The beautifully preserved Izumi-Fumoto was built 400 years ago, making it the oldest former residential area of samurai in Kagoshima prefecture. At 46 hectares, it was also the largest: a nod to Izumi’s strategic importance because of its proximity to modern-day Kumamoto prefecture. Traces of that time can be seen everywhere, from the grid design of the streets to the wide roads constructed to reflect the high status of the samurai.
Much of the townscape, including the defensive stone walls and hedges, remain relatively unchanged, while the samurai residences have been restored to their former glory. There are about 150 samurai-related buildings in Izumi-Fumoto, many of which are still occupied by descendants of samurai, and the whole area is designated an important preservation district of historic buildings. Take a stroll along the picturesque streets to get a sense where hundreds of samurai once called home.
Two former samurai residences are open to the public, offering a rare glimpse into samurai life. Both are large, with a number of beautiful tatami-mat rooms, historic items on display and leafy gardens.
Takezoe-tei is an excellent example of a high-ranking samurai’s house. It was featured on the Japanese TV drama Atsuhime. Explore the rooms where samurai spent time planning, eating, sleeping and entertaining. Sit by the sunken hearth once used not only to cook food but also to heat the home. There is a wide range of old tableware and kitchenware on display as well as a samurai sword and other historic pieces. Peek into the 400-year-old bathhouse where samurai took a dip.
Saisho-tei features an indoor archery practice area behind a removable door. Check out the bow and arrows as well as the target with many holes! There are many signs this house designed with defense in mind. Weapons adorn the walls and there are some hiding spots. Lift the wooden beams over the hearth to find a secret refuge and look up to see ladders once used by samurai to flee to the upper floors of the house.
An English guide can be downloaded at each property using the local free Wi-Fi so you can more fully appreciate the way of life of the samurai.
Open all year round
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