For the first time in my over six years in Japan, I finally made it up to the San-in Coast.
Don’t laugh – it’s harder than it sounds. Cities like Hagi and Matsue, up on the northern side of Honshu, are notoriously difficult for most people living in Japan to reach. From here in Kyushu, there are no direct (or affordable trains), NO direct flights (I’d rather not connect in Tokyo, thank you) and it’s at least a four-hour drive. Not exactly an ideal day trip.
But when you have company for your drive and friends who live nearby that are willing to join you and show you all the good spots in the city, it’s worth splashing out on expressway fees to make a long weekend out of it.
And the city of Hagi has lots to offer. Below are just two of the things it’s known for. Can you guess?
If you said oranges, you’re half right. Hagi is known for its natsumikan, a type of citrus fruit that has a slightly sour taste but is worth consuming as a juice or a jam. I got a jar of matsumikan jam at the local yuzu factory on Mt Kasa and let me just say, it didn’t last the week. Despite the name (natsu means summer), these fruits are in season during the winter.
The wall on the manhole cover is representative of Hagi’s castle district. There are several streets there with old white-washed walls still surrounding the properties and carefully maintained restaurants, cafes and pottery shops can be found dotted around the lanes. You’ll also find a ton of natsumikan trees (full orchards even) in this district as well. While my time in Hagi was marred by rain, I did have a chance to take a quick stroll of the castle area and frankly, I’d love to return for a full exploration.