Near the old castle in Saiki town, Oita Prefecture, there still exists a group of samurai residences dating back to the time when the area belonged to the Saiki Domain.
The Saiki Domain was founded in 1601 (Keicho 6), when the first domain lord, Takamasa Mori, moved here from his former territory of Hita, Bungo-nokuni. As the new site in the Togamurejo area was relatively inconvenient, they moved again to Hachiman-yama in Bungo-nokuni, where they built Tsuruya Castle at the mouth of the Bansho River. When this castle burned down in 1617 (Ganwa 3), the domain used the Sannomaru, at the foot of the mountain, as their castle. Samurai residences for the domain retainers were built at this time.
Today, the samurai residences around the Shiroyama area suggest the old atmosphere of the Edo period. In 1893 (Meiji 26), Doppo Kunikida, who came here to teach at the Tsuruya Gakkan, stayed with his brother at a samurai residence called Sakamoto-Tei. Now the Sakamoto-Tei is opened to the public as the Kunikida Doppo House of Saiki Castle Town.
The Yagura (watchtower) Gate of San-no-maru is part of the remains of the Saiki Domain's Tsuruya Castle, located in Saiki, Oita Prefecture.
The Saiki Domain was founded when the first domain lord, Takamasa Mori, moved from his former land of Hita, Bungo-nokuni, in 1601 (Keicho 6), and built the mountain castle called Togamure Castle. However, due to the inconvenience of the castle's location, the castle was moved to Hachiman-yama and named Tsuruya Castle. This is the castle's present site at the mouth of the Bansho River.
In its former state, the castle consisted of the Honmaru (main fortress, including the castle tower) built in a trilaminar structure; the Ninomaru (secondary fortress); the Nishidemaru (western fortress); and the Kitademaru (northern fortress). The castle tower was destroyed by fire following a lightning-strike. In 1637 (Kanei 14), the 3rd domain lord, Takanao, constructed the San-no-maru (third fortress) at the base of the mountain. The San-no-maru became the domain's administrative headquarters later on.
The Yagura Gate was constructed at the same time as San-no-maru. The Yagura Gate was reconstructed in 1726 (Kyoho 11) and 1832 (Tenpo 3). The gate's upper part is a yagura (watch tower) and is made using the 'irimoya' structure, with 'honkawabuki' roofs, and 'kabai' roof tiles. The lower half is the Katakuguri Gate.
Today, the Yagura Gate still reflects the Edo period, along with the stone walls of Tsuruya Castle and the later San-no-maru Palace.
Shiroyama is a hill in Saiki, Okayama Prefecture. It is 144m high, and also known as Hachimanyama.
The ruins of Saiki Castle (Tsuruya Castle) are sited on top of the hill. The first lord of the Saiki domain, Takamasa Mori, built Tsuruya Castle when he moved from his former land in Hita, Bungo-nokuni in 1601.
Although this castle was a 'hirayama-jiro' (castle made at the top of a hill), it featured a 'honmaru' (main fortress) with a trilaminar structure 'tenshu' (tower castle), a 'ninomaru' (secondary fortress), the 'nishidemaru' (western fortress) and the 'kitademaru' (northern fortress). This castle also had 5 'yagura' (watch tower), 1 flat-roofed 'yagura' and seven gates. It was made to withstand attack and be ready for warfare.
In 1637, the tenshu was razed in a fire and was never reconstructed. Later a 'sannomaru' (third fortress) was constructed at the base of the hill. The domain was administered from the sannomaru, after the loss of the tenshu.
Today, sannomaru's stone walls and yagura gate can still be seen at Shiroyama. The top of the hill has now changed into a park.
Standing quietly at the base of the hill are the former residences of the Saiki samurai, where the retainers of the Saiki domain used to live.
Mt. Mio or sometimes called Mt. Miomo is located between Hita City and Yamakuni Town in Oita Pref. Written in Kanji, the name normally reads “isshaku-hassun-yama” literally meaning “54 cm mountain,” from which it is said to be the most difficult mountain name to read. Actually the mountain has a height of 706.7 m. There are many legends about the origin of this difficult name; one goes that once a local governor caught three wild bores and the total length of the tails was 54 cm. Another goes that there lived a large fox with the 54-cm tail. Considering the fact that there are many place with the name bearing the word “o” meaning a tail in Japanese around the mountain foot area such as Nagaono, Shigeo, Kumanoo, Asaono, and Futatsuo, there may be grain of truth in those stories. Mt. Mio is a slender tableland, the summit of which is covered with trees. On the summit stands a sign board with the words “The most difficult name to read in Japan.” Visitors can enjoy the view from the ridge short of the summit. You need to be careful in climbing this mountain because it has a deep bosom for its height.
The Hita Gion Festival is held to pray for peace and ward off evil and misfortune, and takes place in Hita, Oita Prefecture.
The Hita Gion Festival is an epic festival held every summer to protect the community from illness and damage from floods and storms, as well to pray for peace. It began as a festival to ward off evil in the Kuma and Mameda region. Soon, genuine, full-scale hikiyama (floats in the shape of samurai helmets, fish, dragons etc.) were built, along with the development and elaboration of the festival, which has continued to develop into its present form.
In 1988, the 10m-high yamaboko (festival float) was revived for the first time in 90 years and was simply mind-blowing. Nine sets of yamaboko go around the city day and night, and compete to be the most luxurious and gorgeous float. Gion musical accompaniment is an imperative and essential part of the rounds of the city, with its unique sounds of the flute, drums and shamisen. The all-star roundup of the 9 yamaboko in front of Hita JR station is impressive and spectacular. In 1996, the festival was designated an important intangible folk cultural asset of Japan.
Shioji Primeval Forest is in Maetsue-machi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. The primeval shioji tree is a waterside deciduous broadleaf tree native to Japan.
Shioji forest spreads for 3ha across the hills of Shakadake in western Maetsue and is a precious primeval forest, where Japan's few remaining shioji trees can be seen in their natural state. The annual rainfall of this forest zone is over 3000mm, making it very damp and humid. Many varieties of moss and low plants thrive in this environment, as well as rare insects and small animals that are the subjects of scientific study.
The water that wells out from the soft soil and the rich forest is plentiful in minerals and forms the headwaters of the Chikugo River. In addition to shioji, many other deciduous broadleaf trees grow near the forest, including beech and maple.
The primeval shioji forest is an example of a preserved area that reveals a part of Japan's original environment.
Gongen Waterfall is a narrow yet majestic waterfall located in Maetsuemachi, in Hita, Oita Prefecture. The waterfall is 15m high but only 5m wide.
Gongen Waterfall is near a narrow path that heads toward Shakage-dake from Ideno on prefectural road No.673. It flows alongside a walkway 200m from the sign. Around the upper reaches of the waterfall, there is a natural forest of shioji (a waterside deciduous broad-leaf tree); the scene created by the red leaves of these trees in autumn is really impressive.
The waters of Gongen Waterfall come from springs that well out from the shioji primeval forest of Gozen-dake. Many small streams gather to flow down the deep valley and become the waterfall.
The young vivid-green leaves of early summer, the crimson leaves of autumn, and the scenery from the summit of the mountain are all breathtaking whenever you see them. Gongen Waterfall in Oita is a place that allows people to feel the breath of nature, and to indulge in deep emotions.
Shakadake mountain is located in Hita, Oita Prefecture. In January and February, the hoarfrost on the mountain is absolutely beautiful and has become a winter specialty of Shakadake.
Shakadake is the dominant peak in the Tsue mountain range. The observatory on Shakadake is positioned at an altitude of 1230m and is the highest in Oita Prefecture. Because of this, it has a radar dome installed by the Ministry of Construction, along with three radio relay towers for the Meteorological Agency, the Defense Agency and for Oita Prefecture.
In Soma Village Mountain Stream Park, the sight of pure white peaks soaring majestically in the deep blue sky during the hoarfrost season can only be described as astounding and phenomenal. On fine days, the keen blue sky spreads endlessly, and hoarfrost in the shape of flowers blooms all over the trees of the mountain, resulting in a splendid view. The hoarfrost of Shakadake is nature's kaleidoscope, and invites spectators into a different, enchanting world.