A cycling and trekking adventure through a Japan of history and culture! The blue sea, historical sites, lush greenery, and the way of life that has not changed; this is “A trip of the real Japan recommended by a Spanish resident living in Japan”. Located near Miyajima (famous for its torii gates in the sea); Yamaguchi where Gema Galvez lives, has a special bond with Spain.
Following the footsteps of Samurais
My first stop will be the city of Hagi, an enclave that overlooks the Sea of Japan and preserves the layout and charm of the streets of the samurai era. The route is simple: arrive by bullet train to Shin-Yamaguchi station and take the Super Hagi bus, which will take about one hour to the destination.
I got off at the Hagi Meirinkan stop and directly went to the accommodation to leave my luggage and rent a bicycle, since it is the most comfortable way to navigate the city.
With the cycling map in my hand, I trace our route, which will start at the Hagi Uragami Museum. The building, designed by the famed architect responsible for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, houses an extensive collection of 5,500 Japanese woodcut prints and fine pieces of oriental pottery, making it a true gem for art lovers. Once I enjoyed the works by the renowned artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige, I got back on my bike and in about three minutes, reached the historic district of Hagi.
Strolling through its streets flanked by white walls and ancient samurai residences, I felted surrounded by the eyes of history. My next stop is the Kikuya residence, which preserves a small museum where you can discover what life was like for a wealthy family in the Edo period. This place usually draws attention for the tatami porch with a garden that appears in the tourist brochures, but upon entering the residence in spring or autumn, you will also discover another much larger garden in the back and surrounded by a pleasant aura of peace.
The visit to this residence left me wanting to continue investigating the past of the city, so I then headed to the Aiba River. Built in the mid-18th century, the Aiba River was filled with small boats that transported goods under the stone bridges that gave access to the houses. The tour through this part of Hagi is accompanied by the hundreds of colorful carps in the river and culminates in the Yukawa Residence, which preserves the area where the river water was used for household chores. Today you can still see the people of the neighborhood washing the vegetables for dinner in the river.
To make the most of the day, I made one last effort and made my way to Tokoji Temple, which is a little further from the historic center. I was welcomed with its beautiful red door, which led me through another portal of great beauty to the main altar. But the real surprise was waiting for me at the back of the temple, where the souls of the Mori clan lords rest, covered by the imposing presence of 500 stone lanterns. During the obon celebration in summer, Tokoji Temple becomes a dreamlike sight with its hundreds of lit lanterns commemorating the ancestors of the clan.
The people of Yamaguchi are very proud of the Mori clan, as it was one of the first feudal families to incorporate Western technique and thinking after isolation. The lighting of the lanterns at Tokoji Temple is a very important event in the local culture and shows how much this clan is still respected in Yamaguchi. After immersing myself in the spiritual world of ancient Japan, l biked down the slight slope from the temple until I reached the bank of the river, which led me to one of the greatest attractions of the city of Hagi: its view of the sea of Japan.
Taking the suggestion from the cycling map, I tried Isuzu, where they serve an excellent Japanese menu with fresh sashimi and sea urchin, a highly recommended delicatessen in the city. With this, my first day has come to an end. After a calming bike ride back to Ruco hostel, I joined the relaxed atmosphere at the bar and had a drink with the guests and locals.
After a day full of unforgettable experiences, I arrived at Kikugahama beach, where you can take off your shoes to enjoy a walk on the sand and feel the ocean breeze. From the shore is a spectacular sunset and Mount Shizuki as a backdrop. As the night approached, I returned to the city center ready to enjoy the authentic local cuisine.
Hagi area (Access to Hagi, Cultural and Tourist Spots, Restaurant Information)
Access to Yamaguchi Prefecture
Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Yamaguchi Ube Airport
Shinkansen (Bullet Train)
Shin-Yamaguchi Station (accessible from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Fukuoka, etc.)
（When using the Chugoku JR Bus, JR Pass is supported.）
Cultural and Tourist Spots
Business hours, Closed days, Prices, etc. may differ from those listed; please check with the store in advance.
Hagi Uragami Museum
Rare ukiyo-e prints by some of the worlds most renowned artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige are on display. Among them, Katsushika Hokusai’s ukiyo-e ‘Women with a Telescope’, from the series ‘The Seven Bad Habits is extremely’ valued, as only three have been confirmed remaining in the world. In addition to ukiyo-e, there is a large collection of oriental ceramics from China and Korea, as well as modern ceramics and crafts. In the tourist guidebook “Michelin Green Guide Japan”, it was introduced as a two-star tourist facility with the highest rank in Yamaguchi Prefecture, along with “Kintaikyo Bridge”, one of Japan’s three most famous bridges.
General Admission: Adults ¥300 Students ¥200
※ Extra charges are made for special exhibitions. Rates vary individually.
9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Last admission: 30 minutes before closing)
Mondays (except on holidays), the New Year holidays, when setting up new exhibits
[National Important Cultural Property (main house, main storehouse, gold storehouse, rice storehouse, boiler room)]
The residence of the Kikuya family, a wealthy merchant who served as a purveyor to the clan, was often used as an inn for the shogunate travel inspectors. The mansion was built in the early Edo period and is the oldest existing merchant house that has a history of 400 years. Many valuables such as the gardens, fine arts, folk arts, and old books are on display, showcasing the lifestyle of the merchants of the past. Every year, during the beautiful season of fresh greenery and the season of autumn leaves, the normally private ‘new garden’ opens to the public.
General ￥620, junior high and high school students ￥300, elementary school students ￥200.
An area where you can get a glimpse into the lives of the townspeople in the mid-18th century, for whom water was an important part of daily life. Each house has a hatoba, a room with stairs leading down to the river so that residents could use the water to wash clothes and dishes. These rooms are enclosed with blinds, so they cannot be seen into from the outside. Even now, there are people who wash vegetables in the hatoba. Stone bridges are also found along the river under which boats would pass. Today, tourists can enjoy this well-preserved scenic atmosphere, and perhaps even spot some carp swimming around.
The atmosphere of the life of the castle town is still preserved as the washing place called hatoba and the stone bridge whose center is raised for the river boat to pass are reminiscent of the old days.
The riverside is designated as a historical landscape preservation area.
Former Yukawa Family Residence (Kyu Yukawa Yashiki）
It is a feudal era samurai residence with a nagayamon-gate along the Aiba River. You can enter the residence by crossing a bridge. The main building has an entrance, a tatami room and a tea room (the design around the tea room is particularly excellent). In addition, the water of the river is drawn into the estate to create a running water type pond garden. This water from the pond is used as an in -house water supply for the hatoba and bathrooms, and is drained back to the river.
￥100(Free for children under elementary school age)
[National Important Cultural Property (Main Entrance, Sanmon Gate, Main Hall, Bell Tower)]
One of the Mōri clan’s family temples, Tōkōji is a fine example of an Obaku sect temple, with visible Chinese influences. Behind the main hall lies the burial ground of the odd-numbered generation lords of the Mōri clan, as well as their families and vassals. 500 stone lanterns line this landscape, creating a mystical atmosphere. The stone lanterns are lit during The Hagi Lantern Festival, which is an annual event that highlights the summer of Hagi.
Adults￥300, Children (elementary/junior high school students), ￥150
From the sandy beach, visitors can see Mt. Shizuki, home to Hagi’s military fortress which kept watch for attacks from the west during Japan’s period of isolation. Kikugahama Beach is the stage for some stunning sunsets over the Sea of Japan.
Go for a swim in the clear waters and enjoy the fireworks display held here on August 1 every year.
We recommend you to walk along the soft white sands while gazing at the beautiful sea.
When the beach is open for swimming, a life saver will be present, so you can enjoy swimming with peace of mind.
The Ruins of Hagi Castle / Shizuki Park (Hagijōato・Shizuki Kōen)
After losing the divisive 1600 Battle of Sekigahara, Lord Mōri Terumoto was forced to surrender his territory in Hiroshima and the Mōri clan relocated to Hagi. Hagi Castle was built in 1604. The castle was dismantled in the Meiji era, however some stone walls and moats remain, and the entire area is designated a national historic site. In spring, visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery of 600 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees. Shizuki Park is also home to the rare Midori-Yoshino cherry tree, whose pure white petals contrast strikingly with its green sepals. Bicycles are allowed on the castle grounds.
Adults ￥220, Children (elementary/junior high school students)￥100
[April-October] 8: 00 am – 6: 30 pm, [November-February] 8:30 am – 4:30 pm,[March] 8:30 am – 6:00 pm
A street unique to the castle town, the Kaimagari is constructed with right angle turns to confuse and corner the enemy.
Its thick, high walls provided cover for the residences of senior samurai.
A hidden gem of Hagi – perfect for a peaceful stroll and snapping some photos.
The Kaimagari are in Horiuchi and Hiyako, so be sure to check them out during your trip.
Whether you choose to walk or bike along this street, I am sure it will be a trip back to the past.
Business hours, Closed days, Prices, etc. may differ from those listed; please check with the store in advance.
Guest House RUCO
A quiet guest house that connects visitors with the daily life of Hagi city.
It is a fashionable and clean inn that is popular among tourists. Free Wi-Fi in the house is an added bonus.
※ If you cannot contact us through the phone, please contact us by email.
※Please check the website for details on usage.
You can enjoy a variety of sea urchin dishes, and the sea urchin bowl set meal with plenty of raw sea urchin is the most recommended.
You can enjoy a lot of fresh, rich and sweet raw sea urchin and an array of seafood.
The famous ‘Sea Urchin Bowl set meal’ is a bowl with not only an assortment of sashimi such as amberjack, squid, and octopus, but also a luxurious plate of raw sea urchin. Miso soup and 2 other side dishes are included in this filling meal. There are other selections on the menu such as grilled fish set meal, sashimi set meal, and simmered fish set meal.
The fresh seafood and sake from Yamaguchi prefecture is a delicious combination.
Located in Hagi Meirin Gakusha, which is the go-to place for sightseeing information, you can eat seasonal dishes unique to Hagi that is only found here.
In particular, the Hagi Gozen lunch can be enjoyed with all your senses.
It is a tasty dish that beautifully plates the local seafood and meats making it a popular dish to all.
There are other selections on the menu such as ‘Hagi Lunch Set’ and ‘Mini 3 Bowl Set of Fish, Meat and Vegetables’, which are also recommended.
One of the charms of this place is that the coffee here is served in a hagi -yaki cup. (traditional Hagi pottery)
lunch Hagi Gozen ¥2,400, Hagi lunch set ¥1,580
Restaurant ① 11:00 to 15:00 ② 18:00 to 21:00
(② requires reservation by the day before)
Cafe 11:00 to 17:00
Tuesdays (closed on Wednesday if Tuesday is a national holiday), every 3rd Wednesday
* In accordance with the holidays of Hagi Meirin Gakusha
The mansion built about 70 years ago has been converted into a cafe.
The site is 800 tsubo (about 2,650 m2), and you can enjoy the dry landscape garden from anywhere in the store.
A cafe where you can spend a relaxing time while gazing at the garden that changes with the seasons.
The lunch plate has both fish and meat options, so you can choose the one to your liking.
One of the charms of this cafe is that the food is served on hagi-yaki plates.
You can enjoy about 70 kinds of shaved ice, a classic of Japanese summer festivals, all year round.
The okonomiyaki and takoyaki made from carefully selected dough are also excellent.
Choosing a shaved ice flavor from all the flavor choices is also part of the fun.
On hot days, it’s a perfect place to sit down, relax, and have some shaved ice or indulge in their tasty takoyaki.
You can also enjoy the ocean view of Kikugahama Beach from the shop.
There is a menu written in English in the store.
Various types of shaved ice from 300 yen, takoyaki (8 pieces) 350 yen
No regular holidays (but temporary closes)
106-2, Imauonotana, Hagi City
Grilled Restaurant Kenran / Meat Cuisine
This is a yakiniku restaurant under direct management from manufactures of Kenran beef, which inherits the pedigree of Mishima beef, said to be the origin of Wagyu beef. You can enjoy the aroma that this meat has to offer.
At Midoriya, the adjacent ranch direct sales store, you can buy not only Mishima beef and Kenran beef, but also original homemade hams and sausages made from fresh meat, handmade side dishes such as croquettes and minced meat cutlets, and bento boxes.
Premium Short Rib ¥780, Premium loin ¥1,480
Assortment of 5 premium beef (can be ordered from 2 servings) ¥2,000 (1 serving)
Mutsumi pork short rib lettuce roll ¥700
Tail soup 800 yen, dessert (almond jelly) ¥400
5: 00pm-10: 00pm (L.O 9:30pm)
Mondays (Closed on Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday), and other irregular days
You can spend a relaxing time with delicious coffee while looking out at the garden.
The store also sells miscellaneous goods such as handmade accessories.
My recommendation is the Spicy Hagi curry set.
The set comes with summer orange juice and pickles.
I ordered summer orange juice for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised by its refreshing summer taste. It left me wanting more.
The Spicy Hagi curry was moderately spicy, well-simmered, and delicious with chunks of meat. The lotus root chips on top of the curry were a nice accent.
Next time, I would like to order the ‘Hagi Curry Set with a cheese topping’.
Spicy Hagi curry set ￥1,100
10: 00 am – 5: 00 pm (varies depending on the season)