city in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan


Hagi (萩市 Hagi-shi) is one of Japan's most beautiful castle towns, with many old streets and residences that have survived untouched in this town of 50,000 people (2016).

Understand edit

 
Hagi Castle Ruins under Mount Shizuki

The first castle in Hagi was built by the Yoshimi clan. But it was not until 1608 when the Mori clan, exiled here after a humiliating defeat by the Tokugawa shogunate, built their massive, imposing castle at the foot of Mt. Shizuki. The Mori clan transferred the capital of the Choshu Domain (Choshu-han) from Hiroshima to Hagi at the same time, where it remained the political center of the region for over 250 years.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Choshu allied with the Satsuma Domain to deliver some long-awaited payback, toppling the Tokugawa shogunate and thereby spurring the Meiji Restoration — and, with it, the modernizing of feudal Japan. Many Meiji statesmen were born and raised in Hagi, such as Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese prime minister. In 2015, 5 sites in Hagi were registered as World Heritage Sites as part of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution; Hagi Castle Town (the castle ruins and historic districts), Shokasonjuku Academy, Ohitayama-tatara Iron-Smelting Works, Ebisugahana Shipyard, and Hagi Reverberatory Furnace.

Tourist information edit

  • Meirin Center, 601 Emukai, Hagi (adjacent to Meirin Center bus stop), +81 838-25-1750 (Sightseeing Association). 09:00-17:00.
  • 1 JR Higashi-Hagi Station, +81 838-25-3145. Summer 09:00-17:00, autumn-spring 09:00-17:00. Left-luggage services are available. If you're staying overnight, they can arrange delivery to your hotel while you explore the city.
  • The city's sightseeing association has a guide site. Though Japanese-only, a lot of nice photos.
  • Yamaguchi Regional Guide Interpreters cover Hagi and six other areas nearby.

Get in edit

By plane edit

  • 1 Hagi-Iwami Airport (IWJ IATA) (shuttle buses run from the airport near Masuda to the city (80 minutes)). One flight per day from Haneda (Tokyo) and Itami (Osaka) on ANA.
  • 2 Yamaguchi Ube Airport (UBJ IATA) (from Ube, take a bus to Shin-Yamaguchi Station in Yamaguchi and connect via bus from there). The prefecture's largest airport, with regular flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo on JAL and ANA (about 90 minutes).

By train edit

 
Map of Hagi

The closest Shinkansen station is Shin-Yamaguchi. Many Hikari and a few Nozomi trains stop there. The train link to Hagi from here is about 3 hours by limited express, but you can cut that in half by taking "Hagi-go" (はぎ号) bus to Hagi. It's run by Chugoku JR Bus.

If you want to take the train the full distance to Hagi, you'll want to take the Shinkansen to Asa station. Asa is only serviced by Kodama trains, and it is two stops from Shin-Yamaguchi and also two stops from Kokura, which is much more well serviced. From Asa take the Mine line to Nagatoshi (1 hour). Then take the San'in Line to Higashi-Hagi Station (half hour). You need to be careful to plan the connections well (both trains average about once every two hours), but if you do, this is about the same time as the bus from Shin-Yamaguchi.

If you like coastal scenery, you could also take the San'in line all the way from Shimonoseki, but this adds another hour.

The San'in Main Line runs around Hagi's main island. There are three stops in town: JR Higashi-Hagi Station (東萩駅), across the Matsumoto River to the east of the city center; JR Hagi Station (萩駅), a long walk to the south of the city center; and JR Tamae Station (玉江駅), a short walk south of the castle ruins and Mt. Shizuki.

Local rural trains are not particularly comfortable nor do they have air conditioning. On the other hand, people that have trouble with motion sickness will have problems with the winding mountain highways, especially the way they are driven by these buses.

By bus edit

  • 2 Hagi Bus Center (萩バスセンター), 11-2 Karahimachi (in the city center), +81 838-22-3811. The city's main bus station. Buses run from Hiroshima (four hours), Umeda and Abeno-bashi in Osaka by Kintetsu (10 hours), and Shinagawa in Tokyo by Keikyu (14 hours). There are also direct buses from Kyoto and Kobe. Within the prefecture, there are buses to the bus center and Higashi-Hagi Station from Shin-Yamaguchi Station in Yamaguchi.

Get around edit

The city center is on a delta between the Hashimoto River and the Matsumoto River. If you decide to walk, you're joining a long tradition — Hagi-Ōkan (萩往還), which connects Hagi and Yamaguchi City, was an important route during the Edo period, traveled frequently by merchants and samurai. It's now a popular trail for history-minded tourists.

By bus edit

The Hagi Junkan Maaru Bus (萩循環まぁーるバス) runs 07:00-19:00 to almost all of the tourist sights. There are stops throughout town, but the two routes — blue and red — cross paths at a few points, including the Hagi Bus Center in the center of town. There are departures every half-hour or so. Rides of any length cost only ¥100, or ¥500/700 for one/two day pass.

The blue buses cover the north, west, and northwest parts of the city, including JR Tamae Station, the castle ruins, and the Horiuchi, Jokamachi, and Teramachi areas. The red buses cover the south and northeast, including JR Higashi-Hagi Station, Daisho-in, and sites further out such as Kasayama and the Reverberating Furnace.

By bicycle edit

Most of the major sights can be easily reached by bicycle. You can rent one at several places around town, such as JR Higashi-Hagi Station and Hagi Castle.

See edit

Choshu Five

The Chōshū Five (長州五傑 Chōshū Goketsu) were members of the ruling class of the Chōshū-han. In 1863, they disguised themselves as English sailors and went to study in England at University College London, despite the policy of sakoku, which made leaving Japan illegal under penalty of death. Each went on to play a major role in the modernizing of Japan, and they remain heroes in Hagi today.

Hirobumi Ito - the first Prime Minister of Japan
Kaoru Inoue - Minister for Foreign Affairs
Yozo Yamao - prominent engineer
Kinsuke Endo - the first head of the National Mint
Masaru Inoue - known as the "Father of the Japanese Railways"

Castle Town edit

Keep an eye out for "bent key" (kaimagari 鍵曲) paths while wandering through the castle town. These sharp right angles were designed to confuse enemies and make it easy for warriors who knew the terrain to corner them, so adjust your invasions accordingly.

  • 1 Hagi Castle (萩城跡 Hagi-jō), +81 838-25-1826. Apr-Oct 08:00-16:30, Nov-Feb 08:30-16:30, March 08:00-18:00. Hagi Castle was built in 1604 by the Mōri Clan serving as the political center of the Chōshū Domain for over 250 years. After the Chōshū helped topple the shogunate, they took the lead the nation in modernization. As leaders, they wanted to set an example for everyone by dismantling a primary symbol of the feudal era in their own domain; Hagi Castle. Stone walls, the moat, and gardens mark the remains of the castle today. Plum blossoms line the moats and cherry blossoms bloom throughout the castle grounds in the late winter and spring respectively. Admission includes the Mōri House, which is just south of the park. ¥210 adults, ¥100 children.    
  • 2 Shizuki Park (指月公園 Shizuki-kōen). Surrounding the castle ruins, this park is a popular spot for cherry blossom parties in the spring. Also here are a small shrine, a teahouse, the Jozangama pottery kiln (城山窯), and a hiking path leading up to the peak of Mt. Shizuki (about 140 m).
  • 3 Asa Mōri Samurai Residence (旧厚狭毛利家萩屋敷長屋). ¥220 (includes entrance to Hagi Castle). A longhouse dating back to 1856 belonging to the Asa Mōri family, descendants of Mōri Motonari who were granted land in Asa (present-day Sanyo-Onoda). It was part of a larger estate that included the main house and other buildings however, none of the other buildings remain. Since it is a longhouse, each section is opened as their own exhibit. As you walk from one end to the other, you can see inside and learn about the house and Hagi samurai life.
  • 4 Hagi Christian Martyrs Memorial Park (萩キリシタン殉教者記念公園). The park contains the graves of Christians exiled to Hagi from Nagasaki in 1868 with a monument for Christian martyrs. It is also associated with the story of Kumagai Motonao and Amano Motonobu. During the construction of Hagi Castle, the two men were accused of stealing stones meant to be used to make the castle walls causing a 2 month delay in the castle's construction. Mōri Terumoto, who worked directly under the Tokugawa, had the two men and their entire families killed over the incident however, rumors at the time suggested the two men may have been killed for being hidden Christians and the stolen stones story was fabricated as a cover up.

Horiuchi Area edit

 
Kikuya Residence Garden

The Horiuchi area (堀内), just southeast of Shizuki Park, was a residential section for wealthy merchants and the samurai elite. Many old houses, temples, and shrines remain in good condition, with virtually no modern structures among them. Just to the east of Horiuchi, the Jokamachi area also has several interesting old houses that are open to the public.

  • 5 Aoki Shusuke Residence (青木周弼旧宅). 9:00-17:00. The home of Aoki Shusuke (1803–1863), a doctor and prominent scholar in Dutch medicinal studies. He was the personal doctor of the feudal lord Takachika Mori and treated Takasugi Shinsaku, who would light the spark that would lead to the end of the Tokugawa, for smallpox at the age of 10. The house is divided into the public doctor's office and the family area. ¥100.
  • 6 Kido Takayoshi's Childhood Home (木戸孝允旧宅). 9:00-17:00. A student of Shoin Yoshida at the local Meirinkan, later in life, at the behest of mentor Sakamoto Ryoma, Kido Takayoshi (1833 – 1877) joined Takamori Saigo and Toshimichi Okubo to form the new government during the Meiji Restoration and establish the Five Charter Oath, which abolished the provinces and created the modern prefectures. ¥100.  
  • 7 Kikuya House (菊屋家住宅 Kikuya-ke Jūtaku), 1-1 Gofuku, +81 838-25-8282. 09:00-17:30. The Kikuya merchant family lived in style, with a large house and a lovely garden. Today, their house is open to the public with over 5,000 period items on display, from dolls to a vintage phone booth. ¥500 adults, ¥300 students, ¥200 kids.
  • 8 Kubota Residence (旧久保田家住宅). 9:00-17:00. The Kubota family were kimono merchants who moved to Hagi from Omi Province (present-day Shiga). Subsequent generations abandoned kimono-making to start a sake brewery. ¥100.
  • 9 Kuchiba Residence (口羽家住宅). 9:00-17:00. Built between the late 18th century and early 19th century, it's one of the oldest samurai residences in Hagi. It was home to of one the domain's top officials. The house has a nice view of the Hashimoto River. ¥100.
  • 10 Masuda Residence (旧益田家物見矢倉). The Masuda from Masuda in Iwami Province lived here, but it is also believed to have been a secret spy location with a tower used to monitor who entered and exited the castle town.
  • 11 Meirin-kan (明倫館), 3ku no 1 Emukai (Hagi Shiyakusho bus stop), +81 838-25-3139. Established by the Choshu-han, this school for gifted children used to be on the third floor of Hagi Castle, but moved to its own facilities in 1863. The school building is still in use as a part of elementary school. Visitors are free to tour the grounds, but not the interior.
  • 12 Hagi Museum (萩博物館), 335 Horiuchi, +81 838-25-6447. 09:00-17:00. Built in 2004, this museum has exhibitions about samurai Yoshida Shoin and Takasugi Shinsaku. ¥500 adults, ¥300 students, ¥100 children.
  • 13 Takasugi Shinsaku's Birthplace (高杉晋作誕生地). 9:00-17:00. A highly-influential samurai who trained at the Shoka Sonjuku. He was the first to create a militia that recruited commoners that became known as the Kiheitai. After witnessing the defeat of his domain by Western powers, he pushed for modernization in the military, giving rifles to his Kiheitai soldiers. The simple belief that modernization would benefit Japan evolved into anti-Tokugawa sentiment as the Tokugawa actively opposed modernizing. He and his army won a civil war in the Choshu Domain to oust supporters of the Tokugawa and fended off direct attempts by the Tokugawa to regain control with weapons he'd imported from abroad. Other domains took note and began siding with the Choshu having proven their superiority. Although he died of tuberculosis in 1867, his leadership created the momentum that toppled the bakufu the following year.
    The house remains with exhibits facing outside for visitors (you cannot step into the house). The well outside is where he was bathed after his birth.
    ¥100.
  • 14 Tanaka Giichi's Birthplace (田中義一誕生地). A signboard marks the location of the former Prime Minister's birthhome. Nothing remains of the house, but those interested in the man should visit the Tanaka Villa further south in the Hiyako area.

Continuing east from Jokamachi, the Teramachi area features a cluster of old temples that were intended to double as barracks in case of enemy attack. Among the notables is Jonen-ji, whose carved front gate was transported from Kyoto by the Mori clan.

Hiyako area edit

In the southwestern part of the city is the Hiyako area (平安古), which features a few museums of interest and more old houses that are open to tourists, such as that of Giichi Tanaka, another former Prime Minister.

  • 15 Hagi Uragami Museum (山口県立萩美術館・浦上記念館), 586-1 Hiyako. 09:00-17:00. Features displays of Asian pottery and Japanese ukiyo-e (wood-block prints). Admission varies by exhibit.
  • 16 Kodama Residence Garden (旧児玉家庭園). Former residence of a high-ranking samurai. It has its own docking port connected to the Hashimoto River that allowed the family to come and go by boat directly from their home. A nice garden was built around the docking port that you can still see today.
  • 17 Tanaka Villa (旧田中別邸). 9:00-17:00. The summer villa of Tanaka Giichi who served as a decorated member of the Imperial Army before becoming Prime Minister of Japan from 1927-1929. As a military officer, he influenced armywide policies and developed strategies that aided in Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War. After the war, he worked in Manchuria to protect Japanese interests and directed the military to go after Communists and stifle Chinese attempts at reunifying with ambitions to make Manchuria a part of the Japanese Empire and expanding from there. Not long after he became Prime Minister, the ruler of Chinese Manchuria and ally of Japan, Zhang Zuolin, was assassinated by rogue members of the Japanese army. The assassination was condemned in both China and Japan. After Emperor Hirohito made a statement against Tanaka, he and many members of his cabinet stepped down. He died just a few months after resigning.
    The villa features pictures and items of Tanaka, along with his army uniforms. Outside there is a natsu mikan orchard, which was planted by the man who lived here before Tanaka.
    ¥100.

Hamasaki area edit

 
Hagi Domain's Boathouse

Hamasaki is one of the Hagi's designated historic districts. Hamasaki was established as the local port and is one of Hagi's designated historic districts for the number of buildings that remain today.

  • 18 Former Hagi Domain Boathouse (旧萩藩御船倉). Only open during special periods, but it can always be viewed from the outside. A structure built to house the ships that were being constructed to protect Hagi from nautical attacks. The sea once reached the boathouse, so ships could enter and exit the port.
  • 19 Koike Family Warehouse (旧小池家土蔵). A storehouse believed to have been used to house cargo from Hamasaki Port.
  • 20 Yamanaka Residence (旧山中家住宅). 9:00-17:00. The Yamanaka family were local seafood salesmen. They sold from here as well as sending fish to buyers in Kansai. Visitors can see items from the former business used by the Yamanaka's. Free.
  • 21 Yamamura Residence (旧山村家住宅). A wealthy family, the Yamamura's had their main house, a teahouse, and a storehouse around a central garden.
  • 22 Umeya Shichibei House (梅屋七兵衛旧宅). A sake brewer and local arms dealer, he traveled in secret to Nagasaki to procure 1000 Chinese guns for the Choshu Domain, which helped them win the Boshin War and eventually bring down the Tokugawa shogunate.

Kasayama area edit

  • 23 Kasayama (笠山) (accessible from JR Koshigahama Station, which precedes Highashi-Hagi on the San'in Line). It is the smallest active volcano in East Asia, and offers panoramic views of the Sea of Japan. Look for the lovely camellia flowers during February and March.
  • 24 Myōjin Pond (明神池). A small pond at the foot of the mountain, which houses saltwater fish.
  • 25 Reverberating Furnace (萩反射炉 Hansharo), Chinto 4897-7 (Northeast of the city center). This massive furnace was built in 1858 for the production of modern weapons, but rarely used. It's partially in ruins today, but still an impressive sight. Free.    
  • 26 Ebisugahana Shipyard (恵美須ヶ鼻造船所跡). The shogunate had originally banned shipbuilding in the provinces to avoid uprisings however, as outsiders took more interest in Japan, the ban was lifted in 1853 and within a few years the Choshu Domain began building warships with new Western technology from Russia and the Netherlands. The ruins of the shipyard were registered as part of Hagi's World Heritage listing.    
  • 27 Ajio Falls (阿字雄の滝). A unique waterfall that falls down columnal joints from the Abu Volcanoes. Free.

Shoin Shrine area edit

 
Hirobumi Ito's Humble Abode

This area is a few minutes southeast of JR Higashi-Hagi Station, across the Matsumoto River from the city center.

  • 28 Shōin Shrine (松蔭神社 shōin jinja), 1537 Matsumotoshi, Chinto, +81 838-22-4643. 08:30-17:00. A Meiji-era shrine dedicated to Yoshida Shōin, a young samurai who taught many of the students that went on to become major statesmen in Meiji Japan. Yoshida himself would not see it, though; chafing under the policy of sakoku, he tried to persuade Commodore Perry to smuggle him out of Japan, was imprisoned, and was later executed after plotting against the shogunate. Within the grounds of the shrine, his school Shōka-sonjuku (松下村塾) is preserved. There is also a hall dedicated to his life story (09:00-17:00, ¥650). Free.
  • 29 Hirobumi Ito House (伊藤博文旧宅 itō hirobumi kyūtaku), +81 838-25-3139. 09:00-17:00. The former residence of Hirobumi Itō, the aforementioned first Prime Minister of Japan, and himself a former Shoin student. He served four terms as prime minister and drafted the Meiji Constitution. After serving as Prime Minister, he went on to secure the signing of the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1907, which gave Japan power over Korean affairs, and instated himself as Resident-General of Korea. Although Ito intended to make Korea a protectorate, a vote for annexation and internal pressure from the Imperial Army led him to agree to annex it. It didn't end up mattering, though, because his initial hesitancy was enough to get him ousted from his position by more rabid supporters. A few months after his ousting, he was assassinated on his way to meeting a Russian diplomat by a Korean nationalist. He was featured on the 1000 yen banknote from 1963-1986.
    Here, you can not only see his childhood home but the residence he built in Tokyo was moved here and placed beside his childhood home. Even without knowing his story, his journey to higher status is clear when comparing the houses side-by-side.
    Free.
  • 30 Tōkō-ji (東光寺). 8:30AM-17:00. This is the family shrine of the Mori clan. The beautiful gate, belfry, and temple buildings show Chinese influence; behind the temple are the graves of several Mori warlords — and 500 stone lanterns to mark their power. It's a short walk east of Shoin Shrine. ¥300.    
  • 31 Tamaki Bunnoshin Residence (玉木文之進旧宅). The home of Yoshida Shoin's uncle who first established the Shoka Sonjuku as a local private school.

Others edit

 
Chomon Gorge
  • 32 Aibagawa Canal (藍場川) (In the southeast corner of the city.). It was built for transportation of goods, and also to supply water for extinguishing fires. Today, the path along the canal makes for a nice stroll.
  • 33 Chomon Gorge (長門峡) (The trailhead starts just across the street from Chomonkyo Station, behind the Kunkunodaichi Rest Stop. From). The gorge was featured in the ukiyoe series Selected Views of Japan by Hasui Kawase in 1922 and recognized as a National Place of Scenic Beauty in 1923. The gorge follows the Abu River from Yamaguchi to Hagi via a 5.1km hiking trail.
  • 34 Daishō-in (大照院). 08:30-17:00. The Mori warlords who aren't at Toko-ji are buried here - along with the graves of several retainers, who committed seppuku upon the death of their masters. The atmosphere at Daisho-in is strikingly calm, though, compared to the pomp of Tokoji. Daishoin is listed among the temples of the Chugoku 33 Temple Pilgrimage. ¥300.    
  • 35 Kannon-in (観音院). 08:00-17:00. Part of the Chugoku 33 Temple Pilgrimage, Kannon-in, also known as Tamae Kannon (玉江観音), was built overlooking the Hashimoto River. It is said that private meetings were held here by some of Hagi's most prominent and influential figures in the years leading up to the fall of the shogunate. The temple offers an incredible view of Mount Shizuki, the castle town, and the Sea of Japan.
  • 36 Kumaya Art Museum (熊谷美術館・熊谷家住宅). Located in the former residence of the salt-merchant Kumaya family, the museum features over 3000 items from the family's collection, such as paintings from Sesshu and a Siebold piano (the oldest piano in Japan). ¥700.
  • 37 Ohitayama-tatara Iron Smelting Works (大板山たたら製鉄遺跡). Traditional iron-smelting technology (tatara) from the ancient Kibi Kingdom in Okayama, traditionally used for swords, was given new purpose in Hagi to produce iron for warships. The Heishin-maru is one of the ships known to be made with this iron. Today the ruins are listed as part of Hagi's World Heritage listing.
  • 38 Sasanami Historic Preservation District (佐々並市伝統的建造物群保存地区). A small town built along the Hagi Okan (萩往還) in the Edo Period to connect the capital of Nagato Province (Hagi) to the capital of Suo Province (Hofu). It was used by travelers as a resting point with inns and shops. Many of the buildings still exist today.
  • 39 Kobayashi Residence (旧小林家住宅). 09:00-17:00. A former inn along the Hagi Okan. Free.
  • 40 Yukawa Residence (旧湯川家屋敷). 09:00-17:00. A samurai residence that uses water from the canal to form an attractive garden. The water is even directed into part of the house for domestic use. ¥100.
  • 41 Katsura Taro Residence (桂太郎旧宅). The second-longest serving Prime Minister of Japan who served from 1901 to 1913 and the first to be removed from office after a no-confidence vote, this is his childhood home. He studied at the Meirinkan from here. He was well-accomplished before becoming Prime Minister as a general in the Sino-Japanese War and the Governor-General of Taiwan. As Prime Minister, he oversaw Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War and the annexation of Korea. His popularity waned as the public believed he was more concerned with military expansion than with improving domestic life. Eventually the Diet also lost faith with a no-confidence vote.
    The house has a nice garden with a statue of Katsura Taro.
  • 42 Watanabe Kozo Residence (渡辺蒿蔵旧宅). 09:00-17:00. Considered a leader in shipbuilding who helped construct the Tategami dock, said to have been the best dock in all of Asia at the time. In his youth, Watanabe studied at the Shoka Sonjuku before traveling to the United States and United Kingdom to study naval architecture. He returned to become one of the heads of the Nagasaki Shipyard. The house is larger than most in Hagi. In addition to the main house, there is also a storehouse, a tearoom, and a garden. Free.

Do edit

Amidst all of the old samurai atmosphere, don't forget that Hagi is on the Sea of Japan — there's swimming to be done. Try Kikugahama, a popular beach to the east of Mt. Shizuki and north of the city center.

  • 1 Boat Cruise (萩八景遊覧船), +81 838-25-1750. Mar-Oct 09:00-16:00, Nov 09:00-15:00. The Hagi Tourist Association runs pleasant cruises on the Hashimoto River and the Sea of Japan, with a guide to direct attention to the Eight Fine Views. ¥1200 adults, ¥600 kids.
  • Kurumayado Tenjuppei (俥宿 天十平), +81 838-26-6474. 09:00-17:00. Rickshaw tours of the historic sections of the city center. They have standard itineraries to match the tour length, but substitutions can be made. For two people, expect to pay ¥6000 for 30 minutes, ¥10,000 for one hour, or ¥20,000 two hours..
  • 2 Yuzuya Honten (柚子屋本店), 1189 Chinto, +81 838-25-7511. 09:00-17:30. The natsumikan is a citrus fruit that's grown in many local gardens, and squeezed into a tasty juice. At Yuzuya Honten, you can buy natsumikan and other local fruits whole, enjoy them as ice cream, or lend a hand at turning them into juice or marmalade. It's on a peninsula directly north of the city — either take a cab or walk west from JR Koshigahama Station.
  • 3 Susa Bay Geocruising (須佐湾遊覧船ジオクルージング). 60 min ride from reserved time between 10:00-15:00 from May to October. A cruise of the bay to enjoy local geological features along the coast with the hornfels cliffs as the main highlight. Advance reservations required. ¥2200 for 5 people or more, ¥11000 total for less than 5 people.

Festivals edit

  • Hagi Hina Festival (萩城下の古き雛たち). Early Feb to Early Apr. Hina doll displays are set up in many of the historic samurai residences in the Horiuchi area. On the last day of the festival, there is a ceremony where girls put special dolls in the waters of the Aibagawa Canal called nagashibina.
  • Hagi-yaki Festival (萩焼まつり). This festival is at the beginning of May. About 50 pottery shops from around the city come to the City Gymnasium to exhibit and sell their wares. It's a great opportunity to buy hagi-yaki at a low price.
  • Hagi Summer Festival (萩夏まつり). This festival at the beginning of August. On the first day, about 8,000 fireworks are lit over the sea off Kikugahama.
  • Hagi Lantern Festival (萩万灯会). 19:30-21:30. The lanterns surrounding the Mori Clan graves are lit up at Daishoin Temple on August 13 and at Tokoji Temple on August 15
  • Hagi Historical Festival (萩時代まつり). During weekends in November, this festival involves people in traditional Choshu garb on parade through the center of town.

Buy edit

 
Hagi-yaki

A handful of souvenir shops can be found near the castle.

  • Hagi-yaki (萩焼). It is the local form of Japanese pottery and the top souvenir from a trip to Hagi. It is unique because of the way it reacts to water; over time, you'll notice delicate changes in its color. A few pottery shops offer visitors the chance to cast their own hagi-yaki — check with a tourist information office to see what is available.
  • 1 Tamachi Arcade (田町商店街 Tamachi shōtengai). It runs through the center of town with an array of small shops, modern and traditional.
  • 2 Hagi Seaside Market (萩しーまーと Hagi shīmāto). 09:30-18:00. A complex of shops and restaurants that sell fresh seafood and hagi-yaki.
  • 3 Joyful Center Susa (ジョイフルセンター須佐), 7248-10 Susa, +81 83-876-2215. Souvenir shop that offers fresh and special seafood.
  • 4 Hagi Pudding (萩ぷりん亭). As the name suggests, they make their own puddings that you can purchase as a unique local souvenir. They also sell soft-serve that you can eat while you walk.

Eat edit

Kenran Beef (見蘭牛) is a local specialty. It has a fatty, marbled texture and tenderness. Most hotels will have it on their dinner menu. Hagi is also a great place for fresh seafood, particularly sea urchin and squid.

  • 1 Ajiro (あじろ), 67 Minami Katakawa-cho, +81 838-22-0010. Th-Tu 11:30-14:00, 17:00-21:00, closed W. Kaiseki sets of the best of the local seafood catch. May not be suitable for single diners. ¥2,900-¥15,500.
  • 2 Fujitaya (ふじたやそば店), 59 Kumagaya-cho, +81 838-22-1086. 11:00-19:00. A local institution — though a bit tricky to find — Fujitaya serves hot tempura and other dishes, but the specialty is seiro-soba, in which tasty soba noodles are delivered to your table in a steaming basket. ¥700.
  • 3 Grill Restaurant Kenran (網焼きレストラン 見蘭), 89 Horiuchi, +81 838-26-0141. Restaurant 17:00-22:00, Midoriya Honten 17:00-22:00, lunch by reservation 11:30-14:00 (closed Tu). A grill restaurant known for Kenran Beef from a local farm. It can be eaten as steak, yakiniku, and in other dishes. In the same complex, they also have the Midoriya Honten, which in addition to offering meat to buy directly, they have foods that you can eat while you walk, such as croquettes and fried beef cutlets, as well as takeaway bentos, all of which feature their signature Kenran Beef.
  • 4 Hotori Tei (庭園カフェ 畔亭), 62 Minami Katakawa, +81 838-22-1755. 11:00-17:00. Lunch sets in a lovely garden setting, in Jokamachi. Later in the evening, the same folks run Sam's Irish Pub (see Drink). ¥1600.
  • 5 Isuzu (季節料理 いすず), 8-1 Imafuruhagi-machi, +81 838-22-5196. 11:00-15:00, 17:00-23:00. Sea urchin and other tasty sea critters.
  • 6 Tangotei (丹吾亭), 1232-1 Shimotama (in the former town of Tamagawa, northeast of the city center, near JR Esaki Station), +81 838-72-0264. W-M 11:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00. Delicious, freshly caught seafood, including knockout sashimi. Sets from ¥1380, or a feast for ¥5800.
  • 7 Manetsu (満悦). Lunch 12:00-15:00, Dinner 18:00-21:00. A Chinese restaurant serving ramen, gyoza, fried rice, and other popular Chinese dishes.
  • 8 Kakure Tsubaki (かくれ椿). 11:00-15:00. A lunch-only curry restaurant that also serves hot sandwiches.
  • 9 Namaste Kitchen Hagi (ナマステキッチン 萩). Lunch 11:00–15:00, Dinner 17:00–22:00. An Indian curry restaurant.
  • 10 Nanairo (なないろ). 10:30-16:00. A restaurant serving udon and various curries.
  • 11 Vengo. 17:30-23:30. An Italian restaurant with a variety of pasta dishes and Italian wines.
  • 12 Tanuki (たぬき). 11:00-15:00 (Closed We Th). The restaurant offers 25 different kinds of udon dishes.

Drink edit

Chonmage beer[dead link] (チョンマゲビール) is a local brew. Hagi also has a few traditional sake factories, with bottles available at souvenir shops.

  • 1 Café Tikal (長屋門珈琲 カフェ・ティカル), 298-1 Tsutihara (Near the gate of the Ogawa family residence.), +81 838-26-2933. Tu-Sa 09:30-20:00, Su 09:30-18:00. A traditional café with specialty coffee.
  • 2 Seisei-an (惺々庵), 1-27 Gofuku, +81 838-22-3929. 09:00-17:00. A café with a beautiful Japanese garden, right by the Kikuya House. They have a selection of hagi-yaki on display.
  • 3 Kozuchi (こづち). 18:00-24:00 (Closed We). An izakaya with seafood and locally-made alchohols.
  • 4 Hagi Samurai (萩侍). Tu-Sa19:30-27:00, Su 16:00-21:00. Hiroshima okonomiyaki made with sauce from Mihara (where the owner is from) and noodles from Onomichi. Food and drinks are served by "real" samurai with authentic chonmage, the shaved side and topknot hairstyle worn by samurai.

Sleep edit

If you're planning to splurge on a traditional Japanese inn, Hagi is a great place to do it; the art of the ryokan is taken seriously here, and the atmospheric old quarters are well worth an early morning or late evening stroll. The local ryokan association has a booking desk at the Hagi Bus Center (09:00-17:30, +81 838-22-7599).

Budget edit

  • 1 Grand Jete Hotel (グラン・ジュテ萩). A hotel with "cottage" rooms that are a bit more spacious than typical hotel rooms. They offer single and family "cottages". Singles from ¥5,300.
  • 2 Hagi Royal Intelligent Hotel (萩ロイヤルインテリジェントホテル), 3000-5 Chinto, +81 838-21-4589. A good business hotel. Amenities include Internet access and a breakfast of rice balls & miso soup. Rooms have private baths, but there's a small public bath available. Singles ¥5400, doubles ¥7400.
  • 3 Hagi Youth Hostel (萩ユースホステル), 109-22 Horiuchi (Near JR Tamae Station.), +81 838-22-0733. Check-in: 16:00-22:00, check-out: 06:00-10:00. Excellent location near the castle ruins. 68 bed hostel with some single rooms. Bicycle rentals available. beds ¥2916 per night, rooms ¥3768; breakfast ¥540, dinner ¥972.
  • 4 Hayashi-ya Ryokan (はやし屋旅館). A traditional ryokan in the isolated Sasanami Historic District. ¥6,500-¥9,000 (includes dinner and breakfast).
  • 5 Susa Bay Ecology Campsite (須佐湾エコロジーキャンプ場), 787 Susa, +81 83-876-2727. Tent campsite, with huts and cottages. tent ¥3,140, hut 11,800¥.
  • 6 Hagi Guesthouse Ruco (萩ゲストハウスRuco). Check-in: 16:00-22:00, check-out: 10:00. Has a Japanese-style room, a Western-style room, and a mixed-gender room.
  • 7 Business Hotel Hasegawa (ビジネスホテル長谷川). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. An average business hotel. Singles from ¥5600.

Mid-range edit

  • 8 Hagi Honjin (萩本陣), 385-8 Chinto, +81 838-22-5252. Western and Japanese-style rooms in a hotel eight stories tall, with a rooftop lounge and some very nice public baths. Rooms from ¥12,600.
  • 9 Senshunraku (萩焼の宿 千春楽), 467-2 Horiuchi, +81 838-22-0326. A hot spring inn with easy access to the beach at Kikugahama. The rooms aren't quite sparkling, but the armored samurai mannequins guarding the lobby ought to keep away any troublemakers. Rooms from ¥11,500.

Splurge edit

  • 10 Hagi Ichirin (萩一輪). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. A hotel with a view of the Sea of Japan that offers rooms with private onsen. They also have additional offerrings (some for extra fees), such as massages, rental bikes, kimono rentals, and hagi-yaki painting. Reservations cannot be made for single travelers.
  • 11 Hokumon Yashiki (北門屋敷), 210 Horiuchi, +81 838-22-7521. Elegant Japanese-style rooms with a beautiful garden and outdoor baths. Good seafood dinners as well. Rooms ¥20,000-68,000, including two meals.
  • 12 Hagi no yado Tomoe (萩の宿・常茂恵), 608-53 Hijiwara-Koboji, +81 838-22-0150. The height of luxury in Hagi — this is a gorgeous ryokan with a raked-stone garden, onsen, free pick-up from the train station, and more. Rooms ¥20,000-70,000, including dinner and breakfast.

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Routes through Hagi
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