Food Kyushu | Fukuoka Sightseeing

Stroll like a Samurai in Kagoshima’s heritage village of Chiran

View from the bridge at the samurai heritage village of Chiran.

 

River at the heritage samurai village of Chiran.
Chiran – small but picturesque town

Chiran is a small but picturesque hidden gem. Located in a broad valley of Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima prefecture, and surrounded by calm currents of a river, it takes you 250 years back to past Japan. The Sata family, the chief samurai retainers of the Shimizu lords, found their home in this little town and built a semi-fortified village. Some of the great samurai houses scattered along a 700-meter-long lane have survived to this date. Undoubtedly, they captivate and lure those who want to experience “the old Japan”.

Road with bushes on the side at the heritage samurai village of Chiran.
Walking down the historical street
Greenery before a house at the heritage samurai village of Chiran.
Hidden samurai house
Good luck charms hanging from a rope at the heritage samurai village of Chiran.
Good charms
Mikan on cement at the heritage samurai village of Chiran.
Small gift for a god

The samurai dwellings are largely still occupied, thus they are not open for the public. However, the main interest lies in their small but artistic gardens designed by masters from Kyoto, viewed well from the residences and the road. As indicated by English signs, they are open for visitors who can purchase the tickets. Such tickets are available in shops adjacent to parking lots or in the north end of the district.

Entrance of a house in Chiran with samurai heritage.
Samurai house – the entrance
Grass before a house with samurai heritage in Chiran.
Nature – a part of traditional dwellings
Courtyard of a house with samurai heritage in Chiran.
Samurai house – a small courtyard

The gardens resemble Chinese paintings illustrating rock groupings and mountainous scenery; scenes of valleys and tiny waterfalls. Yet, each of them are different in their composition and design. In the best of them, such as Hirayama Katsumi and Hirayama Ryoichi’s, the layout combines a peaceful zen atmosphere with a feeling of nostalgia and nobility.

Hirayama Ryoichi Garden in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.
Hirayama Ryoichi Garden

Hirayama Ryoichi Garden in the samurai heritage village of Chiran. Hirayama Ryoichi Garden in the samurai heritage village of Chiran. Hirayama Ryoichi Garden in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.   Hirayama Ryoichi Garden in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.

The heritage of the street is of character intact through stormy past events, an attraction itself. Its ancient stonewalls, evergreen bushy hedges and defensive features of the front wall elevations are a clear picture of Japan’s heritage. Screened entry gates and latrines placed besides the front gate, used by the occupants to eavesdrop on passers-by, create an immersive ambiance of the forgotten samurai life style.

Entrance of a house in Chiran with samurai heritage.
Samurai house – an entrance
Entrance of a house in Chiran with samurai heritage.
Samurai house – an entrance gate
Detail of a house in Chiran with samurai heritage.
Samurai house – a detailed craftsmanship
House plants of a house with samurai heritage in Chiran.
Samurai house – plants are an integral part of the houses

At the end of this journey you can immerse yourself in a serene mood by relaxing in the bukeyashiki (samurai residence) tea house. Its charming traditional interior is a part of an old samurai’s house. Sitting on the veranda, drinking delicious Kagoshima green tea and trying traditional local sweets such as agetenha (a brown sugar confectionery), you are very close to truly appreciating the beauty of Chiran. Alternatively, take a brief stop at Taki-an – a garden restaurant by the east end of Samurai Street. Their specialties are soba and udon, but you can also try another local delicacy: sweet jumbo mochi, a pounded rice on bamboo skewers.

Kagoshima green tea and brown sugar confectionery in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.
Kagoshima green tea and brown sugar confectionery
Tea house in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.
Tea house
Tea house veranda in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.
Tea house – a veranda
Traditional tea house interior in the samurai heritage village of Chiran.
Tea house – a traditional interior

 

Chiran

Access: Chiran is easily accessible from Kagoshima city. There are hourly buses from Kagoshima Chuo Station and Yamagata Bus Centre. The bus journey takes 80 minutes and costs around 900 yen. Another option is to rent a car from various local rental car companies.

    
Name Taki-an
Category Restaurant
Address 6329 Chiranchokori Minamikyushu Kagoshima
Access
6329 Chiranchokori Minamikyushu Kagoshima
Opening Hours 10:30-16:30
Price Range Lunch 1,000-2,000 Yen; Dinner 3,000-4,000 Yen
Payment options Cash