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July 15, 2018 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Residences
Hagi is close to the only location in Japan where I have seen a town so classically broken up into four sections which can be seen through their residences. There is an upper samurai district, a middle samurai district and poor samurai district. This post will focus on the different residences found in Hagi.
My first residence for the day was the Katsura Residence which is located in the poor samurai district. This location costs 100 yen to enter or it's also possible to buy a combo ticket which costs 310 yen which gets you into 9 different residences. Note that some of these residences would cost 500-600 yen in other cities (Kakunodate - I'm looking at you!)
The thing which is impressive with these residences if how people try and tell you about the history. Many also have english translations and people will often take you on guided tours in some of the larger houses.
Located just down the road from the previous residence is the Yukawa Residence. This residence costs 100 yen to enter or is also included in the combo ticket. Note that carp will often swim up and down the waterway which is still found at the front of both buildings.
My next stop was the Watanabe Residence which was free to enter. If you visit Hagi, I would strongly suggest hiring a bike as the town is large and there is too much to see in one day (or even two days!) by foot. This is a 5 minute bike ride from the previous location.
Located next to the river is the Tanaka Residence which costs 100 yen to enter and even has it's own orangey naturally. Note that the streets around this residence are some of the most picturesque in all of Japan.
One thing I have started to notice is the total number of residences in Hagi! The strange thing is I have not seen them all! This is the Kodama Residence which is free to enter and looks as though they don't open it up regularly as there are only so many volunteers a town can have.
My next residence was the Kuchiba Residence which costs 100 yen to enter or is included in the combo ticket. Note that this residence used to be 3 times bigger than it is now. It also has a nice sitting area where you can watch the river. I was also lucky and the lady who worked here spoke english and showed me around.
Located very close to the castle ruins is the Mori Residence. This costs 100 yen to enter or is included in the combo ticket. It is also included in your castle ticket if you are not visiting any other residence. Note I do not have many photos from this location as there were wasps when I visited.
The next location I visited was the Kikuya Residence which costs 600 yen to enter. If you have visited another museum in Hagi (such as the Hagi Museum), they will often give you a discount ticket which gives you discounts to other museums in the city. If you have this, entry is 500 yen instead.
In a city with excellent residences, the Kikuya Residence is definitely the largest and most impressive. It also has a lot more 'stuff' inside and is an excellent example of a high samurai residence.
Located opposite from the Kikuya Residence is the Kubota Residence. It costs 100 yen to enter or is also included in the combo ticket. Unlike other residences, I tend to remember that the owner was in the Kimono industry.
Close to the two other residences in a sidestreet is the Takoyoshi Residence. As expected, it costs 100 yen to enter or is also included in the combo ticket. In general, I have noticed that most of the paid residences are better than the free residences (but some of the free residences are good!)
My last residence for this post was the Aoki Residence, which costs 100 yen to enter or is also included in the combo ticket. Note that the combo ticket is only valid for one day and there is a lot of walking needed if you visit all in the same day.
As you can see, Hagi has a lot to see and it's best to spend two full days to get the best out of this town. I came back to this town again to complete everything and I have once again failed to do this. Unfortunately, I am on my last trip to Honshu so I doubt that I will be visiting Hagi again - but you can! For tomorrow, I will be visiting Tsuwano in Shimane prefecture.
Hagi Tourist Information: http://www.hagishi.com/en/