A wondrous townscape featuring remnants of the Edo period, created by the irony of history
The Mimi River flows through the city of Hyuga in Miyazaki Prefecture. The historic port town of Mimitsu lies at its mouth. Today, it is a tranquil and atmospheric port town, but about 150 years ago, it was a prosperous commercial port that was a hub for trade with the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, with so many houses belonging to merchants and shipping agents crowded together that people used to refer to the thousand houses of Mimitsu (Mimitsu-sengen). However, during the Taisho period (1912-1926), as transport switched to railways and roads, the once-bustling port town of Mimitsu suddenly fell into decline, with only its townscape to remind people of its former status.
Nevertheless, in 1986, it was designated as an important preservation district for groups of historic buildings, due to its townscape with remnants of its glory days. Following its sudden return to prominence, in 2007 it was selected as one of Japan’s 100 most beautiful historic landscapes and began to attract many visitors.
Among the buildings that line its three main streets running parallel to the sea, Uemachi, Nakamachi, and Shinmachi are picturesque machiya-style townhouses that incorporate many aspects of the architectural style typical of Kyoto and Osaka, such as mushikomado finely-latticed top-floor windows, kyogoshi latticed windows, and white lime plaster walls, all of which are eyecatching in their beauty. In addition, a building that was formerly the premises of a shipping agent, called Kawachiya, has been designated as a cultural asset by the city government and now houses the Hyuga City History and Folk Museum. Visitors to this district, which is almost without parallel in Japan, can conjure up images of what it must have looked like when it was a bustling port town crowded with townhouses, back in the Edo period (1603-1868).
- Mimitsu, Hyuga City, Miyazaki
- 0982-58-1101 (Mimitsu branch of Hyuga City office)