Translated by Hilary Keyes
Nature, Great Food and Amazing Hot Springs! The Charms of Yufuin, Oita
Oita's hot spring town Yufuin combines both a charming rural townscape and gorgeous natural scenery. Along its main street you can enjoy delicious local treats as you browse through fascinating shops.
Written by MATCHA-PR
Known as the hot spring prefecture thanks to having the highest output of onsen water in Japan,Oita prefecture draws a great number of visitors both domestic and international. The two most popular areas in Oita are Beppu and Yufuin.
Surrounded by the splendor of nature and home to a bustling townscape, today we'd like to tell you more about the charms of Yufuin, where you will find wonderful hot springs you'll want to visit over and over again.
What is Yufuin?
Called Bungofuji ("the Fuji of Bungo", with Bungo being the historical name of this region), the foothills of Mt.Yufudake spread out into a beautiful rural landscape and a tranquil hot spring town. It goes without saying that there are popular onsen here, but there are also general stores, sweets shops, restaurants filling out this townscape, all of which make Yufuin a wonderful place.
Most visitors travel through the gateway to Kyushu, Hakata Station, where they take the Yufuin no Morigo, a limited express train. It takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach Yufuin Station from Hakata.
To Sightsee in Yufuin, Where Do You Start?
To begin with, why not take in all the lovely natural charms of Yufuin's town and natural surroundings? When you're sightseeing in Yufuin, there are two recommended ways to do this that we would like to introduce.
The Comfortable Rocking of a Horse-drawn Sightseeing Carriage
In front of Yufuin Station just waiting to greet visitors is the incredibly popular Sightseeing Horse-drawn Carriage.
With the quaint sounds of the horse's hooves clip-clopping along the streets, you can enjoy a leisurely excursion around the tranquil rural landscape. With space for a maximum of 10 passengers, there are times when it will be a bit difficult to get on the carriage right away.
Take a Rickshaw Pulled by a Friendly Driver
If you are in a small group and would like to see the sights around Yufuin, why not take an Ebisuya Rickshaw? It's an awesome experience, riding through this charming landscape in a rickshaw!
Our shafu (the proper term for a rickshaw driver) Reo Shirakawa, introduced us to many different spots in Yufuin. And when we found a place that we were interested in, she stopped the rickshaw and let us take our time to really enjoy the scenery around us.
Take a Stroll Down the Yu no Tsubo Kaido
After first seeing the sights in Yufuin from a vehicle, now let's take a walk for ourselves through the streets. Yufuin's main street, the Yu no Tsubo Kaido, has many restaurants and souvenir shops lined up in rows down both sides.
Enjoy P Rolls at B-Speak in Yufuin
Near the entrance of the main street you will find a shop that has become quite popular with visitors from overseas: B-speak.
The fluffy texture and gentle sweetness of their signature P-roll makes this the standout sweet, popular with both domestic and international customers. The ingredients that go into the P-roll are completely additive-free, meaning that this cake has a best before date of just one day. And as there are days where it sells out quickly, if you are desperate to get one, you may consider making a reservation in advance.
Enjoying Your Time in Various Specialty Shops
There are many different types of soy sauce to choose from here, and you can taste samples of them on tofu. If you find a flavor that really suits you, why not purchase a bottle as a souvenir for yourself?
Our recommendation is Oita's famous product, yuzu kosho soy sauce.
The natural flavor of the soy beans and just the right amount of sweetness make for the perfect ice cream! Enjoying a cone as you walk along the Yu no Tsubo Kaido is a great way to spend the time in Yufuin.
There are so many different types of shops along the street. There was even a store selling Snoopy-themed souvenirs.
Don't be shy - take some photos of yourself to remember your trip by!
Visit Kinrinko in the Early Morning
As you walk from Yufuin Station down along the Yu no Tsubo Kaido, you will arrive at what is perhaps Yufuin's model sightseeing attraction: Kinrinko. Flowing with hot spring water, the temperature of this lake is quite high; on cold winter mornings the difference in the water and air temperature causes a gentle mist to rise up from the lake surface, creating a wondrous and romantic atmosphere.
Enjoy a Relaxed Ambience in Tea Room Nicol
After walking along the bustling Yu no Tsubo Kaido for awhile, you may find yourself feeling a little tired, and when that happens, you should head a short distance from the main street and visit Tea Room Nicol.
Their apple pie is so famous here that it often sells out by mid-morning, but passing the time with their original chiffon cake and herb tea feels incredibly luxurious.
This is another of their amazing set courses. Anpan (sweet buns with red bean paste) from Beppu's well-known bakery, Tomonaga Bakery, served with a glass of fresh milk from Tsukawara Farm in Yufuin make for an excellent treat.
And, if you find that you aren't able to finish your anpan bread, you have it to go instead.
Enjoy Yufuin's Picturesque Scenery: Musouen
After enjoying your stroll, head towards Yufuindake where you can overlook the entirety of the town from the large open-air bath available to guests staying at Musouen.
Photo courtesy of: Musouen
On a clear day you can enjoy a gorgeous panoramic view of Yufuindake as you soak in this luxurious hot spring. You're sure to want to come back to Yufuin again and again after this experience!
Stretch Your Legs in Yunohira Onsen!
The final place we would like to introduce you to is Yunohira Onsen, located a 20 minute drive from Yufuin Onsen. With a history older than that of Yufuin itself, this place is a must for fans of hot springs and hot spring towns.
The Proprietress' Pride: Yunohiran Ice Cream
One of the most enticing points of Yunohira Onsen is the handmade ice cream, Yunihiran Ice Cream, made by the proprietress of the hot spring inn. This ice cream, entirely made with seasonal local products, is not only popular with travelers but is well-loved by the residents of the area as well.
The great natural textures and flavors of the ingredients are perfectly suited to the ice creams and gelato, but all of the flavors available are season-limited. They are so good that you will find yourself wanting to try them all!
Visitors to Japan Should Stay at the Popular Yamashiroya Ryokan
At Yunohira Onsen, more than half of the international visitors come to stay at Yamashiroya Ryokan. With an authentically old Japanese atmosphere and reservable open-air bath, news of this traditional Japanese inn has spread world-wide, making it a must-stay place for many.
Yamashiroya's Proprietress, Ms. Ninomiya
Perhaps the greatest selling point of this ryokan is the English-speaking eager proprietress, Ms. Ninomiya's wonderful omotenashi (hospitality). Her fascination with learning all about the home countries of her guests and ability to share news from their homeland with them makes Ms. Ninomiya and her charming attitude quite the popular person in this ryokan!
What do you think? We've only introduced here a fraction of just what makes visitors to Yufuin want to come back again and again. Beyond the many charms of Yu no Tsubo Kaido mentioned here, there are many, many other lovely shops to see. By all means, please head to Yufuin and find the shop that best suits you too!