It’s fun to walk around Usuki’s old castle town. The landscape has been selected as one of the “100 Best Cityscapes” by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. You would want to walk on the streets while feeling the breeze of history and weight of time that has passed, as you go through the basic structure of the town originated in the Nyujima Castle planned by Sourin Otomo, and constructed by the Inaba family of the Usuki clan during the Edo period.
Starting with the traditional residence of the Inaba family going into “Machihatchou (8 Towns of Commerce)” including Toujin, Tatamiya, and Tamachi, you will see each town having different character highlighted with Yaeko Nogami Literature Museum and Kuge no Okura (warehouse where they used to keep the sake), and going further South from Hatchou Ooji to the area around the hill made of tuff is the “Niouza Historical Road,” which makes you feel like you have traveled in time to the past.
Jinkichizaka from Tamachi is a place where Jinkichi Yoshioka, a vassal of the Otomo family, fought when the Shimazu clan of Satsuma attacked. The rest area, around the former Shinkouji Temple, is called Kiridoshi, a little alley with stone pavement and white plaster walls, samurai residences with heavy tiles, and many temples. Another rest area is the ruins of the residence of Hidemichi Inaba, Nagaya Gate, and Sala de Usuki. There you can learn about Nanban Trade in history.
Climbing up the hill leads to the former residence of the Saitou family. The Inaba clan took an unfortunate girl Ofuku with two children and let her live in this house. She is the later Kasuga no Tsubone (Lady Kasuga) who became the wet nurse of Iemitsu Tokugawa. Marumo Residence is a house of a senior bushi warrior, with more formal architectural techniques. It was 1983 when the National Machi-nami (townscape) Conservation Seminar was held in Usuki. The event was held because the citizens were actively considering the townscape with the “Conservation Committee of Historical Landscape of Usuki” and such. Since then, civil movements and the administration have been working together to conserve the cultural properties and create new facilities and events based on tradition. The Historical Road is a result of such efforts.
It’s nice on a rainy day as well. The stone paved road shines in black. The night of Usuki Takeyoi Festival is like a fantasy come true. You would want to visit in the day and night, in each season.