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Yufuin: 10 Things to Do Beyond Hot Springs! Cafes, Art, and Food

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Yufuin, a hot spring town in Oita, is a great day trip destination from Fukuoka. From charming cafes and museums to natural scenery, there is so much to enjoy here! Read on to learn 10 things to do and places to visit that shouldn't be missed out in Yufuin.

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Yufuin: Hot Springs, Lovely Scenery, and Local Treats

Yufuin: 10 Things to Do Beyond Hot Springs! Cafes, Art, and Food

Hot spring inns by Lake Kinrin in Yufuin. Photo by Pixta

Yufuin is a famous hot spring town located in Yufu, Oita Prefecture. Close to Beppu Onsen, this tranquil town is blessed with naturally flowing hot spring water and the mesmerizing scenery of Mt. Yufu and its surroundings.

Yufuin can be easily reached from Hakata Station in Fukuoka, making it ideal for day trips or a relaxing stay at the hot springs. The town boasts charming cafes, restaurants, museums, and other facilities that cater to a wide variety of travelers. Read on to learn 10 fun things to do in Yufuin.

10 Things to Do in Yufuin

1. Travel from Hakata to Yufuin on a Sightseeing Train
2. Explore a Fairytale World at Yufuin Floral Village
3. Relish the Beautiful Lake Kinrin
4. Go Shopping on Yunotsubo Street
5. Enjoy Local Treats: Bungo Beef, Croquettes, and Roll Cake
6. Meet Snoopy and Studio Ghibli Characters
7. Spend an Afternoon at Art Museums
8. Tour Famous Places in a Carriage
9. Soak in Yufuin's Blissful Hot Springs
10. Visit Beppu, too!

1. Travel from Hakata to Yufuin on a Sightseeing Train

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Picture courtesy of Kyushu Railway Company

If you want to enjoy a day trip to Yufuin from Hakata, why not travel on Yufuin no Mori, a sightseeing train that will enhance your travel experience?

This train with a retro-modern design is brimming with a resort-like atmosphere! The panoramic views from the spacious salon space with large windows are exceptional.

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Picture courtesy of Kyushu Railway Company

The journey from Hakata Station to Yufuin Station takes approximately two hours (the one-way regular fare is 5,690 yen). For a day trip, we suggest taking the 9:17 train departing from Hakata and returning with the 17:11 train departing from Yufuin.

Alternatively, you can also travel by highway bus, a very budget-friendly option at 2,880 yen for a one-way ticket! The buses serving the Fukuoka - Yufuin route are frequent every day.

Yufuin no Mori official website: http://www.jrkyushu.co.jp/trains/yufuinnomori/ (Japanese)

Nishitetsu Highway Bus Yufuin-go official website: https://www.nishitetsu.jp/en/highway_bus/

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2. Explore a Fairytale World at Yufuin Floral Village

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Yufuin Floral Village

Yufuin Floral Village is a theme park inspired by the Cotswolds region in England, where the famous “Harry Potter” movies were made.

The villages in the Cotswolds region are often considered among the most beautiful in the world. This facility recreates the fantasy-filled atmosphere of that area. With an owl on your arm and a robe on, you'll feel like you've gone straight to the world of Harry Potter. A commemorative picture will take you deeper into the magical world of the beloved movie.

Be sure to see the park's charming collection of souvenirs and gifts, which include items related to “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Rabbit”. With so many charming small shops within the facility, you'll enjoy both strolling and shopping just as if you were visiting an English garden-style wonderland.

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3. Capture the Mystic Beauty of Lake Kinrin on Camera

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

Lake Kinrin, located at the foot of Mount Yufu, is a scenic spot where you can experience the changing seasons throughout the year. There are walking paths around the lake, allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the forest. The multiple piers provide great vantage points for capturing photos with Kinrin Lake in the background.

If you walk towards the opposite side of the piers, near the Tenso Shrine, you can break away from other travelers and capture the majestic scenery of the mountains reflecting on the lake's surface in your photos.

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

Kinrin Lake is a unique lake where hot springs well up from the bottom. As a result, during the autumn to winter mornings when the temperature is lower, mist hovers near the water's surface. If you want to capture the enchanting scenery, aim for the morning.

On the other hand, the lake gets its name, Kinrin, from the beautiful sunset time, so an evening stroll is recommended for a day trip as well.

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4. Shopping on Yunotsubo Street

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Yufuin Tourism Association Office

A short walk in the direction of Lake Kinrin from Yufuin Station will take you to the main street of Yufuin known as Yunotsubo Kaido. This street features over 50 establishments, including restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy dishes made with local Yufuin ingredients, as well as souvenir shops selling original items.

One of the highlights of this street is its design, which takes inspiration from the buildings of the late Edo period (1603-1868), with features like white walls and tiled roofs.

Halfway down the street, you’ll arrive at Yunotsubo Alley, home to stores offering seasonal desserts and snacks, as wel as shops selling craftwork and accessories.

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5. Enjoy Local Food: Bungo Beef, Croquettes, and Swiss Rolls

Bungo Beef Mabushi

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Picture courtesy of Yufumabushi Shin

When visiting Yufuin, one of the must-try local specialties is the Bungo Beef Mabushi at the Yufumabushi Shin Ekimae store.

This is a luxurious hitsumabushi dish made with Bungo beef, a type of Japanese black-haired cattle from Oita. You won’t be able to get enough of the heavenly combination of Bungo beef and delicious Yufu rice.

Yufuin Kinsho Croquettes

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Yufuin Kinsho Croquettes

If you get hungry while walking in Yufuin, head to Yufuin Kinsho Croquettes, a popular food stand, for a treat. The fried croquettes here have a crunchy outer layer surrounding melty Irish cobbler potato and minced Japanese beef. They are simply delicious.

Purindora

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Yufuin Hanakoji Kikuya

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to make a stop at Yufuin Hanakoji Kikiya sweets shop for Purindora.

The delicious filling of dorayaki is usually red bean paste. However, this sweet snack is filled with pudding instead! The dessert has an exquisite flavor from milk made in Oguni in Aso, Kumamoto, from Jersey cows. Natural spring water found in Yufu is also a vital part of the recipe.

*Dorayaki: a Japanese sweet, consisting of anko red bean paste sandwiched between two slices of soft and sweet, pancake-like dough.

Swiss Roll

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of B-speak

Another delightful treat is the P-roll, a Swiss roll made at B-speak. This simple roll cake is not too sweet but makes a great dessert for children, which was also the idea behind its creation.

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6. Meet Snoopy and Studio Ghibli Characters

SNOOPY Tea House

Snoopy Tea House, Yufuin

Picture courtesy of 2019 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

As mentioned above, Yunotsubo Street has many stores. Some shops feature characters from animations and pop culture. SNOOPY Tea House is a must-visit café where customers can enjoy Snoopy and Peanuts character-themed fare with a Japanese flair.

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of 2019 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

The unbelievably cute dishes inspired by Snoopy and Charlie Brown are almost too precious to eat. You can also enjoy dishes prepared with local Oita ingredients and delicacies from the cafe's original menu. Onsen manju (*1), ideal for giving as souvenirs, is a Yufuin-only delicacy, too.

*Onsen manju: manju is a type of traditional Japanese dessert, a steamed bun filled with red bean paste. Onsen manju is technically made with hot-spring steam, but it may also refer to any manju dessert sold in a hot spring area.

Donguri no Mori Yufuin Store

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Folcart

Donguri no Mori is a must-visit for any Studio Ghibli or Miyazaki Hayao fan. With a myriad of Studio Ghibli character goods, such as ones from “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, and “Spirited Away”, it will delight any visitor with an appreciation for Japanese animation.

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Folcart

The nostalgic feel of the store combined with the Ghibli-filled atmosphere complement the surroundings of Yufuin. The whole store ambiance feels heart-warming and cozy.

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7. Spend an Art-filled Afternoon at Museums

Yufuin is home to many fascinating museums and art exhibits. Listed below are three museums where visitors can lose themselves in delightful, imaginative worlds.

COMICO ART MUSEUM YUFUIN

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of COMICO ART MUSEUM YUFUIN
COMICO ART MUSEUM YUFUIN was designed by prominent architect Kengo Kuma. It usually displays works from noted artists such as Takashi Murakami and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

It is referred to as the birthplace of new form of art, as it also makes a place for creators to communicate, focusing on manga, novels, and movies.

Yufuin Kuso no Mori Artegio

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

Yufuin Kuso no Mori Artegio is a music and art museum. Each of the exhibits is one of a kind, with artist and instrument motifs. Guests will slip into a world of artwork and melodies upon stepping inside the museum.

At the adjacent tea room, you can relish a tasty chocolate drink or the above-mentioned P Roll.

Watakushi Museum

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Watakushi Museum

You’ll find the lovely Watakushi Museum tucked in the vast Yufuin greenery. The museum displays around 100 pieces of art by numerous artists with a strong connection to the Kyushu region, such as the painters Hiroki Oda, from Fukuoka Prefecture, and Tatsuo Takayama, born in Oita Prefecture.

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8. Tour Famous Spots in a Carriage

Yufuin

Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

Use the Kanko Tsuji Basha (Tours by Horse Carriage) to enjoy a relaxed trip around Yufuin.

Head to the Yufu Tourist Information Center to sign up for the carriage ride. The center is right next to Yufuin Station, and the station is also the starting point of the carriage voyage.

The ride is about 50 minutes long and includes a spectacular view of Mt. Yufu. Riders can also admire historical sites such as Bussanji, a temple built in the Heian period, and Unagihime Shrine, which enshrines Kunitachi no Mikoto, a deity from Japanese myths.

The route of the carriage showcases a serene, rural part of Yufuin. Be sure to take lots of photos. The carriage will take you to lesser-known areas that are difficult or impossible to visit on foot. Sit back and enjoy the ride to discover enthralling spots in Yufuin.

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9. Soak in the Blissful Yufuin Hot Springs

Yufuin

The women's outdoor bath at Musoen. Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

Natural hot springs are, of course, a must-try in Yufuin!

Musoen has an outdoor bath exclusively for women that is 250 square meters with a stunning view of Mount Yufu. Yufuin Nanairo no Kaze also has large indoor and outdoor baths, from where visitors can gaze upon the grandiose mountain.

Yufuin Travel Guide - Best Destinations, Hot Springs, Art, And Food

Picture courtesy of Booking.com

If you're looking for accommodations, Ryokan Yamashiroya is a great choice. This Japanese inn has an excellent hot spring bathing facility in addition to the rooms being provided with private baths. It is particularly famous for its delicious cuisine made by the proprietress using rich miso paste and local ingredients.

Ryokan Yamashiroya is a facility where you can fully enjoy heartfelt Japanese hospitality.

10. Visit Beppu Onsen, too!

Yufuin

Myoban Yunosato, a facility of Myoban Onsen in Beppu. Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita

If you have some extra time, consider extending your trip to Beppu Onsen, which boasts the largest number of springs and the highest hot spring output in Japan. It's about a 40-minute drive from Yufuin. You can also get there via Yufurin, a high-speed transit bus, in about an hour and ten minutes (one-way is 940 yen).

Beppu Onsen is home to eight different types of hot spring districts, collectively known as the 'Beppu Hatto.' One of the most popular ones is Myoban Onsen. This is the very first area in Japan where alum was found. The scent of sulfur wafts all around the area.

Yufuin

Kannawa scenery. Picture courtesy of Tourism Oita
One of the eight hot springs is Kannawa, designated as one of Japan’s Cultural Landscape. The whole hot spring town is enveloped with steam, making it a spectacular sight to behold. You'll find Hyotan Onsen, recognized by the Michelin Guide, and other facilities.

Exploring Yufuin and the various areas of Beppu is convenient if you use a rental car.

FAQ

What is Yufuin known for?

Yufuin is known for its picturesque and tranquil natural surroundings, including scenic hot springs, beautiful mountains, and charming rural landscapes. It is a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation in a serene environment. Yufuin also offers a range of local arts and crafts, boutique shops, and traditional ryokan (Japanese inns), providing a quintessential experience of Japanese culture.

Is it better to stay in Beppu or Yufuin?

If you prefer a more vibrant and active atmosphere with a wide selection of hot spring facilities, Beppu may be the better choice. If you are looking for a more serene experience surrounded by natural beauty, With stunning views of Mount Yufu, open-air hot spring baths, and a focus on relaxation amid nature, Yufuin is a popular choice for those seeking a peaceful escape in a picturesque setting.

What type of hot springs are there in Yufuin?

According to information provided by the Yufuin Onsen Ryokan Association, 67% of the hot springs in Yufuin are simple hot springs, followed by alkaline simple hot springs in a proportion of 28%. Only about 5% are chloride springs and carbonic acid hydrogen mineral springs. The water of simple hot springs is mild on the skin, making it suitable for visitors of any age. Bathing in simple hot springs can help alleviate fatigue; they are also considered effective in improving autonomic instability, insomnia, and depressive conditions.

How tall is Mount Yufu?

The higher peak of Mount Yufu, called Higashi-Mine, rises to approximately 1,583 meters (5,194 feet) above sea level, while Nishi-Mine, the lower peak, reaches an elevation of approximately 1,538 meters (5,046 feet) above sea level.

Is it worth staying in Yufuin?

If you're seeking a refreshing trip to the hot springs, staying in Yufuin is definitely worth considering. The local ryokans (Japanese inns) offer exquisite cuisine and hospitality. Yufuin's beautiful setting with its charming alleys, small shops, and views of Mount Yufu, makes it a popular destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and immerse themselves in nature. Whether you're interested in leisurely strolls, rejuvenating hot spring baths, or exploring local arts and crafts, Yufuin offers a serene and unique experience for travelers.

 

Travel in Yufuin

Yufuin, with its convenient accessibility from Hakata, is transforming into more than just a hot spring destination; it's becoming a hub for new tourist attractions and trends. Why not pay a visit to explore gourmet cuisine, art, and fashionable finds in the area?

Furthermore, if you're planning to tour Kyushu by train, use the convenient JR Kyushu Rail Pass.

Main image from Pixta

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