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Yufuin, the Ideal Place to Soak in a Spa

Enjoy the Hot Springs and a Stroll Through the Town


A horse-drawn cart with Mt. Yufu-dake in the background.

Yufuin Onsen in Oita Prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, is a popular hot spring resort that travelers consistently rank among the top such destinations in Japan. This quiet, relaxed spa town is especially popular among women. Located in a green valley basin beneath the spectacular Mt. Yufu-dake, Yufuin Onsen is blessed with abundant water resources: 43,000 liters of steaming, mineral-rich hot water bubble forth each minute from more than 800 sources.

Relax at Your Leisure
The onsen (hot spring) has a long history, even appearing in writings from more than 1,000 years ago, and over the course of its development local residents have taken care to preserve the abundant natural surroundings in which they live. As a result, despite becoming a famous hot-spring resort, the quiet rural landscape remains unchanged and is appreciated as a place to find peace and tranquility. Yufuin Onsen has been designated as a Hot Spring Health Resort by Japan's Ministry of the Environment.


The beautiful Lake Kinrin.

What makes this resort unique is that, with so many spring sources spread across a wide area, the hotels and inns are not centered in one location, and each has quite extensive grounds. The town has a spacious layout and, in accordance with development restrictions, there are no high-rise hotels disturbing the skyline.

Among the words that best describe a stay at Yufuin are "relaxed" and "unhurried"; it is the kind of place that merits an extended stay. Many of the inns and hotels in the area boast traditional Japanese gardens and other features designed to ensure that guests enjoy a quiet, peaceful stay. Some even have rooms located detached from the main building to guarantee guests a taste of splendid isolation.

Visitors can enjoy the town's quaint atmosphere with a leisurely walk along the main street, called Yunotsubo Kaido. The street, which stretches out from JR Yufuin Station, is lined with art museums, small galleries, stylish restaurants and cafes, and souvenir shops.

Visitors can also see the sights of the town while listening to the rhythmical clip-clop of horses' hooves as they ride in a rustic horse-drawn wagon, a tourist favorite ever since it first graced the streets in 1975. Another popular way to see the town is with a ride in the Scarborough, a retrofitted British classic car.


Bungo beef and local poultry (C)Yufuin Tsukahara Highland Tourism Association/Oyado Yufunoshou

Footbaths in Unusual Places
There are many public bathhouses for visitors to enjoy, not to mention footbaths called ashiyu in various places around the town. You can even refresh your feet in such baths on the train platform and at the Yufuin Art Museum. Only in a hot spring resort would you be able to enjoy a foot bath while waiting for the train or contemplating works of art.

There are also many spots offering panoramic views of the area's natural beauty, such as Mt. Yufu-dake, which welcomes large numbers of mountain climbers throughout the year. Said to have a hot-spring source at its bottom, Lake Kinrin is shrouded in an ethereal mist early in the morning on cold winter days. Other attractions include the mystical Yufu River Gorge, one of the deepest ravines in Japan, and spots for watching the fireflies that light up the area at night between May and July.


Poultry served yakitori-style.

One of the area's most delicious culinary offerings is tender Bungo beef from a Japanese breed of cattle that has long been raised in Oita Prefecture. Regarded as among the finest wagyu (Japanese beef) in the country, steaks and charbroiled slices of Bungo beef are especially sumptuous. Local poultry is also popular, and there are many eateries in the area that serve it yakitori-style (grilled on skewers) or raw and thinly sliced like sashimi. You can also enjoy simple, hearty home-style dishes made from locally grown vegetables. (March 2009)