Hita is a modest, unassuming rural city in the center of Kyushu. During the majority of the year it is fairly unremarkable. Yet during the spring and summer months, the city’s many festivals attract tourists from throughout Japan as well as the rest of Asia. One of the city’s most spectacular events is the River Opening Festival, during which more than 10,000 fireworks are shot over the city’s main river.
From Fukuoka City:
Direct buses depart from Tenjin and Hakata Bus Terminals every half hour. Some of the buses also pick up passengers from Fukuoka Airport’s domestic terminal. The ride costs 1750 yen and lasts around 90 minutes.
From Oita City:
Travelers from Oita City or Beppu can catch a direct bus approximately every 1-2 hours. The buses take passengers to the Hita City highway bus stop, which is located a few kilometers from the center of town. Alternatively, the Kyudai Main Line from Oita Station offers a more central connection, taking passengers to the JR Hita Train Station located in the center of town.
The Oita Expressway connects Hita to Fukuoka as well as Beppu, both about an hour away. It is a toll road, so expect to pay between 1600-2400 yen depending on the distance traveled.
Celebrating the Festival
The River Opening Festival takes place the first weekend after May 20th, filling the streets and igniting the sky above the Mikuma River for two nights. As Kyushu’s largest fireworks display, it attracts tourists from all over the island. It is also known as the Hanabi Taikai, Japanese for “fireworks competition.” Each year over two dozen businesses and public organizations present their own customized fireworks display, playfully attempting to outdo the others.
Spectators crowd both banks of the river each night. Some set out tarps hours ahead of time to reserve the best spots. The celebration resembles a mixture of a picnic and a party underneath the thunderous bursts of light. Many also reserve places on the dinner boats for a luxurious evening on the river. Additionally, private companies rent out kayaks for the evening, allowing individuals to row out to the center of the river until they are almost underneath the explosions.
During the daytime, the main street leading perpendicularly from the train station is overrun with stalls selling juicy yakiniku (fried meat), cotton candy, and other treats all the way down its length until the river. In addition to food, there are stalls with games, such as kingyo-sukui (a traditional Japanese game of catching goldfish). Schools and local clubs put on street performances, having trained their routines for weeks if not months.
Where to Eat
If the vast array of street food is not enough to satisfy your hunger, there are extensive dining options as well as kid friendly attractions in front of
, a convention hall located on 1 Chome-8-11 Sanbonmatsu.
Those in the mood for charming restaurant options can additionally try one of the following:
(Japanese-World Fusion) - 2 Chome-5-15 Tashima
(Udon) - 1 Chome-7-8 Maruyama
Where to Stay
Though Hita is normally a quiet residential city, during festivals the hotels in the city fill up quickly. Therefore it is advisable to book accommodations earlier if possible.
- Mikuma Hotel : Kuma 1-3-19
- Hina-no-Sato Sanyokan : Kuma 1-3-8
- Ryokan with Onsen: Kotohira Onsen Kayausagi - 1529-1, Kotohira-machi
- Sanso Tensui : 601 Amagase-machi, Sakuradake
- Hotel Socia : Motomachi 17-3
- Kizantei Hotel : Kuma 1-3-10