Kyushu, as mentioned in our previous article, is one of the most beautiful prefectures in Japan. With hundreds of miles of rolling hills and glorious green countryside; having a visit to this prefecture on your Japan visit itinerary is very worthwhile.
Japan has some of the most safe and modern roads in the world. The roads in Kyushu are amongst some of the most fun to drive. One such journey to take is a trip from Takachiho, in the Miyazaki prefecture, to the North East of Kyushu; Oita-ken. The Oita prefecture is famous for its onsens. Japan is a very seismically active country and Kyushu is particularly volcanic, this therefore makes for some of the most glorious hot springs in the country.
In Takachiho, one of the spots well worth visiting is the Takachiho Shrine. There are not many hotels in the local area, but from the central town to the shrine takes only five minutes and the roads in the area are quiet and fun to navigate. A short walk will also take you to the Takachiho Gorge, which is amongst the most beautiful spots to visit in the entire country. Not often visited by tourists because of the location, with a car this is achievable. The Gorge has an area where you will be able to hire a boat and sail alongside the river and has some of the most excellent photo opportunities.
From there, a trip to Amano Iwato Shrine (882-1621; telephone: 0982-74-8239) takes approximately 15 minutes.
From Takachiho, you can visit Oita in approximately three hours. The roads – despite not being highways – are a joy to drive. Once you drive into Oita, the first port of call would be visiting The Hells (874-000); a selection of hot springs in different shapes, colours and varieties. Beppu itself is a city, so expect the roads to be busy and be on the look out for road signs, if you get lost and off the main streets in the city centre, expect a tricky trip to where you need to be.
One trip worth taking is just outside of Beppu, in another hot spring resort called Yufuin. Yufuin is less touristy, so the hotels are a little cheaper and better quality. A trip from Beppu to Yufuin only takes 10 minutes. With a car this is highly recommended.
At Yufuin, enjoy driving up and down the main street in the town. This is a traditional Japanese village and the shops and architecture are designed in a style of that era. Finally, take a quick stop off at Kinrinko. The lake is famous for its morning mist, but this can only be seen prior to 11am.