9 Days of Rustic Kyushu, Day 6: Mameda-machi

Monday, 1 May 2017

In Japan, there are several places with the nickname of "Little Kyoto" simply because they convey the rustic charms of Kyoto. Mameda-machi is simply another one in Hita, a shopping street where the locals have tried their best to preserve old-world Japanese customs and architecture.
According to some Japanese websites, some of the wares sold here are also unique to the area. A decent pit-stop really if you are passing by the area.

Day 6: Mameda-machi (日田豆田町商店街) --> Beppu Hell Valley --> Yufuin Town --> Hotel
By day 6, we started moving towards Oita. Our first stop that morning was the famous shopping street of Mameda-machi. Except we probably got there a little too early. Many of the shops weren't even open yet!
So if Mameda-machi is a place you intend to visit, please make arrangements to get there after 11 am. The place felt so deserted at 9:30 am, we were done by 10 plus and decided to leave since there wasn't anything else open. A real pity since I had actually read so much about it online that it was a shopping street that I was looking forward to!

I had originally scheduled it later in the itinerary but because of some changes made, it was re-scheduled to this morning. That kind of irritated me since it obviously showed that our guide didn't do much to advise us.

However, if in the event that you happen to also be there at 9:30 am, you can pop into the Kuncho Sake Brewery and take a look at how local sake is brewed. The spring waters of Mameda-machi is also pretty famous and the brewery prides its good brew on the use of the spring waters.

Sadly, my parents aren't sake drinkers so the beauty of the brewery was kind of lost on them. After a moment's consideration, I also decided not to buy any. We were running short on luggage space because my dad was being stubborn and had refused to bring his big luggage. He definitely heard from me and mom when we realised we were running out of space and had to budget our shopping.

Plus, my mom was also complaining that our liquor store at home was over-flowing.
Heh. She's always lamenting how she doesn't really understand how her children become drinkers when their parents both hardly do so.

Anyway, I digress.
At Mameda-machi, you should also look out for this little wooden shack where you can refill your water bottles with their famous spring water. All for a token sum that's up to you.
Mom was worried that it would give us tummy upset (typical worried mom's reaction) but I went ahead and had a taste of the water.

Oh by the way, apart from the Kuncho Sake Brewery, you should also make a visit to Hita Shoyu. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the place, but to be honest, it's really hard to miss that place. Hita Shoyu is the other famous store in Mameda-machi.  It was serious disappointment that it was only opening as we were leaving so I didn't have a chance to go in. Otherwise I would have loved to bring back a bottle of Japanese soy sauce!

We also stopped by this place (photo above) that was selling traditional Japanese sweets. Whenever I have a chance during my Japan trips, I'd love to visit at least one of these traditional sweet shops. Each region/place usually has their own unique sweets and sometimes even seasonal specialities.
A word of caution though. Don't over-buy as these traditional sweets tend to be (ahem) very sweet. 
The first time I had these traditional sweets years back was a memorable culinary disaster. Primarily because I had over-bought. Basically I thought to get one in every flavour to try. It was major sugar overdose and we just couldn't finish them. Since then, my parents and I just get 2 to 3 different flavours to try.


Mameda-machi is also pretty famous for their Hina dolls. If I'm not mistaken, there's a Hina Doll festival running if you were to visit in March.
These Hina dolls are actually a tradition and not for play. The dolls are often arranged in tiers with the prince and the princess dolls right at the top. These dolls are said to possess special spiritual powers. Should a doll become broken, they are not to be simply discarded away. Instead, a ritual is needed to dispose of the doll.
So, when you're there, please be mindful and respectful. It's best to just visually admire these Hina doll displays and not meddle with them thinking that these are toys.

We also dropped by this craft store that was open at that time. A lot of very well-crafted fabric dolls for sale. Some were downright adorable and would have looked good if I had display shelves at home!
Tourist Information
Address: Mamedamachi, Hita 〒877-0005, Oita Prefecture
Local Address: 〒877-0005豆田町

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