Hita (日田市 Hita-shi?) is a small town of about 75,000 people in the west of Oita Prefecture, with the estimated population of central Hita at only 5000 people. It's actually closer to Fukuoka than Oita, the prefectural capital.
Hita is generally regarded as a nice town to be placed in. It's large enough to have lots of restaurants, bars and so that not everyone will know you, while still being small enough to have a countryside feel. It's also well served by transport links so when you want to escape somewhere bigger, you can.
To/from the airportEdit
Fukuoka Airport is far more convenient that Oita Aiport due to its proximity. Highway buses travel between Hita and Fukuoka Aiport's domestic terminals approximately every 30mins or so. The journey takes about 80 minutes and costs ¥1750. Be careful when leaving from Hita that you get on a service that stops at the airport and not the non-stop service that goes straight to Tenjin.
Although Hita does have a station, the train is not as convenient as the bus, being more expensive, irregular and less frequent. Services run east to Yufuin (74min, ¥1080) and Oita (130min, ¥2070), and west to Kurume (75min, ¥1080).
Highway buses to Fukuoka (both Tenjin and Hakata) leave approximately every 20 minutes from Hita Bus Centre (1.5hours, ¥1750, Timetable link). Some buses stop at the airport which adds on about 15 minutes to the journey. You can buy a book of 4 tickets (a Super Joshaken) for ¥5600.
The Oita Expressway has an exit here. Driving northwest it takes about 1 hour to drive to Fukuoka (¥1650). Going east it takes about 1 hour to get to Beppu (¥2000) and about 1 hour 20 minutes to get all the way to Oita (¥2350).
Hita is small enough to get around on by bike alone and you should never really need to use the local buses. A car is useful to get out of town on the weekends but not essential. The ES and JHS ALTs have to drive to some out-of-town schools.
As of 2013/2014, Hita is home to six ALTs and one CIR. Four of them work as one-shots in Elementary and Junior High Schools (employed by the municipal Board of Education) and two work as base-school ALTs in Senior High Schools. See below for a description of duties.
Municipal (City Hall) ALTsEdit
As of 2013/2014 there are four City Hall ALTs that share a pool of 40 Elementary and Junior High Schools. ALTs start their day at the Board of Education (BOE), transition to their assigned school for classes, and then return to the BOE by the end of the work day. Work hours are from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.
At the beginning of each semester the school supervisor will create a schedule. BOE ALTs may have anywhere from 6 to 12 primary/secondary schools depending on the area and demand of the schools. Some schools are as large as 700 students or as small as 3 (total!). The average class size is around 20 students. For the in-town schools you can either walk or cycle, and for the out-of-town schools there are 3 ALT cars set aside for use at the BOE. The office will pay for all fuel/transport.
Prefectural High School (Kencho) ALTsEdit
Oita Prefecture currently employs two High School ALTs in Hita. One ALT is responsible for Hita High (日田高) and Hita Rinko (日田林工高) . The other ALT is responsible for Hita Mikumako (日田三隈高) . Work hours vary by school and demand. As of 2010 there is no longer a Toin High School ALT.
Times when you will need a full suit:
- On the first formal day at school because you'll need to do a small self-introduction to your colleagues in the staff room, and the students in the assembly hall - usually in Japanese.
- Formal ceremonies such as the drinking parties (enkais), graduations etc
Note: your first formal day at school will likely be a couple weeks to a month after your arrival as you will be arriving during summer break.
Weather Expectations & PackingEdit
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- Summer (June/July/August) is very hot & humid in Summer (most days in excess of 30 degrees)
- September & October is Typhoon season - whilst on most occasions, the winds barely muster beyond gale force, it is foolhardy to try and go out during a typhoon as flying debris such as roof tiles pose a hazard. School is usually cancelled in the event of a typhoon.
- Autumn is very picturesque with the changing colour of the leaves. The best place to appreciate this natural phenomenon is on a bike trail (old rail road) in Yamaguni
- Winter is cold (close to zero during the day & sub zero at night)
- Spring - the first two weeks of April is cherry blossom viewing [花見] season.
You will need to factor both extremes in your packing. Alternatively you can pack lightly and buy most of your clothes here:
- There is a chain store "Uniqlo" that sell fashionable but cheap casual & smart casual attire;
- there are many large suit stores that sell cheap suits (near KFC / Best Denki - less than 10 minutes by bike, 20 minutes on foot from the apartment).
- Hita is a small town, so if you miss the big smoke, Fukuoka (arguably the best city in Japan) is only a 1.5 hr bus ride away.
- Kurume, a bigger town with better cinemas is only approx 20min train ride away.
- Within Hita there is a very lively ALT community.
- If you are part of a club (such as aikido), they have their social events.
Places to visitEdit
- Gion Festival Centre, Kuma-2-chome (隈2-丁目) 7-10, +81-973-24-6453. 9AM-5PM, closed Wednesday. This small museum details the history and activities surrounding Hita's annual summer Gion festival, exhibiting six full sized floats. ¥310 entry
- Bamboo Fish Traps, Takedashin-machi (竹田新町) (next to the Mikuma river), +81-973-24-0420. End of July to the beginning of November, 10AM-9PM (10AM-5PM from mid-September). Bamboo fish traps (鮎簗 ayuyana) are erected in the Mikuma river in late summer. Hapless sweetfish (鮎 ayu) are captured, covered in salt and grilled and can be enjoyed with a cool beer, looking out on the river.
- Sapporo Beer Factory, Takase (高瀬) 6979, +81-973-25-110 (firstname.lastname@example.org) . Open weekdays 9:45AM-5:15PM (closed Wednesdays) and public holidays 8:45AM-5:30PM. A must-visit attraction for fans of Japanese beer. Located on a hill offering great views of the city, the factory offers visitors a free guided tour of the facilities followed by a 20 minute free drinking session. Reservations advisable.
- Onta Pottery Village (小鹿田焼村). A small mountain village based around production of distinctive Onta-yaki style pottery. The pottery is still made via the traditional method, introduced to the area by Korean potters in the 16th Century. Water driven, see-saw pounders grind down the local clay for moulding into plates, pots, cups and other ceramics. The sound of the see-saws and running water combined with the scenic mountainside create a tranquil atmosphere.
- Amagase Spa Town, Amagase-machi (天ヶ瀬町). A popular hot-spring resort town about 30 minutes drive from Hita. There are many different types of hot spring overlooking the Mikuma river. These even include a rose petal bath!
- Hina Dolls Festival (February/March): During the national Doll's Festival the museums and old houses of Mameda-machi and Kuma-machi open their doors to the public and display their collection of dolls.
- Cherry Blossom Festival (First Sunday in April): Kizan Park hosts Hita's Cherry Blossom-viewing (hanami) event, where people can enjoy a stroll by the river and a drink under the blossom.
- River Opening Festival (First weekend after May 20th): A two-day firework display that launches more than 10,000 fireworks over the Mikuma river. If you book well in advance you can watch the display from a river boat!
- Gion Festival (First Sunday after July 20th): Huge wooden floats (up to 12m high) from different areas of the city are pushed around the streets by volunteers. Foreigners have been known to be invited.
- Tenryo Festival (Third weekend in October): This festival celebrates Hita's Edo period, when the city (then called Tenryo) was the capital of Kyushu. The highlight is a procession of 200 people through the city in full Edo-period costume.
Hita is blessed with a wide variety of shops. The only things you can't find are imported products like food, but a trip to Cosco in Fukuoka every once in a while can remedy that.
Hita's speciality products include wooden clogs called geta and stylised pottery from nearby Onta village. These types of gifts can be found in shops around Mameda-machi which cater to tourists.
- Sunny (サニー), (100m east of the expressway entrance), 0973-23-3223, . Open 24hrs everyday. New and very large supermarket with good veg and fruit. Downside is that it doesn't sell alcohol, but there is a sake shop right outside.
- Daiei (ダイエー), Minamimoto-machi, (100m east of the station), 0973-24-6131, . 10AM-10PM everyday. A small but good supermarket right in the centre of town. Clothes sold on the second floor. At the start of each month they have a sale (一の市) which has good discounts. It's the only time I ever buy meat!
- Trial (トライアル), Kitatomoda, (6km out of town on the 386), 0973-25-6355, . Open 24hrs. Amazing supermarket and general store, selling almost everything. The food is the cheapest you will find in Hita, as are the interesting Engrish T-shirts, fresh off the boat from China.
- A-Price (A-プライス), Taketashin-machi, 0973-24-4035, . Open 9.30AM-6.30PM. This is a small supermarket catering to restaurants but has a few imported products like taco sauce, spices and decent sized pasta.
Home & Garden storesEdit
- Nafco (ナフコ), Ueno-machi, (south of the river on the 210), 0973-22-2141, . 8AM-8PM everyday. Big home and hardware store. Useful place to visit when you're just moving in. Small garden section too.
- Ohara-ya (大原屋), Tashima-2-chome, (50m east of the city hall), 0973-22-3661, . Open 10.30AM-8.00PM Tuesday-Saturday. A very small street-corner restaurant which is run by husband and wife Luchi and Eriko. Luchi is a bit of a world traveller and speaks good English. Try their fried chicken (空揚げ kara-age), as well as their curry.
- Ichijiku (いちじく), Nakadzuru-machi, (Coming from the station, 1st left after Oita bank, down a few streets and on the right), 0973-23-6766, This small restaurant run by one of the friendliest old ladies in the world serves up amazing okonomiyaki. Very foreigner friendly - they even have an English menu!
- Sofuren (想夫恋), Wakamiya-machi, (On the 210, near Wakamiya Elementary School), 0973-24-3188, . Chain yakisoba restaurant. Ramen also available but yakisoba is the speciality dish. The perfect way to recover from a hangover.
- Punon Pen Ramen (name taken from the Cambodian city 'Phnom Penh') (プノンペンラメン), Chuuo-icho-me, (about 30 metres west of Hita train station.), Tue-Sun Open for lunch time & dinner until 21:30. Usually closed during 15:00-16:00. Ramen restaurant. In addition to ramen, serves a wide range of dishes including Okinawan specialities such as Okinawan ramen & Goya. Main dish is Punon Pen Ramen which is a non-conventional ramen with a tomato & celery base.
- Sushi-ro (スシロー), n/a, (On the intersection with Del Sol, Lawson, and Futata.), idk. Best kaiten sushi restuaruant in town.
- Yama midori (Green Mountain) (やまみどり), n/a, (Across the street from the Board of Education building), Sometimes after 11am.. Good izakaya. Great fried and tempura'd chicken.
- that udon place near mameda, n/a, (Near Mameda, across the Kagetsu-gawa.), idk. Best udon we have found so far.
- Ajito, Moto-machi, (opposite Daiei supermarket), 0973-24-2880, The ALT haunt and one of the best izakaya in Hita. Takaki the foreigner-friendly owner is a great cook. Bibimba (Korean spicy rice, vegetables and egg) and the Goro-Goro salad are highly recommended.
- Xi Sports Bar, Chuo-2-chome, (near the central Lawson), 0973-24-5331, . One of the only real "bars" in Hita. The cocktail waiters can often be seen practising their bottle throws in the local park. If you book ahead, they will put on an impressive cocktail mixing show for you!
- Oita Bank (大分銀行日田市店), 〒877-0016 日田市三本松１丁目１番２号, (2-3 blocks west from the train station.), 0973-23-2101, . Main office: M-F 9:00〜15:00. ATM only:(M-F) 8:45〜20:00, (Sat) 8:45〜17:00,（Sun&Hol）9:00〜17:00. The central Oita bank is the largest in Hita. Best to avoid going just after lunch because the queue can get very long.
- Fukuoka bank (福岡銀行), Chuuo-icho-me, (100m west of Hita train station), . Office Mon-Fri 9:00-15:00; ATM Mon-Fri 08:00-18:00 Weekends/Public Holidays 09:00-17:00. Fukuoka bank is the biggest bank on Kyuushuu island.
- Hita Shinyo Ginko (日田信用金庫), 〒877-0047 大分県日田市中本町３−２０, (Leaving directly from the station south into Kuma-machi, about 4 blocks from the river.), +81 973-23-3177, [hitashinkin.co.jp]. 9:00～17:30. Description here
- Tashima Honmachi Branch of Japan Post (田島本町郵便局), Tasima Honmachi [田島本町], (about 100m north of the city hall (heading in the direction of Showa school / Tsutaya CD store)), Provides general postage & banking services, sells collectable stamps, and has an ATM. However package collections are usually done at the Central Post Office (id such as an alien registration card will need to be provided).
- Hita Tourist (日田ツーリスト), Tashimahon-machi, (100m west of the city hall), 0973-22-4891, Small but convenient travel agent. Ask for Yoko-san who speaks good English.