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Introducing Obi

In this quaint town nicknamed 'Little Kyoto', the wealthy Ito clan ruled from Obi castle for 14 generations beginning in 1587, somehow surviving the 'one kingdom, one castle' ruling in 1615.

Only the walls of the original Obi-jō are intact, but the grounds have six important buildings, including the impressive, painstakingly reconstructed Ōte-mon gate and Matsuo-no-maru, the lord's private residence. The museum has a collection relating to the Itō clan's long rule over Obi. Yōshōkan, formerly the residence of the clan's chief retainer, stands just outside the castle entrance and has a large garden with Mt Atago (Atago-san) as 'borrowed scenery'.

Once you've seen these sights, rent bikes (¥300 for three hours) to explore the rest of the town, with some photogenic streetscapes, shrines and a historic shopping street; your admission ticket has a simple map.

By the castle, Obiten serves a local version of Satsuma-age (fried cakes of fish paste and vegetables, here called tempura). The signature Obiten with udon is ¥850.

The JR Nichinan line connects Obi with Miyazaki (kaisoku; ¥910, 65 minutes) via Aoshima. From Obi Station, it's a 10-minute walk to the castle. Buses from Miyazaki (¥2020, 2¼ hours, last return bus 3.40pm) stop below the castle entrance.