Tuesday, February 15, 2011


hagi21111 (3) Friday morning we awoke to snow! it fell quite steadily as we walked to the station.

From Osaka it takes about 2 hours by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shin-Yamaguchi.

After arriving in Yamaguchi, we then caught a bus to Hagi.

The bus ride took about another 2 hours, winding through the mountains and isolated neighborhoods.

hagi21111 (2) When we arrived at Higashi-Hagi station, it was drizzling and windy.

Hagi city has a bus line, called Ma-a-ru bus (go around bus). One vehicle runs clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. They run every half hour, no matter how far you ride on this bus it is only 100 yen (about US$1).

The city also has a larger bus line which runs more frequently but costs according to the distance you ride.

Since we had just missed the Ma-a-ru bus, we walked to Shoin Shrine, a shrine dedicated to Yoshida Shoin, who helped develop many activists for the Meiji Restoration.

While walking around this shrine, we had a Shoin dango, rice cakes heated over a fire then coated with a sweet miso....330 yen (about US$3.30)

This really hit the spot since we hadn't had time for lunch.

hagi21111 (5) Around this shrine, you will also see these paper umbrellas and colorful washi (Japanese paper) hanging from the trees. We found out these were o-mikuji (random fortunes).

Usually when you go to shrines, you see white paper o-mikuji tied to tree branches, they had these types too but these umbrellas & washi were definitely pretty to see.

hagi21111 (7) From Shoin Shrine we walked to Ito Hirobumi's house, a 4-term prime minister, follower of Yoshida Shoin and the person who drafted the Meiji Constitution.

We also visited Tamaki Bunnoshin's residence, who is the uncle of Yoshida Shonin.

Down the road is Tokoji, this temple has many oni-gawara (devil tiles) on the roof tops to ward off evil.

It is also the place where many lords of the Mori clan are buried.

There is an area towards the back of the temple with 500 stone lanterns. It was kind of eery to see this place in the rain.

hagi21111 (11) Since we had missed another bus, we decided to find something to eat.

Luckily, right across from Tokoji are some tiny shops.

We popped in one for lunch.

I ordered a ji-biru (local brew) called Chonmage (top knot--the hairstyle that most samurai had), and shared it with Satoshi.

This was their brown beer called, Alt, it was fruity and delicious...650 yen (about US$6.50)

hagi21111 (12) We also ordered some udon...450 yen (about US$4.50).

This came with thick thick slices of tamagoyaki (rolled omlette), kamaboko, lots of green onion and wakame (kelp).

Since it was still very cold and drizzly, this really hit the spot.

hagi21111 (17) From Tokoji, we caught the Ma-a-ru bus to the birthplace of Yoshida Shoin.

His birthplace is in the same area as his grave is and there is apparently a nice view of Hagi city and the Japan Sea, but the weather was still bad, so we couldn't really get a good view of it.

We jumped on the bus again and went to an area called Aiba Waterway.

This waterway runs in front of many homes, where they used the water to wash their vegetables and dishes. It was also used as a means to transport firewood.

In many homes, it was common to see hatoba, an area to wash dishes or clothing.

hagi21111 (20) There were also many koi (carp) outside the homes in the waterway as well as landing areas to wash garden tools.

hagi21111 (15) Hagi is famous for its pottery, which was influenced by Korean pottery.

Most have a transparent white glaze and are pastel colored. There are also pieces that are more rustic looking, with chunkier glazing.

I got to watch the owner of the Genshu Gama as he worked on a piece on the pottery wheel.

hagi21111 (23) After a long cold day, we enjoyed our kaiseki meal which included a fugu (blowfish) hot pot, sashimi & chawan mushi (savory custard) among other items.

Way too much food as usual but I managed to eat my share after all that walking and trying to keep warm.

hagi21111 (24) You may notice at the bottom of your tea cup there is a nick.

It isn't damaged. Apparently in the feudal days, only samurai were allowed to use ceramic ware. When the lord made a nick, this signified that the piece was "damaged" and could then be passed down to the peasants.

A long first day, very cold and wet...but that was only to be the beginning of things...stay tuned!

p.s. you can check out more photos on my Flickr Yamaguchi Set.


K said...

Sounds like a great trip despite the weather - mmm odango!

Rowena... said...

What a great trip! I checked google maps to get an idea of the distance traveled and where Hagi was in relation to Minoo...cool!

K and S said...

it was K :)

definitely some place to check out Rowena :)

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a very good day, despite the weather. Interesting about the nicked pottery.

Rick said...

I love those dango that are heated over the barbecue grills. I think we must all be peasants in Hawaii because almost all the ceramic ware that restaurants serve us have nicks & cracks in them. Haha.

jalna said...

I just love your shot of the 500 stone lanterns! The lighting is beautiful . . . very moody.

Japan Australia said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip despite the cold weather and snow. Really like the Kaiseki meal, with fugu hot pot and all those lovely dishes.

Patzie said...

this is the kind of place i want to discover :) Never try dango with sweet miso before. I shouldn't miss this next time i'm in Japan.

P.s. what is your take on "Norwegian Wood" in terms of book? I was thinking of buying the book but scared of being disappointed.

K and S said...

Thanks Paz, I'm glad I asked about it :)

Rick, you are funny :)

Thanks Jalna!

Thanks J-A!

I liked the book Patzie, I saw the movie first though.

Take care everyone.

Rowena... said...

Off topic but have you tried russian beer? Specifically the Baltika brand? Just curious.

K and S said...

sorry Rowena, no I haven't, haven't seen it here, but have tried Russian chocolate, it was 99% and bad :(

Take care.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Beautiful photos. Your dinner looks delicious and I would have been tempted to buy way too much pottery. ;-)

K and S said...

luckily I already had a couple of these Hagi pottery coffee cups, Deb in Hawaii, otherwise I would definitely been buying up too ;)

Take care.

Anonymous said...

i really like your blog and each pictures of food you post looks delicious :)

hope you visit my blog too

K and S said...

Thanks for stopping by Mauro, you have a nice blog too :)

Take care.