Industrial heritage that once supported the development of modern Japan
Coal supported Japan's industrial revolution and was the source of energy for the foundation of modern Japan. The Miike coal mine complex, which was located on the boarder of Arao City and neighboring Omuta City, Fukuoka, was very productive and prosperous. The centerpiece of the complex was the Manda coal mine and its two vertical shafts that were some of the largest of their kind in Japan and built using all the latest techniques available in the Meiji era. The two shafts were constructed between the end of the 1800s and the early 1900s and were fully equipped with the necessary machinery and equipment. Production at the mine peaked in the early 1900s as it supported the development of industry in Japan.
A double arch stone bridge constructed in the Edo period
An important historical landmark of academic significance
Iwamoto Bridge is a rare stone bridge that was constructed around 150 years ago by layering two layers of stones cut from Aso tuff rock. During the Edo period, the bridge was built over a river near the domain border along the road that connected the Higo (present day Kumamoto) and Chikugo (present day Fukuoka) regions. It is said that the bridge was built by Kangoro Hashimoto of Kumamoto who is known for building a number of bridges in Tokyo and Kumamoto including Nijubashi in the Imperial Palace.
Shodai-ware is a designated traditional craft of Japan
Easy-to-handle clay, even for beginners
Shodai-ware, which has been made in Arao for over 400 years, is made of high quality clay quarried from the foot of Mt, Shodai, located east of the city. In addition to its artistic qualities that has it designated as a traditional Kumamoto craft, the simplicity of Shodai-ware accentuates flowers or food making it popular for everyday use.
Easy-to-handle clay, even for beginners
The clay used for Shodai-ware is high in plasticity and is easy to handle, even for beginners. Visitors can make their own Shodai-ware pottery at the Shodai Craft Center or other private pottery workshops in Arao. The wonderful thing about pottery is that even if when using the same glaze on the same pottery the results are never identical. A pottery making experience using clay from Arao is sure to be a special memory of your trip.
Tel: 0968-68-7400 Closed: Mondays Pottery Making: Booking is essential
The dreams that traveled across the seas
- men who pursued their dreams in Asia
The Miyazaki brothers supported revolutionists
who shared the same dreams.
When the Meiji restoration took place and Japan was finally taking its first steps towards modernization, there were men in Arao who devoted their lives to accomplishing a goal beyond the confines of Japan; the liberation of Asia from the world powers and a democratic rights movement. These men were the Miyazaki brothers—Hachiro, Tamizo, Yazo and Toten Miyazaki. Toten Miyazaki, in particular, believed that the liberation of China from the Qing Dynasty, who had failed to act against world power colonization, would directly lead to the development of countries throughout Asia, including Japan, and is known for his life-long support for the Chinese revolutionist, Sun Yatsen. With support of others, including Toten Miyazaki, Sun Yatsen successfully started the Chinese revolution, which helped establish the republic, and he has come to be known as the father of the Chinese revolution.
See traces of the Miyazaki brothers at their birthplace, still preserved today
The philosophy of Toten Miyazaki, a revolutionist in Japan and China, was heavily influenced by his three brothers, Hachiro, Tamizo, and Yazo. The birthplace of the brothers still stands in Arao City today and has been well preserved.
Visitors are able to view the simple yet distinguished traditional Japanese house with thatched roof, earthen floor kitchen, spacious veranda-like porch, tranquil traditional rooms and a garden where plants from the brothers' childhood still remain.At Miyazaki Brothers Museum, located on the same site, visitors can view a wide variety of items on display and see traces of the Miyazaki Brothers; men who were ambitious yet remained true to the Samurai spirit during the turbulent times of Japan's modernization.
949-1 Arao, Arao City Kumamoto Tel: 0968-63-2595
9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (museum entrance must be before 4:30 p.m.)
Mondays (when Monday is a public holiday the museum will be closed the following day)
Primary and junior high school students: 100yen per student (groups of 20 or more, 80yen per student)
Adults (high school students and older): 210yen per adult (groups of 20 or more, 160yen per adult).
See the spirit of the samurai through traditional sword forging
The vigorous traditional tatara iron smelting method
Japanese swords are not only examples of traditional craftsmanship, but are charged with the spirit of the samurai.
The sword forge of master swordsmith Genrokuro Matsunaga, who lives in Arao City, offers visitors the chance to see sword forging in action.It takes about approximately two weeks to forge a Japanese sword. The process begins with heating iron sand, collected by Mr. Matsunaga himself, to 1,400℃ to remove impurities from the iron sand and form a ball of pure iron (known as tamahagane). The sword is then forged using the traditional tatara iron smelting method where the iron is repeatedly struck, stretched, and folded.
Visitors can make their own inscriptions and view the sword collection
Mr. Matsunaga is a master swordsmith who has made over 1,000 swords over a period of 30 years, and his vigorous forging technique clearly displays the spirit of the samurai. In addition to sword forging viewing, visitors can inscribe their name or a favorite phrase on pieces of iron using a cold chisel. Write your favorite phrase in Japanese hiragana or kanji; it will make a perfect memento of your trip to Arao. Visitors can also view Mr. Matsunaga's collection of swords and armor.
1907-8 Kawanobori, Arao City Kumamoto Tel: 0968-68-2250 Fax: 0968-68-1898
*Please note that booking in advance is essential. Please contact the above for more details.
A shrine with a proud history spanning 1,000 years
The shrine was first erected in the year 1070 at the site believed to be where Kokuzo Bosatsu descended. Later the shrine was rebuilt in the early 1600s by the then lord of the Higo Domain, Kiyomasa Kato. Located within the shrine grounds is Yotsuyama Tomb, known for being the location of Kokuzo Bosatsu's legendary descent. At the grand festivals held twice a year in spring and autumn, visitors can still see the unusual custom known as "Fuku sazuke," where the worshipers borrow five yen and return it in double the following year.
"Nobara-san," an important part of the local resident's lives
Nobara Hachimangu, in a sign of intimacy, is known by locals as "Nobara-san" and has a long history. A ritual known as "Furyu-gaku," which has been orally passed down the generations for more than 1,700 years, is performed at the shrine in October each year and is now designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Kumamoto.
The temple is believed to give protection to those traveling by road as well as protection from disasters.
Ariake Naritasan Taisyouji-temple operates under the control of Naritasan Shinsyouji-temple of Narita City, Chiba and enshrines Fudomyoo. The temple is known as a place to pray for road safety and for protection from disasters.