Obi Castle Town
Kysuhu's little Kyoto has a big history.
Known by some as Kyushu’s own little Kyoto, the Obi Castle Town, located in Nichinan, is a compact samurai treasure trove offering an array of activities that lend insight into the history of Miyazaki Prefecture.
Built sometime during the 15th century, Obi Castle is a relic that stands as a testament to the long-waged wars between two fierce samurai clans. Originally built by the Shimazu clan to protect themselves from the Itoh clan, they relinquished control of the castle to the latter after war broke out in 1484. Nearly 100 years later, the Shimazu managed to recapture their land but lost it once again in a siege initiated by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, an ally of the Itoh clan. The castle was then refurbished and expanded to withstand natural disasters.
The castle once again underwent a major renovation in the 70s, when the main gate was rebuilt with Obi cedar wood using traditional methods. The town’s cedar wood is highly valued because of its quality. Light and malleable, with a low density, Obi wood was an ideal material used to build ships and therefore proved to be essential when conducting trade during the Edo period.
The Matsu no Mara, which is a modern replica of the wife of Lord Itoh’s place of residence, was also erected, and is reminiscent of Edo-period style architecture. Another residence, the Yoshokan, has all its room face southwards as per tradition, overlooking a beautiful Japanese garden. A smaller-scale garden can be found at the nearby Ito Denzaemon, a picturesque house that exemplifies where a high-ranking samurai could be expected to live.
In addition to having a regal, elegantly-flourished castle, the picturesque Obi Castle Town offers visitors the option of purchasing a map that comes with five food and souvenir coupons redeemable at over 40 participating shops. Be sure to try out the local version of satsuma-age, deep fried vegetable and fish paste patties.
Your tour guide may also offer you the chance to deck yourself out in replicas of samurai armour or a traditional Japanese kimono to pose for a selfie or two (or twenty).