Hagi Two-Day Trip: Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs in Western Japan

Hagi, a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture, has developed as a castle town facing the Sea of Japan. We introduce a two-day itinerary to enjoy historic places, local cuisine, hot springs, and stunning scenery in Hagi, a charming city in western Japan.

2022.03.10

Hagi: A Charming Castle Town in Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi Prefecture, located in western Japan, is known for beautiful places such as Motonosumi Shrine with its endless row of torii gates by the seaside. There's also the mystical Akiyoshido Cave and Kintaikyo, a wooden bridge constructed in the Edo Period.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Hagi, a city facing the Sea of Japan, is famous for its castle town with a historic buildings and streets.

Visitors can enjoy superb views of the sea and bathe in hot springs to unwind after a long journey. How about embarking on a one-night trip to appreciate Japanese culture?

We introduce a recommended itinerary that allows you to enjoy the best of what Hagi has to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, and scenery.

Day One: Take a Stroll and Enjoy Local Cuisine

Travelers departing Hiroshima or Fukuoka in the morning by train, bus, or car can reach Hagi before noon. The first spot to visit should be the former site of Hagi Castle, also known as Hagi Castle Ruins Shizuki Park. The next stop is the seaside to take in the views, then we'll head to the town.

Read on to also learn about recommended dining places and accommodation in Hagi.

The Former Site of Hagi Castle

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Hagi Castle was built in 1604 by the feudal lord Mori Terumoto (1553-1625). Since the castle was located on Mt. Shizuki, it was called Shizuki Castle.

The inner citadel was placed on the mountaintop to watch enemies moving in from the sea. It also functioned as a fort where the feudal lord took his last stand.

The castle tower base, along with the moat, remains intact. The site has been remade into Shizuki Park, which has also become a famous cherry blossom spot.


Those eager to explore deeper into the castle's history should stop by the Hagi Museum (Japanese).

Kikugahama Beach

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Take a walk to Kikugahama Beach before heading to the castle town. This is a scenic spot with pristine white sand, cerulean blue ocean, and the stunning view of the tree-covered Mt. Shizuki.

Since the castle was located on the mountain, locals were not allowed to enter the grounds for 400 years, which contributed to preserving the forest in a primeval state. The area has been designated a natural monument by the government and is frequented by those who enjoy trekking.

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to climb the mountain. If you love hiking, do enjoy the uphill stroll.

Take a Trip Back to the Edo Period! Hagi Castle Town Walk

We will now introduce some of the popular places to visit in the castle town after enjoying the seaside.

Hotoritei: Eat Lunch at a Folk House Cafe

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Before walking through the town, how about enjoying lunch at Hotoritei (Japanese), a cafe inside a folk house? The menu features plate lunches using local products alongside various beverages.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

The cafe has a beautiful karesansui garden (*1). Visitors can relax and enjoy seasonal scenery at this cafe.

*1 Karesansui garden: A Japanese dry-water garden using rocks and sand to recreate a miniature natural landscape.

Wear a Kimono and Have Your Photo Taken

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

If you've always wanted to try on a kimono, visit Kimono Style Cafe (Japanese).

After you select your favorite kimono from the ones available, the staff will help you put it on. The fee is 3,980 yen and reservations should be made two days before the visit. You can also have your photo taken by a professional photographer! This option requires an additional fee.

The Highlights of Hagi's Castle Town

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Photo by Pixta

There are many locations in Hagi Castle Town where visitors can intimately experience the unique atmosphere of the surroundings.

Kikuya Residence, designated by the Japanese government as an important cultural property, is our first recommendation. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), This residence belonged to a wealthy merchant who served the central government. Inside, you can see displays of antique artwork that reflect the elegant lifestyle at the time.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Kikuya Yokocho, the street adjacent to the residence, also retains traces of the Edo Period. Designated by the government as a historical site, it is considered one of the most picturesque roads in Japan and is an ideal spot to take photographs.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Our second recommended stop is the Birthplace of Takasugi Shinsaku (Japanese).

Shinsaku (1839-1867) was the firstborn son of Takasugi Kochuta, a high-ranking official working for the Hagi province government. In 1862, Shinsaku visited Qing, present-day Shanghai, and the trip made him question the Tokugawa shogunate's regime.

Upon returning to Japan, Shinsaku formed Kiheitai, a militia with members from various social classes that played a major role in several insurgence battles. The Kiheitai was revolutionary in that it utilized the military power that had been monopolized by the samurai class.

There is a Takasugi archive in the Hagi Museum; do visit if you'd like to learn more about this local hero.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Kido Takayoshi (1833-1877), who also sensed the unraveling of the Tokugawa shogunate just like Takasugi, worked toward the modernization of Japan. Takayoshi was also born in Hagi.

He was one of the leaders in the Meiji Restoration (*2), and spent 20 years in his home, the Former Residence of Kido Takayoshi, before leaving Hagi for Edo (present-day Tokyo).

*2 Meiji Restoration: A series of events starting with the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate to the establishment of the Meiji government of modern Japan.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

The two-storied house with a thatched roof has displays of photographs and documents. There is even a calligraphy work written by Kido Takayoshi in his youth; it is an example of the education that children in the samurai class used to receive.

There are several other fascinating places to visit in the castle town! Do stop by the gift shops that handle local crafts such as Hagi ware, local pottery famous for its unadorned beauty and loved by tea ceremony masters.

We suggest to simply take a stroll and explore the castle town at leisure.

Hagihonjin: Relax and Rest at a Hot Spring Inn

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

After your first day in Hagi, how about staying overnight at Hagihonjin? The inn is famous for its hot spring drawn from 2,000 meters underground!

The kaiseki (traditional course meal) cuisine using fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan is one of the highlights of this facility. Guests can choose to stay in either Japanese or Western-style rooms.

Day Two: Historical Places Related to the Meiji Restoration and the Beginning of Modern Japan

There are several places and facilities in Hagi that have witnessed the transition from the samurai-governed Edo period to modern Japan.

A Morning Stroll at Kanaya Tenmangu Shrine

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

How about visiting a shrine on the morning of your second day in Hagi? Kanaya Tenmangu Shrine (Japanese) is located at the entrance of the castle town. Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), a poet that came to be regarded as the guardian deity of learning, is canonized at this shrine, which was relocated here in 1720.

The majestic gate and the arched bridge are truly impressive!

Hagi Meirin Gakusha: A Turning Point in Japanese History

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Hagi Meirin Gakusha, which opened in 2017, is a tourist facility housed inside a renovated elementary school. It is located on the former grounds of Meirinkan, a facility built during the Edo Period as a school for the samurai in Hagi. Takasugi Shinzaku and Kido Takayoshi also learned at this school.

The historical material displayed here illustrates the major changes that occurred in Japanese society during the Meiji Restoration.

A visitor center is attached to Meirin Gakusha, so this is an ideal place to obtain pamphlets.

Shoka sonjuku: The Power Behind the Meiji Restoration

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Shoka sonjuku was a private school that educated supporters of the Meiji Restoration. Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859), an intellectual in the late Edo Period, also studied at this school; he was actually the grandchild of the school's founder.

While Meirinkan exclusively taught members of the samurai class, there were no restrictions regarding social class at Shoka sonjuku.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

From 1857 to his demise in 1859, Yoshida was the headmaster at Shoka sonjuku. Shoin Shrine, where he is canonized, is located on the grounds alongside other monuments.

While taking a tour of this facility, visitors will probably be able to imagine the hard-working students who used to learn at this school in the dawn of modern Japan.

Tokoji Temple: The Graves of the Mori Clan

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Founded in 1691, Tokoji is a temple that hasd a close connection to the Mori clan, the lords of Hagi Castle. The majestic main gate, triple gate, bell tower, and main hall have been registered as important cultural properties by the government.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

The graves of the Mori clan members are located behind the main hall. The rows of stone lanterns donated by clan members and retainers exceed over 500 and is an impressive sight.

Lunch and Shopping at Hagi Seamart

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

When it's time for lunch, head to Hagi Seamart.

This shopping facility located next to the fishing port handles seafood, agricultural products, and various types of souvenirs such as kamaboko (boiled fish paste), marine products, summer tangerines, and Jokisen Manju, a local specialty of Hagi.

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

There are three dining places within the facility where visitors can order set meals and seasonal seafood dishes, including sushi and kaisen-don (rice topped with fish).

Hagi Reverberatory Furnace: A World Heritage Site

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

If you have the chance to visit Hagi, it might be fun to see the Hagi Reverberatory Furnace, which is visible from the San'in Main Line trains.

This facility was originally built by the Hagi clan in 1856 to produce Western-style cannons. It is currently a World Heritage site under the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding, and Coal Mining.

Hagi: A Castle Town Facing the Japan Sea

Hagi City: Enjoy Stunning Scenery, History, and Hot Springs

Hagi, a castle town constructed during the Edo Period, is brimming with remnants of the Meiji Industrial Revolution. It is a must-visit destination for those interested in Japanese history.

Additionally, the municipality is known for being a town of camellias. The flower, also called the winter rose, blooms from December to March. There are about 25,000 camellia trees in the Kasayama Camellia Grove, where visitors can enjoy the view of flowers and the Sea of Japan in winter. There's even the Camellia Festival held during February and March. This is another event that should not be missed if you visit at this time of the year!

We hope to have sparked your interest in Hagi and visit the town firsthand to enjoy its fascinating destinations.

Written by Ramona Taranu
Sponsored by the Hagi Tourism Association
All pictures courtesy of the Hagi Tourism Association

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.