Fascinating culture in Kitsuki
Travelling is not only to explore heart touching landscapes, take beautiful photos but also to experience the local culture. So let me tell you what I have learned from one day in Kitsuki city!
Kitsuki is a small city located in the northeast of Oita Prefecture. The city is referred to as a little Kyoto with ancient streets and Samurai houses with old-fashioned Japanese architectural concepts. Despite being a small city, Kitsuki still possesses its own features that cannot be seen in other places.
Kitsuki is the unique sandwich-shaped city
It sounds strange, doesn't it? Both sides of the commercial town are in high areas that need to move up to reach. For that reason, people often think of the commercial town as the sandwich core and both sides of it as the crusts! Another special feature is that the shape of Kitsuki from the beginning till now has never changed!
Kitsuki had a clear distinction among social classes through the residence
It was clearly shown during the period when the Samurai class had the absolute power to decide most national affairs.
High ranking samurai were living in the high hill paralleled to the commercial town. The higher the rank, the higher residence. Of course, their areas were much larger with gardens as pretty as a picture. Besides, the monks - who had an equally important role also had their old areas (called Teramachi) on high ground near the commercial town in Kitsuki. On the contrary, civilians and farmers lived far from the commercial town: on the very edge of Kitsuki.
Kitsuki used to have its own currency
Although people still used the common currency of Japan at that time, Kitsuki still launched separate paper notes which could only be used in Kitsuki.
When I visited the museum, I was told that Kitsuki's currency was issued and used interchangeably because the official one was too scarce. This paper note is still on display at the local history museum. So if you come to Kitsuki, please visit the museum to know more interesting stories.
The enthusiastic staffs in the museum can speak English so I'm pretty sure you will have a great experience here!
Schools in Kitsuki were fee-free and opened for everyone.
You may have heard in the past, only rich officials could afford their children to go to school? But it did not happen in Kitsuki since all schools were free of charge. However, due to difficult circumstances, children also had to work to make a living for families so not many students could pursue their studies.
Very few convenience stores (Combini)
In a country like Japan where you find all kinds of convenience stores every 100 meters, places like Kitsuki are strange and a little bit "inconvenient". There are only a few stores located at the outer edge which is quite far from the commercial town. Therefore, when I went to Kitsuki, I got nothing to eat all day because I thought there were convenience stores everywhere. So if you visit here please note!
However, due to the very limited number of convenience stores, the old grocery stores are still retained which probably may not be seen in other cities of Japan. Small stores selling home appliances, food or cigarette located in some random streets in Kitsuki will make you nostalgic about the good old days if you see it by chance!
Above are 5 things that I partially experienced and learned in Kitsuki. Which one do you find the most interesting? To me, I found its paper notes most fascinating because it is hard to understand why such a small city could print its own currency. See you again in the next post!
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