Travel

Nakatsu City in Oita Prefecture

I guess it’s finally time to report about my awesome winter vacation in Kyushu!
Let’s start with the first day of my winter vacation that I spent in Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture.
I stayed in Kyushu during the entire time. From Kita-Kyushu and Hakata (Fukuoka) it’s not so far to Oita Prefecture and so that was my starting point.

 

Visited: December 29th 2011

The reason why I chose Nakatsu City?

As for Oita Prefecture I’ve already been to Beppu (*highly recommended, blog entry will follow) in 2009, so this time I wanted to visit Yufuin and Nakatsu.
Nakatsu City might not be the typical tourist spot (and as I’ve been to so many places already, I like to keep off the “main tourist tracks” from time to time), but the city has a VERY nice castle.

If you still don’t know by now, let me tell you again: I’m a (Japanese) Castle Hunter!!! [insert crazy laughter here]
So that was reason enough for me to visit, but Nakatsu City has much more to offer and I’m going to show you some of it in this post!

Sonic Limited Express Japan

Sonic Limited Express from Kokura to Nakatsu, very comfortable! There’s also a local line, but it takes twice as long. I really fell in love with the Limited Express trains in Kyushu! They’re much more comfortable than the Shinkansen!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Welcome to castle town Nakatsu!
I have to admit that I became a manhole cover addict and take photos of all the beautiful covers in every city I visit.
One day I should make a post just about that, I guess.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Japan – the country of contraries.
Old and new / traditional and modern / dark and gloomy weather and blue sky. I guess the weather couldn’t make up its mind that day.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

On my way from the station to the castle (yes, you can easily walk to all the attractions!) I came across this small shrine right next to the main road.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

The reason why I even mention such a small shrine can be seen in the photo above. *lol*
I visited a famous “penis festival” in 2012.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu funny Japanese sign

Wow, there were still ‘momiji’ (autumn colors) in Kyushu!
And I can’t get enough of the cute signs in Japan!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

On your way to the castle you’ll enter “Tera-machi” (a name for a part of a city or town where a lot of temples are pretty close to each other, you’ll find that in various cities).
And so I strolled through the narrow and quiet roads, sight .. ahr, temple-seeing!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Among all the small temples, there was one remarkable temple, Goganji Temple (合元寺)!
It’s also known as “Red Wall Temple“. The vassals of samurai warrior, Utsunomiya Shigefusa, died in battle here, leaving bloodstains on the wall. Even after the wall was re-plastered repeatedly, the bloodstains would not recede, thus leaving a wall of red.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Hello Kitty is “in”, even among stone statues, I guess!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Just kept exploring “Tera-machi” a little bit more. Who said that small temples are boring?

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

There’s so many beautiful, interesting and funny things to discover!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

All kinds of creatures are waiting just for you!!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Some might not be so … cute …

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

… others definitely are! There were SO MANY cats in Nakatsu! I love cats and I love to take photos of cats (esp. when there’s a temple or castle in the background). I rarely get that setting, though.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

This cat was quite shy, trying to run away and hide, but in the end I got it, kekeke~

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Next stop was at Fukuzawa Yukichi‘s Old Residence Memorial Museum.
Fuku.. who? Well, even if you’ve never heard of him, if you’ve ever been to Japan I’m sure you know his face as it’s printed on the 10.000yen banknote!!
He is considered as one of the founders of modern Japan. He was a Japanese author, writer, teacher, translator, entrepreneur and political theorist who founded Keio University.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Photos were not allowed in the 2-floor museum, so I just took some outside instead.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Part of his old residence.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

There was also a small shrine on the ground featuring plates with his face on them.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

I also ran into a small Inari shrine on my way to the castle.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

As every Inari Shrine this one also had fox stone statues.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

The area around the castle, especially the river, is really beautiful!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Nakatsu Castle

And here it is: Nakatsu Castle!
The castle dates back to 1588, but was reconstructed in 1964, so it’s not an original castle anymore.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Nakatsu Castle

It’s a rather big castle with a shrine on the castle grounds. Definitely among my “top castles”!!
Here’s a pamphlet (in Japanese), also with details about the reconstruction.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

First, I had a closer look at the shrine.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Okay, THIS is scary!!!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Nakatsu Castle

Then, I finally approached the castle!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Nakatsu Castle

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Nakatsu Castle

Photos inside were allowed. Mainly samurai armors, swords and other things. No English descriptions which is quite normal in most not so famous castles anyway.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

This scary looking dude is Torii Suneemon (鳥居 強右衛門). He was a low-class footman (ashigaru) who served the Okudaira family, retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu. He became famous for his bravery and incredible exploit at the siege of Nagashino.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

The top floor offered a very nice view of Nakatsu City.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

As you can see the weather couldn’t make up its mind. Blue sky on one side, gray on the other.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

And here you can see the castle and shrine grounds.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Back out of the castles, I was strolling around on the castle / park grounds a bit when I saw this really funky looking stone statue with a Hawaiian shirt?! *lol*

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu
cats in japan cats in japan

And then I spotted some more cats!!!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Most hilarious stone statue ever!
And then it was time to leave Nakatsu Castle.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

On my way back to the station, I spotted this … kitschy looking church.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Back at the station I took a bus that would take me to “Komo Hachiman Shrine” (薦神社).

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

The shrine grounds are spacious with a huge lake and a red gate in the lake.
There were still autumn leaves (momiji) there!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

A very interesting, but weird-looking elephant sculpture.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Strolling around the shrine grounds while waiting for the next bus back.

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

There aren’t many busses per day going to Komo Shrine, so if you don’t have a car make sure you time it well!

On the bus back to the station I was the only passenger.
The bus driver started talking to me. At first I didn’t understand him until I figured he wasn’t speaking Japanese but trying to speak English to me, so I told him in Japanese, that it’s okay to talk with me in Japanese.
Then, he asked many questions and once he heard that I CAN speak English despite being German, he wanted me to check his English. Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu
So, he said all the “bus driver phrases” like “hassha shimasu (発射します)” and added what he thought was the correct English.
I was quite annoyed, but what can you do?
I was happy to get off the bus in the end! ^-^; ….

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

Back at Nakatsu Station where they have Japan’s longest wooden eel bench!

Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu

I took the Sonic Limited Express again. In order to get to Yufuin from Nakatsu you have to pass via the capital of Oita Prefecture which is, surprise surprise, Oita City!

And that was my first day of winter vacation.
I hope you enjoyed it. This time I started with the more boring and quiet places and did the highlights later on.
Coming up next: Yufuin

Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions, complaints or whatever by commenting.

22 Comments

  • Yay, first to comment here again! (I’m not stalking your blog, not really at all. :ehehe: )

    Another castle on your list! Another good information I got from here is about Fukuzawa Yukichi. I didn’t know he’s on the ichiman bill. :huh: Maybe I didn’t care at all. But since he’s the founder of Keio University, I might get interested about him. ;P

    It’s no surprise there are still autumn leaves in Kyushuu, I saw the same in Nara. Maybe because it’s warmer down there?

    I’m getting fascinated by your gully and cat pictures. Thanks for posting this up. =)

    • Aww, thanks so much for commenting! :hearts:
      And don’t worry, you seem to be one of the only ones who actually comments anyways.
      I REALLY appreciate it!! Stalk away! :hihi:

      That’s what I thought, but Kyushu was much colder than expected.
      I think it’s because the autumn colors were generally super late this year (just as the cherry blossoms)?!

      Thank you! :camera:

  • All of the photos are gorgeous. My favorite is the lake, with the autumn leaves, and the torii gate. It’s a great shot!

    I love all the cats, so many cute cats!!! :D But that bug, ew! :P

  • I loved your photos, as usual, particularly the lake and the small torii by the lake with the autumn leaves. I am intrigued by the pink “spider flower”. I cannot tell what plant it is. Really beautiful and unusual. It reminds of some wild woodland azaleas, but also of Lycoris flowers.

    • monakaさん、コメントありがとうございます! :music2:
      びっくりしました!こういうドイツ語通訳サイトがあると全く知りませんでした。
      初めて知りました!教えてくれて、ありがとうございます。 :luvit:

      そうですか。
      でも、実は母国(ドイツ)では全く旅行しません!! :sweatdrop2:
      面白いですね。住んでいる所ではあまり旅行しないのはなぜでしょうかね。

      もう北海道と沖縄以外、ほとんど各所に行きました!
      もし良かったら、これから私のブログを読んでくれませんか。
      まだ知らない観光場所が出てくるかもしれません。 :hihi:

  • Waaah Nakatsu seems like such a beautiful place :luvit: I should probably visit this place as well someday!

    Lol that guy must sure have bled a lot if they had to pain the whole wall red :happy:
    I really love temples, even though I’m not religious at all. Especially if they have attached gardens, that stone/sand garden in your photo is amazing :heart:

    And yay for kawaii neko photos :fan:

    • When I was really into “Hanakimi” I was all giggly when I found out that there’s a “Nakatsu” Castle!!! I HAD to visit it, but never actually was nearby.
      FINALLY I made it! :peace:

    • Those spiders are EVERYWHERE in Japan. And blieve me when I say that THOSE are not scary. There are much bigger and thus scarier spiders out there!
      One day I should write a post about all those creepy crawlers.

      Thank you! :camera: :hearts:

  • Gully? Is that what they’re called? I always called them “manhole covers” lol. But I’m a gully addict and castle hunter too! :fan: I’ll be walking along the street with friends and suddenly I just stop to take a picture of the pretty covers. I think everyone thinks I’m crazy. D:

    That’s as far as I got in your entry before I got all excited about the castle and gullies, so I’m gonna keep reading now! :hearts:

    • It’s not? I don’t know that’s what I always call them. It’s also a German word.

      No, no!! I’m exactly the same!! I imagine both of us doing that together when we meet one day! I guess we’d get stared at even more than usually! :hihi:

      I’m glad to hear that. Thank you! :hearts:

  • Thanks for all your information!! You are so lucky to be able to visit so many places in Japan!! Some of your info also helped me in my trip. Just came back from 10 day trip to Kyushu…took advantage of Hawaiian Airlines new route and special fare to Fukuoka. Stayed at Comfort Inn Hakata right across the street from Hakata Station. Set up is like Toyoko Inn. My 3rd time there. Went to Yanagawa, Dazaifu, and Kyushu National MUseum for 1st time. Went to Nagasaki for 2nd time. Went to Kumamoto and had just enough time to see Kumamoto Castle…want to see more of Kumamoto next time. Then to Kagoshima to see Sengan-en Garden…no time to go to Shiroyama. Next day went to Kirishima to see Uenohara Jomon Archaeological site…Fantastic architecture and settlement…more people should visit! I hope to go back again. Off the Sakurajima and enjoyed Furusato Onsen. “Shiro-kuma” everybody should have some. Stayed at Toyoko Inn Kagoshima-chuou..great location and place to stay.
    We had a couple of hours in Miyazaki before catching bus to Takachiho. Saw 4 great Kagura performances. Stayed at Hana Ryokan Iwatoya..right next to the Iwato Shrine…also great onsen and food there…and shuttle bus that took us to the performance and reasonable price for lodging, onsen, breakfast and dinner!!
    Went to Yufuin for a day and enjoyed public onsen there…wish we had more time to shop…will consider spending night there next time. Stayed in Beppu at International Kokage…fun place to stay if you like old and antiques like I do and in Kannawa at Shinji, a “toji-ayado” like ryokan…3 onsen, great food and reasonable price. Only 5 minutes away from visitor center and “jigokumushi” dinner and 10 minutes walk to jigoku’s….Also had coffee at a neat coffee shop called Musubino Cafe. There is also a live theatre with Japanese show we passed as we walked to the Visitor’s Center for dinner that we missed seeing. Next time need to spend more time in Kannawa also!!
    Looking forward to hear more of your trips!!!
    Julie

    • Welcome back, Julie!
      Wow, sounds like you had a great time!!
      Thank you so much for sharing your travel experience in such great detail!
      I’m sure it will be helpful for other readers as well! :D

      I wanted to visit Kirishima several times already, but never had the chance to yet. I’m envious! ;P

  • Oh wow! I just moved to Nakatsu a month or so ago, and was delighted to see this on a Google search! I have to say, you did a great job showing the city – while I haven’t gotten out much (Komo shrine last weekend, haven’t seen the castle yet) you give me hope to find all sorts of odd things around.

    As a newcomer to Japan, I have to say, the amount of small shrines everywhere always makes me happy – I’m glad it seems I’m not the only one :3

    • Hello Samantha! ^__^

      Welcome to Japan! You live in a great area, I’m a little envious! I hope you’ll soon get a chance to explore Kyushu!
      Have you been to some onsen in Beppu or Yufuin yet?
      I’m sure you’ll enjoy living there and exploring the tiny, less famous, but still interesting things out there! :D

  • Ich weiß, der Post ist bereits 1 Jahr alt, aber ich bin gerade erst über deinen Blog gestolpert. Wirklich süßes Design und die Einträge, die ich bisher gelesen habe, waren wirklich schön geschrieben, informativ und tolle Fotos :shiawase:

    Ich plane gerade 1 Jahr Working Holiday in Japan und suche Anregungen, was ich mir alles so anschauen könnte. Nakatsu City steht definitv mit auf meinem Plan~ :D

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