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A town with Samurai

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Japan's historic castle towns

Japan is a land with a fascinating history. One of the most interesting segments of history is the eras in which castles were constructed. Many of these remain in part or have been reconstructed and many historic castle towns are extremely well preserved. 

In this blog for Japanese learners, Japanese teacher Hiroshi Yamamoto used to live in one of these towns. Listen to Yamamoto sensei explain what life is like there and look at the wonderful photos to get a sense of the place.

A town with Samurai




 最初は、職人の住んでいたです。今でも当時の建物で商売をしている「あやべ味噌屋」 や、木製品を作っている「萬力屋」があります。「萬力屋」では、シュウマイなどを蒸す時に使うせいろうなどを作っています。商品は全て昔からの伝統的な方法で手作をしています。70歳のお父さんとその息子さんが毎日店の中で座って作業をしています。それらは一枚の薄い板をきれいに丸く曲げて接着材なども使わず組み立てています。







To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video. 



 最初(さいしょ)は、職人の住んでいた通(とお)りです。今でも当時(とうじ)の建物(たてもの)で商売(しょうばい)をしている「あやべ味噌屋(みそや)」 や、木製品(もくせいひん)を作っている「萬力屋(まんりきや)」 があります。「萬力屋」では、シュウマイなどを蒸(む)す時に使うせいろうなどを作っています。商品(しょうひん)は全(すべ)て昔からの伝統的(でんとうてき)な方法(ほうほう)で手作(てづくり)をしています。70歳(さい)のお父さんとその息子さんが毎日店の中で座(すわ)って作業(さぎょう)をしています。それらは一枚(いちまい)の薄(うす)い板(いた)をきれいに丸(まる)く曲(ま)げて接着材(さっちゃくざい)釘(くぎ)なども使わず組(く)み立(た)てています。




A town with Samurai

Before I used to live in the neighboring town of Kitsuki City. It’s a castle town with a castle, and roughly about 150 years ago many Samurai and craftsmen lived there. Even now the scenes and skills from those times still remain there today just as they did before. So I’d like to introduce these a little today.

First, there is the street on which the craftsmen lived. There are shops that still trade in the same buildings as they did in those times, like ‘Ayabe Miso’ and a shop that makes wooden products, called ‘Manrikiya’. ‘Manrikiya’ makes the wooden baskets that are used to steam Shumai dumplings. All of the products are hand-made using the same traditional methods from ancient times. A 70-year-old father and his son sit in the store all day working. They curve a piece of wood beautifully into a circle and create the works without using any glue or nails.

I once bought a lunchbox made from Cyprus wood from this store. When I was working at a company, I used this lunchbox every day. The design is really simple and I really like it. Cyprus has an antibacterial effect and it also makes the rice taste delicious. I feel glad to use the same products today in the same way as people did in ancient times.

Next, there is the street on which Samurai lived. On this road now there is an Elementary school and a Kindergarten. The site is one where a Han School, which was a school for Samurai children, once stood. My daughters went to this school. The school is now made of concrete but is designed like a castle. The wall is the same one as the one from those times and the old Han school’s gate still remains too. Children use it today when commuting to school. When walking down this street, I feel like a Samurai could just appear on the street corner. I think it is wonderful that some spaces that were used in ancient times have been dearly preserved today, and are still being used today.

There are a lot of other daily life activities being taking place here within the ancient atmosphere. It’s an important place for me, and when I stroll downtown in this castle town, I always feel healed.


隣町(となりまち):neighboring town

杵築市(きつきし):Kituki city


城下町(じょうかまち):castle town

侍(さむらい):warrior (esp. of military retainers of daimyos in the Edo period); samurai







味噌(みそ):miso; fermented condiment usu. made from soybeans

屋(や):(something) shop

木製品(もくせいひん):wooden products



蒸(む)す:to steam

せいろう:steaming basket



曲(ま)げる:to curve



組(く)み立(た)て:make up

ヒノキ:hinoki cypress

弁当箱(べんとうばこ):lunch box

勤(つと)める: to be employed (at)


抗菌作用(こうきんさよう):antibacterial effect


藩校(はんこう):Han school​The han school was an educational institution in the Edo

コンクリート製(せい):made of concrete



当時(とうじ):at that time


通学(つうがく):commuting to school

角(かど):(street) corner



日常生活(にちじょうせいかつ): daily life

ぶらりと:stroll out

立(た)ち寄(よ)る:to stop by

癒(いや)す:to heal


Konnichiwa! My name is Hiroshi Yamamoto. I live in Oita in Kyushu with my family (my wife, daughter and an old female cat). Oita is famous for hot springs. I often visit hot springs in the winter.

My hobbies are gardening and watching soccer. When caring for my plants, I notice their daily changes and I feel relaxed. About soccer, I played soccer until about 20 years ago. But now I just watch the game.

I worked for a machine manufacturer for about 40 years. During that time, I worked in various departments including factory, trade, research and development, sales, general affairs, accounting, and auditing. I think I can help you to understand about business, industry and life in Japan from my experience.

What is your purpose of studying Japanese? Let’s make your dream come true by learning Japanese. I will do my best in our class to help you achieve your goals. Please knock on the classroom door at any time.

Start 3 Trial FlexLessons for only $9 !

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Guest Sunday, 24 October 2021