Chofu is a small castle town of the Mori Clan just east of central Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
It's not large and can be pleasantly explored on foot by following the free guide map available at the tourist office in the centre of town on Route 9.
There are many Edo-period buildings behind the high earthen walls that line the streets and along the picturesque small river that is populated by many ducks and carp.
Some of the samurai residences are open to the public as is the Chofu Mori residence, the mansion of the last Lord of the Chofu Domain. Not completed until 1903, but it has two nice gardens.
Kazan-ji Temple (Tel: 0832 45 0258) was built in 1321, though much restoration was carried out in the 17th Century. The main building, the Butsu-den, is original and is designated a National Treasure.
In the centre of the town is Iminomiya Shrine. August 7th to 13th is the best time to visit the shrine, during the Suhouteisai Festival. During the day the area in front of the shrine is populated with dozens of Giant Bamboo poles up to 30 metres in height from which flutter long blue and red flags. At night in the light of bonfires and to the accompaniment of drumming, men of the town lift the poles, weighing up to 100 kilos, and carry them in a circle around a sacred stone. The festival honors the mythical Emperor Chuhai and Empress Jingu.
On the western edge of Chofu, next door to the Shimonoseki Municipal Museum (Tel: 0832 45 4131) is Chofu Garden. Incorporating almost every style and type of Japanese garden, at only 200 yen, entrance is good value for money.
Chofu is reached via JR Chofu station or by local bus from central Shimonoseki.
Shimonoseki Tourist Offices:
JR Shimonoseki Station (Tel: 0832 32 8383)
JR Shin-Shimonoseki Station (Tel: 0832 56 3422)
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Friday, December 21, 2007