The city of Ōita is situated on Beppu Bay on the northeast coast of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands. There’s not much to see in the city itself, aside from exploring the art museums and flexing the plastic in the malls and shopping centres. Most people head out from here to explore the wider prefecture’s natural and cultural attractions.
The neighbouring city of Beppu is the onsen’s spiritual home – it produces the most hot spring water in Japan and is home to most of the prefecture’s hot springs. There are endless places to bathe within the city limits, whether it’s in conventional water, mud, steam or even naturally heated sand. Choose between a private inn with its own onsen or head to a public bath.
To see (but not bathe in) the springs in a more natural state, take a tour of the ‘hells’ of Beppu; one of the area’s most tourist-friendly attractions, for a fascinating insight into Japan’s geothermal wonders. See mud bubbling away at Oniishibozu Jigoku, witness the boiling turquoise waters of Umi Jigoku or venture a little further afield to see the red-hued Chinoike Jigoku in the Shibaseki District.
Approximately six miles west of Beppu is the region’s second-most popular onsen resort, Yufuin. Sitting in the shadow of Mount Yufu, it’s much smaller than Beppu and has a lovely rural setting with rice paddies just a short walk from town. When you’re not soaking in the hot springs, peruse the shops and chic cafés of the charming main street and hike the nearby mountain trails.
For a side of culture alongside all that mineral-rich relaxation, rent a car and head to the beautifully deserted Kunisaki peninsula in the north, across Beppu Bay from Ōita city. The region has a strong spiritual ambience and is home to many Rokugo Manzan temples and shrines, as well as striking cliff carvings and numerous stone-carved statues of Buddha. The conical Mount Futago, which sits at the heart of the peninsula, is an ever-present backdrop. Must-visits in the region include the Futagoji Temple, nestled in a cedar forest near the top of the 721-metre volcano; and the ancient but well-preserved Usa Shrine, which was built in the 8th Century and sits in pretty gardens.
Southeast of Ōita City, Usuki is another great spot for culture vultures to explore. The main draw here is the cliff-carved images of Buddha about three miles from the city centre, which have been designated as national treasures. In the main urban hub, walk along the historic Samurai district’s narrow lanes, which are lined with Edo-style residences and temples – it’s a real step back in time and a photographer’s dream.
Ōita’s airport is located on the western coast of the Kunisaki peninsula, approximately 32 miles from the heart of the capital city and 25 miles from Beppu. Simply contact one of our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Ōita.