Monday 5 January 2009

Nakatsu City

Mizuho and I recently ventured into Nakatsu’s tera machi (temple town). We went at the ideal time (an unusually cold and grey skied day) to avoid large groups of tourists. The two highlights of this relaxing wintery stroll were visiting the former residence of Fukuzawa Yukichi, and going to Goganji, a relatively famous temple here in Oita Prefecture. I thought I'd post something about these two historical places in Nakatsu City.

This exquisite building is also known as Akakabe dera (which literally translates as 'the red wall temple’). Many years ago, when the Daimyo, Kuroda Yoshitaka had several influential people murdered. The vassals at Goganji were also assassinated and their blood splattered on the temple walls. After several unsuccessful attempts to paint over the blood stains, it was decided to paint the walls red.
The former residence of Fukuzawa Yukichi

The largest note/bill in Japan is ichiman (10,000 yen) and the man featured on it is Yukichi Fukuzawa. Fukuzawa resided in Nakatsu City during his teens, and his home has been well maintained as a national treasure. His influence on the modernization of Japan is nothing less than colossal. For some general information about Fukuzawa Yukichi click here: One point of interest, for Shotokan karateka, is that Fukuzawa founded Keio Gijuku (which later became Keio University), one of the ‘Big Three’ educational institutions in Japan. Needless to say, Keio University was an important venue for Gichin Funakoshi’s promotion of karate-do. And therefore, the Keio University Karate Club was a pillar in establishment of Shotokan-ryu.

I thoroughly recommend anyone visiting Kyushu to go to Nakatsu City, and explore its historical tera machi. As cold as we appear in these pictures, we still had a fantastic time.

© André Bertel, Japan 2009

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