On the southernmost end of Fukuoka prefecture, bordered by the Ariake sea in the west and Miike mountain in the Northeast, lies the city of Omuta (大牟田市). The city is far from expanse, yet there is so much to see and do! Here are five reasons to visit Omuta (sponsored post).
(Photo of Daijayama float by @n.chuusan0914)
5. Immerse Yourself in Culture at the Omuta Daijayama Festival
The Daijyayama Festival is Omuta’s signature summer event. It’s held on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of July and has over 30,000 attendees each year!
The origins of the Festival are believed to be over 350 years old, when the Daijayama character was born. Legend has it that the water gods of the Suijin Faith (symbolized by snakes and dragons) and the gods of the Gion Faith (agriculture and cleansing) were intertwined, thus creating the legendary Daijayama.
During the festival, people parade through the city riding on the large serpent Daijayama floats, while playing taiko drums and ringing bells.
The floats are over 10 metres long, weigh around 3 tons, and have handmade heads, torsos and tails created out of paper and bamboo.
The Daijayama are brought to life by the work of over 200 people, who help the creatures move their heads, widen their eyes, and breathe fire and smoke (thanks to hand-held fireworks) from their gaping mouths.
(photo by: @mie.38_k)
Other festival highlights include fireworks, Port Festival, and the Grand Dance, where over 10,000 people dance in procession for 2km to the Daijayama and Tankobushi songs. This is surely an event not to miss! (Photo of by @n.chuusan0914)
4. Let Your Troubles Melt Away in an Onsen
Renowned hot springs like Mikawa Onsen, Hirayama Onsen and Yamaga Onsen are not too far away and are sure to ease your tired muscles after a long day’s travel. History buffs should be sure to visit Sakura Onsen, built 370 years ago. The wooden building was initially only used by domain officials, but is open to the public these days. Today, its Edo period architectural design is still preserved. (photo of Hirayama Onsen by @djosamum)
3. Gaze on the Delightful Seasonal Flora and Fauna
Japan is famous for cherry blossoms in the spring, but there are so many other beautiful flowers to see. The Omuta area has a delightful range of flora you can gaze upon through the seasons!
February-March: Garyubai (Japanese Apricot)
From late February until early March, beautiful Garyubai blossom at the Fuko-ji Temple (located on Miike Mountain). The tree is over 450 years old!
(photo by: @machi__.trip)
March-April: Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)
The best time to enjoy delicate cherry blossoms in Omuta is from late March to early April at Enmei and Amagi Parks.
(photo by: @0812mayu)
Be sure to catch a glimpse of the lovely Azalea from late April until early May at the Omuta Coal Industry and Science Museum
(photo by: @ellbee65 )
Beautiful Hangrea abound from late May until mid-June at the Jorin Temple.
(photo by @theeorganized1)
November: Japanese Maple
Stroll along the path to Fuko Temple from mid to late November to bask in the beauty of Japanese Maples in the autumn.
(photo at Fuko-ji by: @omutahitomeguri)
2. Sample Delectable Local Cuisine
Though the city is far from expanse, Omuta is full of fine food!
In 1949, four men from Okayama moved to Omuta, made quite popular with coal mining at the time, and introduced ramen. Omuta Ramen started as a food truck in front of JNR Omuta Station (now JR Omuta station) and quickly grew in popularity. With thick noodles and a rich taste, Omuta Ramen was loved by miners then and by locals today. Be sure to try some Omuta Ramen on your visit!
(Photo by @wakotan47)
The confectionary industry flourished alongside the mining industry, and at its ts peak, there were over 200 confectionary stores in Omuta, providing sweets to miners at the end of a long working day. This lead to the creation of the Castella Bun which is actually the originator of baked Manju buns, a popular sweet in Japan. Born in the Meiji era, this delectable treat satisfied many a miner’s sweet tooth!
(photo by @omutahitomeguri)
Okonomiyaki, also known as “Dago” in Omuta, is quite popular here. The city actually has the highest ratio of Okonomiyaki restaurants versus people over any other city in Japan! Each restaurant has their own unique take on this iconic dish, and all are delicious. Be sure to try a few!
(photo by @prof.sealion)
1. Discover the History Behind Japan's Industrial Revolution
You can begin your world cultural heritage tour at the Omuta Coal Industry and Science Museum. There you can learn about the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding, and Coal Mining, before continuing on to visit a few of the sites themselves (photo by: @adventure_with_ana)
Beautiful red-brick Meiji industrial buildings, juxtaposed with metallic machinery are the focal points of both Miyanohara and Manda Pits. Both locales house original machinery, and feature steal head framed shafts (pictured above). In the early 1900's, Miyanhara Pit boasted the most up-to-date and powerful pumping facilities in the world.
Location: 10 minute drive from Omuta Station
Miike Coal Railway
Coal production and distribution transformed the rural Japanese landscape into a modern one, but a mass-distribution system of coal needed railways and electricity. Miike Coal Railway linked pit to port, and helped facilitate quick, constant movement of bulk amounts of coal. (photo by @kyushu.ambassador)
Location: 10 minute drive from JR Aarao Station, or 1 min walk from Mandako mae bus stop
Like Miyanohara, Manda Pit's red brick buildings are a beautiful stand out feature. In 1910, Manda Pit boasted the technical culmination of imported British steam-pumping, winding, and ventilation machinery. (photo by @kumamoto_to_the_world)
Location: 10 minute drive from JR Arao Station, or 1 min walk from Mandako-mae bus stop
Miike Port was built as a modern electrified coal export for the Mine. Its hummingbird design incorporated a long jetty to keep the channel free of sediment from the shallow Ariake Sea. It featured a large outer harbour and inner basin, with hydraulic lock gates that maintained the water level for the large ships, helping them to be mechanically loaded no matter the tide. (photo by @omutaboy1961 )
Location: 10 minute drive from Omuta Station
I've been so fortunate to have been invited to visit this incredible city on a few occasions, and it amazes me every time!
I'm a big history nerd, so I'm always keen to visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites around the globe. I've really enjoyed learning about the history of Omuta city, how it came to be and how it survives today. It's great fun exploring the mines, and the unique cultural elements of the city are worth a visit on their own (Bonus: the World Heritage sites are also a fantastic place for cool photos!).
With so much to see and do in Omuta, it’s certainly a city you don’t want to miss!