Any visit to Oita Prefecture, located on the eastern coast of Kyushu should include a stopover at one of the main attractions in the area, Nakatsu Castle. Easily accessible, the castle is located just 15 minutes on foot from the JR Nakatsu Station on the Nippo Main Line between Kokura City in Kitakyushu and Kagoshima.
Classified as one of the three great water castles of Japan, Nakatsu Castle is located on the edge of the beach and in its time utilized the sea as part of its defensive structure. Construction of Nakatsu Castle was begun in 1587 by Kuroda Yoshitaka and was completed by his replacement Hosokawa Tadaoki who also built Kokura Castle. The castle switched hands several times in the course of history, until its abandonment in 1871 with the establishment of the Meiji Government.
The castle was burned down by local samurai in 1877 in what became known as the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The current concrete reconstruction of the 5-storied keep was built in 1964. As no images or plans of the castle existed, Nakatsu was modelled after Hagi Castle also known as Shizuki Castle, located in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Located on the top floor of Nakatsu Castle is an observation deck with excellent views of the town and the coast. The remainder of the castle houses a museum with a sizeable collection of armor, weapons, roof tiles, photographs and rangaku items (Dutch/ Western learning).
Rangaku is the term used to identify a body of knowledge developed by Japan through its contacts with the Dutch traders who were the only European foreigners tolerated in Japan from 1639- 1853 due the Tokugawa shogunate’s policy of national isolation. Through Rangaku, Japan learned many aspects of the scientific and technological revolution that was taking place in Europe at that time.
Today, Japan welcomes visitors from all over the world and Oita, particularly the Yufuin and Beppu, resorts attracts over 10 million visitors a year! Furthermore, Oita is ideal for those looking to get away from the crowds by seeking out nature, hot springs and regional delicacies as well as the landscapes reminiscent of the Edo Period.
1273 Ninocho, Nakatsu-shi, Oita 871-0050
Admission: free for grounds
¥400 for the castle museum (¥150 for children)
Tel: 0979 22 3651
Photo Credits: Rocky Andoh