The city of Kitsuki (čníz) is located on the southern side of the Kunisaki Peninsula. The city center is sometimes referred to as a "sandwich castle town", because of its interesting topography of having two samurai districts on hills north and south respectively, sandwiching a commercial district in the middle. The districts combined measure about 500 meters north-south and 1.5 kilometers east-west, with Kitsuki Castle standing at the eastern end, close to the coast facing the Seto Inland Sea.
Successful efforts have been made to keep these historic districts free of distractions such as power lines and unsightly signs, thus preserving their authentic atmospheres. The beautiful town features multiple photogenic slopes and samurai residences that are open to the public. Amiable locals look forward to engage with visitors, making it a friendly environment for tourists.
Some of the town's best attractions are listed below. A combination ticket for 1000 yen provides admission to all of them. At Warakuan near the Historical Museum, visitors can rent kimono for around 3000 yen, dress in them and stroll the quaint town, taking pictures reminiscent of past centuries.
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: No closing days Admission: 400 yen
Originally built in 1394, Kitsuki Castle was lost during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). The present three-tiered main keep was reconstructed in 1970. It is said to be the smallest castle in Japan. Standing on top of a plateau by the sea, it offers nice views overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. Within the keep is a small museum, exhibiting items related to Kitsuki, such as the belongings of past feudal lords.
Northern Samurai District
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: No closing days Admission: 300 yen
Members of the Ohara family were once the chief retainers of the local feudal lords. Their former residence is often considered the finest surviving samurai dwelling in Kitsuki, as its earthen walls, wooden facade and straw thatched roof combine to produce a very authentic image. Visitors are able to see various tatami mat and wooden floored rooms, as well as a lovely garden which surrounds the house.
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: December 29 to January 3 Admission: Free
This former samurai residence was recently restored to its original appearance. Unlike the other residences, it can be entered for free. In addition, it features a nice small cafe where various beverages and snacks are served.
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: December 29 to January 3 Admission: 300 yen
This former samurai residence was at one time used as a resting place for the local feudal lord. Today, the residence houses a small art museum and displays scrolls of ink paintings and other works.
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: Tuesday to Thursday, December 29 to January 3 Admission: 150 yen
Since the early Edo Period, members of the Sano family have been medical practitioners. Constructed in the 1700s, the Sano Residence is believed to be oldest wooden town house in Kitsuki in existence. Visitors can see medical tools used in the past, including a German-made microscope from the Meiji Period.
Southern Samurai District
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: Wednesdays, December 29 to January 3 Admission: 300 yen
The Kitsuki Castle Town Historical Museum is a modest museum exhibiting a range of cultural artifacts and items preserved from the past. On the first floor stands a large float that is used during the Tenjin Festival on July 25 in Kitsuki every year. There is also a diorama which shows how the town looked like in the past.
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) Closed: December 29 to January 3 Admission: 150 yen
This majestic residence was once the home of an important politician. It was completed relatively recently in 1929 and incorporates many architectural elements of both the Showa and Edo Periods. Visitors can view its wide tatami mat rooms and exhibits, such as antiques and drawings. Views of Kitsuki Castle and the sea can also be enjoyed.
Getting there and around
Kitsuki is located halfway between Beppu and Oita Airport.
Kitsuki Station stands about five kilometers outside of the city center. A taxi ride from the station into the city center takes about ten minutes and costs 1500 to 2000 yen.
There are also hourly buses that run between Oita Airport, Kitsuki Bus Terminal, Beppu (Kitahama bus stop) and Oita Station. The ride from Oita Airport to Kitsuki takes 30 minutes and costs 720 yen, while from Beppu it takes 50 minutes and costs around 1000 yen. Kitsuki Bus Terminal is located in the city center.