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Half The City Is A National Park! Kokonoe, Oita

Half The City Is A National Park! Kokonoe, Oita

Oita 2016.08.02 Bookmark

Kokonoe in Oita prefecture is a nature-rich town, so much that half of the city is part of a national park. You can enjoy here the beauty of the surrounding mountains and flowers throughout the year, as well as onsen hot springs. Today we'll be introducin

Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe

Written by MATCHA-PR

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Did you know that enjoying nature in Japan is now a popular trend among tourists from Asia?

Each visitor has his or her own way of enjoying their trips, such as the trekking course called Kyushu Olle, or snow activities, which are not very common in Southeast Asia. Japan boasts a natural beauty that has been preserved to this day, which attracts the admiration of visitors from overseas.

Today, we'll be introducing Kokonoe, a nature-rich town in Oita prefecture, easily accessible from Asian countries. The city offers superb views throughout the year in every season.

Half The City Is A National Park! Kokonoe, Oita

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

Kokonoe is located in the western part of Oita prefecture, a nature-rich area of which the majority is covered in mountains, forest, and wilderness. There are great differences in temperature, and there are regions which have climates like that of the Kyushu Region which Oita prefecture is located in, as well as climates like the Tōhoku region.

Kokonoe is a city that has qualities of all of Japan's nature.

Oita prefecture is known for its many hot springs, and is even called the "onsen prefecture". There are various hot springs in Kokonoe.

The fact that half of the city is part of Aso Kujū National Park and Yaba-Hita-Hikosan Quasi-National Park shows that much valuable nature still remains in Kokonoe.

Kujū Mountain Range and Tadewara Wetland

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Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

Symbolic of Kokonoe is the Kujū Mountain Range towering to the south of the town. From the end of May to the middle of June, vivid pink Rhododendron kiusianum, found only here in the world, reach full bloom.

The Rhododendron kiusianum is also designated as the flower of Kokonoe.

Other than that, flowers can be seen in all seasons other than the winter. One can admire flowers such as Hemerocallidoideae in the summer and Scabiosa japonica in the fall.

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

At the foot of the mountains is the Tadewara Wetland, which is registered to the Ramsar Convention, and impresses visitors with different beautiful views through the seasons.

The pedestrian paths and mountain trails are well-maintained, allowing visitors to enjoy hiking or genuine mountain climbing. Climbers of all levels can enjoy their time here.

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

The blue wetland in the summer is beautiful, but we also recommend the controlled burning in the spring. The controlled burning rids the wetland of old plants and flowers, and is an important operation crucial to protecting the nature of the area.

On the day of controlled burning, you'll feel the hot air even from outside of the wetland. By all means, make some time to watch the impressive sight.

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Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

The Kujū Forest Park Ski Area is located nearby. There are only three places in the Kyushu region where you can ski, and this is one of them. It's a must-go spot for visitors looking for snow in Japan.

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

Experience Onsen Tamago Making At Komatsu Jigoku

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"Jigoku", meaning "hell", is a strange landscape created by hot springs. The Jigoku in Beppu, Oita is well-known, but there is also a Jigoku here in Kokonoe. That is the Komatsu Jigoku.

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A sight of rocks spreads in front of your eyes and steam rises up all over the place. It is a scene just like "hell". The smell of sulfur will stick to your nose.

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Just watching Komatsu Jigoku is entertaining enough, but we also recommend you experience making onsen tamago (hot spring eggs). You can try making soft-boiled eggs using the hot water of the Jigoku.

※Eggs are not sold at Komatsu Jigoku. You will need to bring egss yourself or purchase them at a nearby hotel or shop.

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To make onsen eggs is quite easy. First you'll put your eggs inside a special basket, which is available at Komatsu Jigoku.

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Hold the stick attached to the basket and put the basket slowly inside the hot water. All you have to do now is wait for about 10 minutes. On cold days or when it's raining, the temperature of the water will be lower, so you should wait a little longer.

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And you're done! You can sprinkle salt over it, or eat it as it is, as it'll have a slight taste of the hot spring. The white of the egg will be moderately hardened, and the yolk creamy and soft. An "onsen tamago" has an exquisite texture.

Thrills And Spectacular View! The "Yume" Otsurihashi Bridge

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This new, symbolic landmark of Kokonoe was established in 2006. The Kokonoe "Yume" Otsuruhashi is the highest suspension bridge in Japan. The name of the bridge, "Yume", translates as "Dream".

At the deepest point on the bridge, there are 173 meters between the bridge and the water surface below.

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Looking down from the center of the bridge, you will feel how high it is.

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Many visitors walking across the bridge stop to have a look at the scenic view around them. And with the magnificent views of the mountains around the bridge, why wouldn't you?

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You can enjoy the superb natural beauty, like the Shindo no Taki falls.

The Giant Utaseyu At Sujiyu Onsen

The hot spring towns dotted around Kokonoe are collectively called the Kokonoe "Yume" Onsengō (Kokonoe "Dream" Hot Spring Town).

Of the hot spring towns, located by Komatsu Jigoku and Kujū Forest Park Ski Area is Sujiyu Onsen. It has a history of over 1,000 years, and boasts more than 30 hot-spring hotels.

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One of the public baths, Yakushiyu.

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One of the public baths, Iwan'yu. The men's section and women's section at public baths change every day.

Staying at a hot-spring hotel and relaxing in an onsen is great, but we also recommend the public baths. There are three public baths at Sujiyu Onsen, which can be used by non-overnight guests as well.

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This is the interior of Iwan'yu. It's a beautiful onsen that has become one with nature.

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Photo courtesy of: Kokonoe

This utase-yu (beating water) is well-known. You can have your body massaged by the hot water falling from a height of 3 meters, while you warm your body as well. Utase-yu of this size is rare even in Japan.

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Using a public bath is easy. You'll buy medals at this vending machine, and then insert the designated number of medals at the entrance. Just have good manners toward others when using the bath.

※The necessary number of medals differs depending on the bath.

A Good-Luck Boar

Have you ever seen a white boar? The Okkotonushi from the Studio Ghibli film "Princess Mononoke" is a giant white boar, but white boars do not exist in the real world.

In Kokonoe, there is a shrine where the supposedly non-existent white boar can be found. That shrine is Takara Hachimangū.

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A little way from the main shrine is the white boar's house.

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Instead of a komainu, a komainoshishi (koma boar) welcomes visitors.

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It's a white boar! A white boar was found by chance in Takarayama, where Takara Hachimangū stands. They gradually grew in number, and a family of 6 lives here at present.

The boars are pretty large, and you may be taken aback at first. But if you watch the cute behavior of the boars trying to get that bread out of your hand, you'll forget you were afraid of them.

The white boars are thought to bring happiness. After visiting the shrine, you should ask the cute boars for some good-luck blessings.

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Takarayama Hachimangū is also known for its 10,000 hydrangeas.

Enjoy Kokonoe Gourmet At The Farmhouse Restaurant "Bebenko"

Kokonoe is known for its successful agriculture and stockbreeding. Bungo-gyū beef, vegetables from highlands, and blueberries are harvested. If you visit Kokonoe, you should try some of the specialty foods.

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When looking for such foods, we recommend the Farmhouse Restaurant Bebenko. It's a restaurant managed by a farming family of Kokonoe.

The people who know well the ingredients can make use of the best of each ingredient to prepare delicious dishes.

And just so you know, "Bebenko" means a "young cow" in the Oita dialect.

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A soft juicy Bungo-gyū steak, warm croquette, and a sweet and sour blueberry soft serve will satisfy your tummy.

See with your eyes, experience, and eat delicious Japanese food! Enjoy Kokonoe to the fullest!

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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