Hagi and Tsuwano: Two Castle Towns *RERUN
Hagi and Tsuwano became famous as destinations to visit together when traveling to rediscover traditional Japan became popular. The town of Hagi lies in a delta at the extreme western end of Japan's largest island of Honshu. The town of Tsuwano, just over the mountains from Hagi, lies in a basin surrounded by the Chugoku Mountains. Long ago, both towns were in the same feudal domain. Hagi and Tsuwano are two castle towns charming travelers with their history and beauty.

Hagi: A Castle Town in a Delta

Fifty kilometers west across the Chugoku Mountains from Tsuwano is the beautiful town of Hagi, which lies on the coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture. The symbol of the town is Mount Shizuki, once the site of the town's castle. The town beside the castle, which is sandwiched between two rivers, was built on a triangular parcel of land that was previously a marsh full of reeds. Citrus fruits grow alongside the white walls of the castle town. Their sweet, yet tart fragrance adds to the atmosphere of the old capital.

Tsuwano: A Waterside Town

Tsuwano is famous for its waterways and their resident carp. Water is carried into the town by 12 waterways large and small from the Tsuwano River. Tsuwano sits in a basin and the terrain channels mountain winds through the town. Should a fire break out, it would spread extremely quickly. One fire resulted in the loss of 90% of the town and the water channel network was constructed to prevent huge fires from ever spreading again. The waterways are now filled with carp, and they have become a symbol of the town.

Uzume Meshi: Rice with Hidden Wasabi

Japanese horseradish, or wasabi, is an indispensable condiment used in Japanese cooking. The wasabi is a blessing from a mountain valley, which is ruled by the forces of nature. The pure water in the water channels of Tsuwano comes from mountains rising in the east and west. The wasabi fields are towards the top of the mountain. In samurai times wasabi was banned as a luxury item. Local people started hiding it at the bottom of their rice bowls. Banning wasabi only made people want it more. Wasabi stimulates both the taste buds and the spirit.