Wandering Through Usuki - The Castle Town on the East Coast of Oita Prefecture
If you have not seen Emma (Tokidoki Traveller) and Shiori dance their way through Usuki City, an old castle town in Oita Japan, then click on the video below!
Usuki is located on the East coast of Oita Prefecture, just an hour from Beppu, and is accessible by train, bus, car, and even ferry. It is known as a secluded island home to the Usuki Castle, build around 1556. Now, due to land reclamation, all that remains are the castle ruins and an area that is less of a secluded island and more of a small town welcoming visitors.
Usuki Stone Buddhas
One of Usuki’s most popular attractions are the stone Buddhas carved into the walls of cliffs just 5 km Southwest of the Usuki city center. These national treasures were carved out of volcanic rock from nearby Mount Aso and were raised up during the Heian period of Japan. A path taking about 30 minutes for 540 yen will easily take you to each of the four areas where you can see all of the stone Buddhas watching over Usuki. The Buddhas are extremely fragile and are constantly be preserved, so make sure to do some research on the best time to see them.
Address: 〒 875-0064 Oita Prefecture Otsuchi-shi Oji Fukada
Hours: April to September - 6:00 am to 7:00 pm | October to March - 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Kuroshima Island 🏝
The first stop on Emma and Shiori’s adventure was to Kuroshima Island. Make sure to book your 500 yen ticket to this island in advance since it is, exclusively, only open to the public during the summer. This cute island is only 3 km and houses beautiful beaches, a tranquil atmosphere, and is the perfect location for camping. The island is reinventing itself by welcoming more travelers with many events throughout the year. Some popular events for visitors surround cosplay since the beach environment provides the perfect aesthetic for cosplay enthusiasts.
DE LIEfDE Museum
If you are planning on traveling to Kuroshima Island like Emma and Shiori, make sure to pay homage to the English navigator, William Adams who sailed to Japan in 1600, later to become one of the first Western samurai. Glance at various photos, paintings, and even replicas of Western ships Adams helped make for Japan. Outside the museum, you can find a circle of busts representing the English and Dutch travelers. Keep an eye out for the statue of Adams since he is the one you will want to take a pic with!
Mandarin Farms 🍊
As you hike through the mountainous region of Kuroshima Island, feel free to observe the many mandarin farms on your way up. You might even have the chance to try some of the mandarins yourself, but they are not like the mandarins you find at home. After you peel away the outer, orange skin make sure not to eat the tough, white skin still surrounded the fruit. If you’re interested in how the mandarins are transferred throughout the island, we recommend following the tracks to the many carts powered by small engines. You will definitely pass more mandarins along the way! 🍊
Utono Inari Shrine ⛩
Once back in Usuki City, Emma and Shiori wandered to the Utono Inari Shrine 10 minutes from the main station. Known as a fox shrine 🦊, Utono Inari was constructed at the same time as the Usuki Castle and used to stand next to it on a 30 m tall hill. Take Instagram worthy pics as you climb the hill through the torii gates lining the pathway. ⛩ Once you reach the shrine, admire the amazing surrounding area of Usuki by finding sakura trees (if you are there in the spring), the Tsukumi Island, and age-old buildings.
Address: 91 Nyujima Usuki Usuki Park, Usuki 875-0041 Oita Prefecture
Hina Dolls at Former Zenkoji Temple 🎎
Not far from the Utono Inari Shrine, you can find the former Zenkoji Temple currently filled with beautiful, handmade hina dolls or paper dolls. Made out of paper because of the minimalist ideals set by Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo era, these paper dolls are priceless relics to many families in Japan. They are also commonly displayed during a holiday called Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day or Doll’s Day) on March 3rd of every year. Nowadays, you can find very expensive Hina dolls but we think that taking Shiori’s advice and making your own is more affordable and fun! 🎎
Kanishoyu (Kagiya) 🍦
The last stop on Emma and Shiori’s trip was for dessert at Kanishoyu (Kagiya). The shop opened in 1600 and has been selling miso and miso flavored goods since then. Miso is a traditional seasoning paste made in Japan using fermented soybeans, salt, and koji (aspergillus oryzae).
For only 350 yen, you can purchase a heaping amount of miso soft cream containing vanilla ice cream topped with miso biscuits and miso sauce. 😋What makes this dessert so tempting is that it serves you salty with the miso toppings and sweet with the vanilla ice cream; a perfect mix! 🍦
Address: 〒 875-0041 Honmachi, Usuki, Oita 875-0041, Japan
We hope you enjoyed following Emma and Shiori’s adventure around Usuki and we hope you can experience all the fun they had! While they went during the Winter months, we recommend you check it out during the Spring or Summer when the cherry blossoms are in bloom or when it is the perfect beach weather. Although these are just a few stops we made, we know there are more awesome places in Usuki to check out!
Written by: Ellie Harrison