Student Blog

Shimonoseki: A Getaway near Beppu

4 min read

Hello everyone, How are you spending your spring break? I am Lisa from Nepal.

In November 2023, four fourth year students of APU including myself were taken on a tour to Shimonoseki, a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the westernmost tip of Japan's largest island, Honshu. Just under two hours on train from Beppu is this city surrounded by water on three sides. Famously known for its seafood, the most famous being pufferfish, or fuku as it is locally known. This tour was organized by a collaboration between APU and JAL (Japan Airlines). After we reached Shimonoseki in the morning, we participated in a monitoring tour around Shimonoseki with a JAL staff. We were shown and given the opportunity to experience different activities that one can do around Shimonoseki. Through this article I want the students in APU to know a place that is close to Beppu where they can go and explore for a little break from study! It is a city filled with new experiences one can indulge in as well as a great place to explore and learn about Japan’s history.

the former British Consulate Building

As we ventured on the tour of Shimonoseki, the first stop was the former British Consulate Building. It was surprising to see a European style building there. Built in 1906, it is Japan’s oldest consulate building. The desks and chairs which were actually used by the consulate are exhibited inside. It is designated as cultural property of Japan. After exploring the British Consulate Building, we went near the ocean to see the view. We saw the Kanmon Bridge which is one of the major attractions in Shimonoseki. The suspension bridge has a length of 1068 meters and six car lanes, connecting Honshu to Kyushu across the strait.

Making Nerikiri

After that we went to a place in Fuwari where we got to experience making a Japanese traditional sweet; Nerikiri. The confectionery shop is called Shokindo, a long-established Japanese confectionery that has been shop passed down for 156 years. There are many types of Nerikiri made in different styles and forms with different fillings inside. We were given the option to choose our own filling as well as the outer part of the Nerikiri. It has fillings like Shiro-an, which means white bean paste and sweet glutinous rice flour, Anko etc. After choosing the filling and the outer cover, we followed the instructor and made our own Nerikiri. It was a very unique technique of making it. And the end result was absolutely beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making Nerikiri.

Process of making Nerikiri , on the right is the Nerikiri I made with matcha tea

Next, I experienced dressing up in a bright red noblewoman's kimono at a costume rental shop called "Rental Costume CHIKAGE" Here, you can also experience costumes of famous warriors (Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki) associated with Shimonoseki. The shop was near Akama shrine. We walked to Akama Shrine in our kimono to explore. Akama shrine is dedicated to emperor Antoku, who drowned after his defeat in the Genpei War, a battle that divided Japan in half around 830 years ago. The shrine was also bright red in color matching our kimonos.

Wearing traditional Japanese Kimono

Later at night, we experienced eating blowfish which is what Shimonoseki is famous for, in a long-established restaurant with a history of over 70 years, Fuku Ryoan. Not only did we get to eat and enjoy artistic dishes such as Botanmori for the first time, we also got to learn from the landlady how to perform the Jolo Dochu, which is held at the Emperor’s festival to commemorate Emperor Antoku, who drowned in the last battle of the Genpei era. We got to wear an uchikake costume and experience the Sotohachimonji and other performances. The shoes worn for this ancient traditional festival has around 15cm heel which makes it extraordinary and hard to walk for someone with no experience. We all tried our best to copy the moves taught by the land lady, but it was extremely difficult. However, it was an amazing experience overall.

Blowfish dish

Finally, the last activity we did on this trip was to experience how sake is made in Shimonoseki Sake Brewery. We got the opportunity to tour a sake brewery with a history of about 100 years, guided by a sake master. We also did a sake blend tasting and tried to recognize the different variations of sake like fruity, sweet, rich etc. One exclusive thing we did at the end of the sake tour was make our own unique blend of sake making it “the only sake in the world”. We chose four of our favorite blends and put in a ratio for the sake master to prepare for it. Then after they filled it in their signature’s sake bottle, they put our name in the bottle as well making it truly exclusive and gave it to us as an omiyage.

(Left) Sake brewery tour, (Middle) Sake tasting, (Right) Personalized sake made by me

Overall, this monitoring tour of Shimonoseki made me realize that one can truly experience a different side of Japan by indulging in the rich history and unique culture of Japan by visiting a city close to Beppu, Shimonoseki. It can be a great day trip too for people who want to take a break from their busy life and experience so many attractions that Shimonoseki offers. Finally, I would like to thank APU and JAL, for providing us with this opportunity to visit Shimonoseki and learn so much more about Japan.


Hi, I'm Lisa from Nepal. I am a 4th year student in the spring semester in 2023. I like reading novels, arts, DIY, traveling, and experiencing new things. I am looking forward to learning valuable insights from my time in SPA.

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