Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Taste The Best of Oita at Touji Yanagiya, Beppu's Modern Onsen Inn
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
Among the many steaming hot springs of Beppu, Yanagiya Inn, located in Kannawa, is a wonderful inn where you can not only relax but also enjoy a great Italian meal made with local ingredients.
For hot spring lovers, a must-go place in the Kyushu region is Beppu in Oita prefecture.
Natural hot springs bubble up all over the city and you will be able to experience different types of springs in various locations. It is considered to be a "hot spring town". Within Beppu, a particularly popular spot with steam rising from the streets is Kannawa area.
Though the streets are lined with many historic inns, this time we would like to feature four charm points of the retro-modern inn, Touji Yanagiya.
What Is Touji Yanagiya?
Yanagiya is a hot spring inn that is separated into three buildings with different atmospheres. One is the main building with its historical feel, the new building with seven modern style rooms and the annex that is used as a private room with an indoor tub. The inn is rather small, but it is well known as an inn to experience the best of the hot springs of Kannawa.
When booking, if you mention your requested date and the number of people, the staff will suggest the types of rooms that are available.
At Yanagiya, they prize the idea of "being an inn that connects people with warmth".
In order to make that idea into reality, the inn set up a room with a fireplace and a conversation room that customers can use for free. They also will provide tea for free, so it is recommended that, upon your arrival here, you take a break and appreciate the history and the kindness of people.
From here, we will introduce you to the four charm points you can experience at Yanagiya.
Charm Point 1: Japanese-Style Rooms with a Relaxing Atmosphere
The seven rooms in the new building are built differently and each have a distinctive style.
This room is slightly larger and is like a standard hot spring inn where a futon mat is laid on the floor.
The most popular room in Yanagiya is the one in the photo above. For those who prefer sleeping on a bed, this may be the room for you. There are two other rooms that have beds, so for those who wish to sleep on a bed should request so when booking.
One of the most surprising things about the rooms was the appliances. During the winter, they pour the water from the hot springs into these pipes to heat the rooms. Unlike an air conditioner or stove, a gentle warm steam heats the rooms!
The greens and decorations in each room vary, making you want to come back to stay in a different room over and over.
Charm Point 2: Hot Springs for Skin Care
In the bathing room located right next to the hot spring tank, you can enjoy taking a relaxing dip in the kakenagashi (Japanese) (natural pouring water) style hot springs. With a slightly salty taste, the water in the hot spring has a high mineral content that has a healing and reviving effect on the skin.
In the ladies bath, there are open air tubs along with a steam sauna that is highly recommended.
Charm Point 3: Enjoy Cooking With Hell's Steam
One of the things to look forward at a hot spring inn is the dining options. At Yanagiya, the dinner will vary according to your reservation type. You can either cook your own meal or eat at the restaurant attached to the inn. For those who are visiting Beppu for the first time, experiencing a cooking method called "Jigoku mushi" or hell's steam is worth a try. This cooking method is unique to hot springs as they use the steam of the springs to cook up the ingredients on the spot.
The steam that is high in mineral content brings out the flavors of the ingredients. If you are traveling with a family or a group, it may be fun to go shopping in a local market and cook together.
Charm Point 4: Delicious Italian Food at a Hot Spring Inn
Depending on the reservation you've made, you will be able to dine at the Italian restaurant, Otto e Sette Oita located inside the inn. As the kind owner-chef, Mr.Kakehashi says, "Beppu is a place where ingredients from both the mountains and the sea of Oita gather."
Special Traits of the Dishes
All the delicious dishes made at Otto e Sette Oita are made from 100% local Oita ingredients. Using the best ingredients, the menu changes daily according to what is in season!
The appetizer, Vitello tonnato, uses a kurobuta pork ham and vegetables with a specialty sauce. The sweetness of the kurobuta pork matches very well with the sauce. The flowers that are topped on the dish are edible flowers that go very well with the delicious ham.
Special Traits of the Tableware
When savoring each dish, the chef wishes that the guests enjoy both the food, and the exquisite ceramics presenting the dishes as well. The chef has a discussion with pottery artists regarding the color and patterns before having it custom made. This way, you will be able to enjoy the food not only through its flavor but by its presentation as well.
In this photo you can see a pasta dish with a meat sauce featuring shishito peppers. This is a quite fulfilling pasta dish with a mild meat sauce and a spicy accent from the shishito peppers. The pasta used in the dish has been steamed using the steam from the hot springs, giving it a light salty taste.
At Yanagiya, you are welcome to just stop by for the hot springs or enjoy a hell's steam meal and hot springs as well. This place is just as enjoyable even without spending a night.
However, those who wish to get the full experience of the hot springs should stay a night to get the most out of Yanagiya. The calm atmosphere and the gentle waters of the hot springs are waiting to comfort you! If you manage to dine at Otto e Sette Oita, you would most likely want to return to Kannawa for more.