Kitsuki, samurai districts and kimono

3:59 AM Béné (ベネ) 1 Comments

Saturday, I left Fukuoka to go to the nearby Oitaprefecture and specifically Kitsuki city (杵築).
I was looking for months about a daytrip in this part of Kyushu and  I found this place completely randomly while browsing the web on a different subject.

Kitsuki city
Welcome to Kitsuki !
Located on the south of Kunisaki Peninsula (国東半島), Kitsuki is called the small Kyoto of Kyushu's little Kyoto because of its...wait a minute ! This nickname doesn't remind you anything ? There is also a Kyushu's little Kyoto in Fukuoka, I blogged about it last year. Japanese cities are like businesses and compete on everything. Anyway, I was saying that the city inherited the nickname because of its remarkably preserved historic center.
The city can be reached by train and then by bus or taxi.

Because of Monday which was a national holiday, Hakata station was really crowded and I couldn't reserve a seat on the train. I inwardly congratulated myself for arriving early enough to place me on the platform and I could get a window wseat ithout problem.
Sonic train connects Fukuoka (Hakata) and Oita prefecture via Kokura (小倉) or Beppu (別府) . The journey is quite long and punctuated by numerous stops but rather beautiful landscape.

Once there, I took the bus to the historic center.
More than the old stones (and the old wood), what attracted me to Kitsuki is the Kimono Appreciation Day (きもの感謝祭, Kimono Kansha-sai). Held on the third Saturday of each month , this event encourages tourists to discover and wear a kimono to visit the city, that lends itself particularly well to this type of clothes.
In general, Kitsuki relies heavily on kimonos : people wearing one don't pay some locations and receive a paper with lots of discounts for shops and restaurants nearby. But during these special days, people can be photographed for free by a professional placed somewhere in the city (the location changes evert month) : we receives the picture when returning the kimono (i wonder how people who come with their own can receive the picture...)

Only one shop offers kimonos for rent and I found it a bit disappointing : the choice is varied and beautiful  but the staff isn't very friendly and the kimono is put on a hurry. Now that I know how to wear one correctly by myself, I noticed several little things that aren't normally do and found that my obi was not tight enough, dragging the fabric, especially towards the end of the day. The rental is not very expensive (see below) but I would have expected a little more careful wor.

That day, I chose a dark blue with colorful floral patterns kimono and an orange obi with maple leaves, suitable for the season. For hair, I took example on the many Japanese kimono-loving girls I follow on Instagram and choose to wear a hat instead of the traditionnal flowers. It was a risky choice but I like how it looked.
Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono, Kitsuki city
This orange light, this background.. Are we really are in 2015 ?
My kimono on, I began my walk around the city.
The historic district of Kitsuki is quite charming. It has two samurai districts separated by a road with many traditional houses and facing a beautiful castle overlooking the Beppu Bay. Most samurai houses are open to the public, some are free, some are not, but all are fun to visit, on socks on the tatami mats. We even can try to play the shamisen, a traditionnal Japanese stringed instrument.
The kimono is quite suitable to the city and there are many people who wear it, women as men. The most tricky part was climbing the slopes : really small steps are your friend.. And after all, you have all the time you want.

As in Fukuoka, maples were not spectacular : this autumn was pretty warm and the color changing of maple is later than usual. Some trees are even still green but the leaves begin to fall. I hope that the cold snap we have since yesterday is going to arrange some things for this weekend. But apart from this small disappointment, the city is well worth the trip and the nickname of Kyushu's little Kyoto.

Ville de Kitsuki
Slopes are hard to climb but the view is great.
Ville de Kitsuki

Momoji, Kitsuki
Miracle ! Red leaves !
Ville de Kitsuki

Ville de Kitsuki

Kakis, Kitsuki city, Oita
Do you want some kakis ?
Kitsuki Castle

Kitsuki, Oita

Tatami, maison de samurai, Kitsuki

Kitsuki Castle

At 2:30pm, I had an appointment with a local photographer for a photo short photo shoot. Last month I was contacted by a yukata (summer cotton kimono) manufacturer based on Nagoya who was interested in me to do some modeling for his next collection. He send my email address to one of its photographers living in Oita prefecture and we agreed that he would come to see me to make a few test shots.
We went to a cafe and began to talk about what the manufacturer would like me to do : I would therefore serve as a model for his next collection but ... he also talked that he would like me to create my own yukata ! The graphic designer that I am was immediately excited and I strongly hope that this will happen because it would be a fascinating thing to do.

After the words, pictures time! We went to the castle for a few minutes photo shoot. He gave me great advices on how to pose but as I am not used to be a model, I was awkward. However, it turned quite good, what do you think ?

Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono, Kitsuki city
Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono, Kitsuki city

Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono, Kitsuki city

Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono, Kitsuki city

Béné no Fukuoka - Kimono

Once finished, I went to the shop to dress back in normal clothes, drank some juice, came back to take more pictures of the castle and it was already time to leave. Bus schedule do not coincide with the train one so I waited an hour in the station's waiting room watching the sumo tournament ... not the most exciting thing when you have no interest in the sport but the high school girls next to me were captivated.

On the train I had this time a reserved place ... but I came across what must be the only broken seat in a Japanese train. Fortunately the train was empty and I could change places with no problem.

I want to try again the Kimono Appreciation Day but my next Oita trip will be in another city, discovered through my work, which will also be a dip in the past but in another century.
It is a journey which is not expected to take place before January, however, unless I choose to don't go to Hokkaido for New year holidays ( I want to see some snow !).

Do these kinds of experiences / small towns tempt you ?

O shirô (お城) : castle
Keshiki (景色) : view
Saka (坂) : slope
Shashin satsuei (写真撮影) : photo shoot
Moderu (モデル) : model

Kitsuki City (杵築市)
Official home page

Acces from Hakata station :
Prendre le train express Sonic and get off at Kitsuki station (1h52, 4620 yens in non-reserved seat).
Please note that in Kokura station, you have to rotate your seat to stay in the good way. .
In front f Kitsuki station, take the bus to Kitsuki Bus Terminal  (10 minutes, 290 yens).

Kimono rental Warakuan (和楽庵(着物レンタル&着付け)) 
Adress :
372-4 Kitsuki, Oita Prefecture

Phone :

Prices :
2400 yens
Tabi (socks) : 100 yens
Hair ornements : 100 yens

Opening hours :
Everyday (except wednesdays) from 10am to 4pm

How about this posts?