of Japan are also on display.

Entry is only 300 yen, so if you are in the area it is worth a visit. If you have a particular interest in Hina dolls then it would be worth making a trip to Hita.

The Nagashibina Doll Museum in Tottori delves into the origin of the Hina dolls.

Wild Japan

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

Hita, the historic town in the mountains of Oita, is one of many towns throughout Japan with their own Gion Matsuri, the festival that originated in Gion, Kyoto.

Hita Gion Matsuri Museum.

The festival takes place at the end of July, but for those who visit at other times there is a museum that displays the large festival floats throughout the year.


Like many matsuri, the Gion Matsuri involves a series of floats, and they are called Yamaboko because of how tall they are.


Hita has six different yamaboko, each one pulled by a different district of the town, and they are 8 meters tall and very colorfully decorated.

As well as the floats the museum also displays other things from the festival culture,  like masks

I arrived at the museum just after it closed but a gentleman from city hall nagged the old lady in charge to let me in for my own private viewing.