Tag Archives: yufuin

image4

Beppu, Yufuin and Oita

Having previously visited Oita Prefecture a couple of years ago and really enjoying myself; I decided that the time was right to re-visit Oita, taking a familiar route but stopping off at some new places along the way.

After flying in from Kita-Kyushu and having good intentions to visit the Fujien Kawachi Wisteria Gardens (which wasn’t open in late April 2017 for good reason, the Wisteria wasn’t even in bloom yet) we decided to take a slightly different route and head to the Kunisaki Peninsula instead. The roads in northern Kyushu, much like the rest of Kyushu, are excellent for driving. Clean, safe and relatively quiet during the April season.

The first port of call on our trip traveling from Kita-kyushu airport was to the Usa-Jingu shrine in Oita, Usi; this stunning little complex of beautiful shrines and buildings is a must do in the area. Prepare to drive for at least 2 hours to reach the Kunisaki Peninsula. Once at Usa-Jingu – which is the main shrine for hachimangu jingu in Japan – you will find some wonderful scenery for strolling around. You should allocate at least an hour of your day for visiting this stunning area.

From there, you may choose to visit Makiodo or other areas of the Kunisaki Peninsula – the Rokugo Manzien temples are some of Japan’s most famous – before heading on to your next destination. Our next stop was to the world famous onsen town of Beppu.

Beppu has so much to do and to enjoy. You can find several “hells”, known as Jigoku in Japanese. These are naturally occurring hot springs that are often with different colour water, smells and/or nature surrounding them. Parking is very easy to find in this area, so when driving around Beppu you should find stopping your vehicle relatively simple and cheap.

image5

After enjoying a wonderful meal and evening in Beppu, the following day saw us drive for a wonderful breakfast at Jigokumushi Kōbō Kannawa (Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center), where you will be able to cook your food on the heat of the onsen. A great side trip is a short drive away, to Takasakiyama Monkey Park where you can find hundreds of cheeky monkeys (macaques) on top of their own mountain. A wonderful day out!

image2

A recommended itinerary from there is to drive to the pretty town of Yufuin and set up camp there. You will find it tricky to get around by car around Mount Yufu/Yufuin and so keep this in mind if you are reliant on your vehicle.

image1

After Yufuin, you may choose to head to Oita City, the main city in Oita prefecture. There are plenty of shops and restaurants here.

After Oita City, we decided to stop by Kitsuki town; a delightful little village on the way to Oita Airport. From there you will find many shops and a pretty little castle to explore.

japanroad

From Oita prefecture to Kumamoto prefecture

One of the most beautiful journeys through Japan’s countryside is the trip between Oita prefecture and Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu.

Kyushu has four very distinct seasons, much like most of Japan, but the trip through Kumamoto is arguably at its most beautiful in the summer months as opposed to the winter season, as we discovered on our tricky journeys through Kyushu. The winter can be bitterly cold and with much snow, so be well prepared – and that means if you are to drive through the prefectures, bring chains for your tires and/or request from the hire company that your car will come equipped with them.

The first stop of our trip took us through the south of Kyushu, traveling from Kagoshima into Miyazaki, up north into Oita and visiting Beppu and the other famous onsen of Yufuin.

Another excellent trip that we strongly recommend is our trip from Oita, through the centre of Kyushu into Kumamoto. This takes you a excellent tour through Daikanbo, a giant caldera that sits just outside of Kumamoto city; and through some of the most beautiful Japanese towns in the country, including Kurokawa Onsen, famous for its hot springs as well. Kyushu is famous for its baths, so a trip to any prefecture here should also have visit to onsen on your itinerary.

Starting off from Beppu, one recommended trip on the itinerary is a stop off at Yunohira Hot Spring resort. Yunohira sits on a mountain and amongst its stone pavements includes much history and onsen baths to be enjoyed. One recommended stop is the Nurukawa-onsen ryokan, which contains just 8 rooms but does have excellent onsen water which is said to be famous for healing damaged skin. This famous villeage has several hot springs which can be enjoyed for 200 yen.

From there, a trip to Kokonoe Yume Otsurihashi is well worth a visit.

Yume Footbridge
Yume Footbridge

Yume, which means dream in Japanese, is a stunning footbridge right in the middle of Kyushu. One of the longest foot bridges in the world, your view here will depend much on the weather at the time, so prepare the time of your visit well. In the early morning you are likely to see more.  This suspension bridge is 777 metres long and costs 500 yen for a visit, but you will really enjoy the view of the forest underneath as you head over. Whilst here, make sure you eat the Kokonoe Yume burger, famous to the locals. (Telephone: 0973-73-3800; Address: 879-4911)

As you move swiftly on, consider a visit to the Kongoho-ji temple, a truly magnificent place to stop off on the way into our next stop, one of our favourite places in the whole of Japan.

40 minutes away, the stunning Kurokawa Onsen (Telephone: 0967-44-0036), sits centrally in Kyushu and is a magnificent village full of small shops, restaurants, classy onsens and small roads. A truly magicial tourist show piece of Japan, it is worthwhile to visit here for at least two hours to enjoy everything on offer.

Kurokawa Onsen
Kurokawa Onsen

There are two onsens that we highly recommend here, the first is the famous Yamamizuki, located on one of the small roads just outside the village (be careful here, roads are small); and secondly Hozantei. This is again quite far away from the centre, nearly 3km to be exact, but the water is smooth and the surroundings are magical.

A 40 minute drive will then take you far and high into the mountains (be really careful, you can easily get caught out if your GPRS isn’t up to date and end up driving through the middle of nowhere) and eventually reaching Daikanbo. Our view was heavily restricted due to the snow, but what awaits you at the top of the mountain at Daikanbo Lookout (869-2313, Kumamoto) is one of the stunning views in all of Japan.

It can get cold here...
It can get cold here…

From Aso-san, make sure you have a chance to visit the stunning shrine. This is well worth an hour and is a great example of a beautiful temple.

Aso Shrine
Aso Shrine

A trip of approximately 30 minutes will take you to Komezuka (869-2313, Kumamoto) a 954 volcanic hill in the middle of the caldera. Again, during the summer months, this is best viewed.

From Komezuka, it’s time to head into Kumamoto city, on the west side of Kumamoto-ken. Whilst heading in, stop off at Suizenji Koen. This takes an hour from Komezuka, so leave enough time.  In Japan it is important to at least visit one garden, such is the extravagence and delight of these parks. Suizenji is a great example of a very well kept garden and lies just a short walk away from Shin-Suizenji station.

A five minute drive will then take you to the famous Kumamoto Castle, from where you will be able to see one of the most beautiful Japanese castles.

Kumamoto Castle
Kumamoto Castle

Be sure to look out for Kumamon, he is a hero in Japan…

Kumamon
Kumamon

We then went on to drive into Nagasaki, so please viewour next blog post for more information about that; but we were so happy with our stay in these two prefectures we recommend a visit to everybody at some point.

Takachiho

Takachiho to Oita, Beppu Hot Springs

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.

Takachiho Gorge
Takachiho Gorge

From there, a trip to Amano Iwato Shrine (882-1621; telephone: 0982-74-8239) takes approximately 15 minutes.

Amano Iwato Shrine
Amano Iwato Shrine

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.

Hells Jigoku Beppu
Hells Jigoku Beppu

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.

Morning Mist at Kinrinko
Morning Mist at Kinrinko