Asia Japan

Usuki Samurai District in Ōita, Japan

On my trip in Northern Kyushu, I decided to do a spontaneous visit to Usuki. I can still remember how excited my hostel dormmate was when she was telling me about Usuki Samurai District, Usuki Sekibutsu and the Lotus Flower festival. She said it would be a great opportunity for me to see the lotus flowers, which are in bloom from mid-July to mid-August.

stone buddha
stone buddha outside Usuki Station

Beppu to Usuki by Train

I woke up very early that day, went to Beppu Station and grabbed two onigiris for breakfast at Family Mart before I boarded the train going to Oita Station. From there, I took a train going to Usuki Station. It was only an hour by local train (or around 30 minutes by Limited express trains), which goes into the Oita mountains, until I reached my destination. I almost freaked out when I woke up from a nap and found myself alone in the train! We passed by some unmanned trains stations, which was fascinating! Haha. Good thing, I downloaded an English train map and saw that we are almost at Usuki Station.

It was amazing to see old Japanese houses still being used by current locals

Travel tip: Local trains to Usuki are not covered by JR Northern Kyushu Rail Pass but covered by JR Pass or JR Kyushu Rail Pass (All Kyushu Area Pass). If you are a Northern Kyushu Rail Pass holder, take a train to Oita Station which the pass covers. Then buy a train ticket to Usuki which costs 740 yen one way.

Free Use of Bikes for Tourists at Usuki Station

I arrived at Usuki Station at 10:00 AM. Then I went to Usuki Tourist Centre located just beside the station. They do not have English speaking representatives but I managed to get a map and to ask about the bus schedule for Usuki Stone Buddhas. My Japanese dorm mate also told me that Usuki City provides free bikes for tourists.

I did some sign language so that the Ojisan would understand what I am requesting. Haha. He gave me a bike and an Usuki pamphlet. He also told me to come back at 12 noon to catch the bus going to the Stone Buddhas. Thank God I did learn some Japanese phrases before this trip!

Usuki Samurai District

Usuki Samurai District is a former castle town located on the east coast of Ōita Prefecture, Japan. The historic district is one of those places where you can still see how the Japanese feudal community looked like hundreds of years ago. According to the Usuki Pamphlet, roughly 40 hectares of Central Usuki have been set aside for historical preservation; and about 70 building are designated landmarks.

I did not know anything about Usuki prior to my arrival in Japan, so I was hesitant to go at first. It only took an hour of research before I finally decided to go. One of the advantages of solo travelling is you are definitely more flexible with time. You are free to change your plans whenever you want to, without explanations or disappointing anyone. I cannot imagine I would fall in love with solo travel. Lol!

Japanese graveyard

I am always fascinated with Japanese graves and cemeteries. They are different from what we are used to in the Philippines. A typical Japanese grave usually have a stone monument with a place for flowers, incense, a chamber underneath for the ashes, and a bunch of other strange things that I never really understood.  

Nioza Historical Road

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the samurai district on a bike, immersing myself in the Nioza Historical Road. This charming 200-meter lane meandered gracefully amidst ancient temples and well-preserved Edo-period residences.

Even though there’s a museum and a few old temples and shrines in Usuki, for me the main attraction here was the town itself and the descendants of the townspeople who had been continually inhabiting these traditional houses for centuries.

Usuki Castle Ruins

Although the main keep of Usuki Castle has been lost to time, I had the opportunity to marvel at the resilient stone walls, the grand main gate, and a few remaining structures. The surrounding grounds of Usuki Castle have been transformed into a picturesque park. I am pretty sure the park looks enchanting when cherry blossoms are in full bloom during the spring season.

This is the wooden torii gate outside the castle ruins. I wasn’t sure if there was a Shinto Shrine inside because I did not enter the castle grounds.

Usuki Samurai District: Haccho Oji Market

On the way back to Usuki Station, I decided to bike around Haccho Oji Market, a shopping street that stretches alongside Nioza Historic Road. Most shops were closed so I wasn’t able to buy souvenirs.

I went back to Usuki Station just in time for the bus going Usuki Stone Buddhas. So, that’s all for now. I will create another blog post for the Stone Buddhas, so please do stay tuned for that! The post will be up in a few days 🙂 Have a beautiful week ahead my dear readers!

By Project Gora

Hey there! My name is Milet Miranda, and I'm a full-time corporate employee during weekdays and a traveler during weekends (and get the picture). I'm a foodie at heart and I love joining food tours. When I'm not traveling, you'll find me walking my dogs or biking around my neighborhood.

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