Yufuin (由布院 or 湯布院) is an onsen resort town in northern Kyushu. Unlike most onsen towns in Japan, this resort, backed by the scenic twin-peaked Mt. Yufu, has a wealth of boutiques, trendy cafes, and small museums. The small town, therefore, cleverly appeals to all types of travellers. Whether you are a nature lover, a foodie, or enjoy browsing cute boutiques, Yufuin will be a satisfying treat (^^)/.
Mt. Yufu, a volcano of approximately 1,560 meters tall, is also known as the “Mt. Fuji of Oita”. You can hike the double peak in around 90 mins. Especially in November, when the mountain and valley are covered by vibrant autumn colours, it is really worth the effort of making it to the top!
If you have come to Yufuin for its onsen and the spectacular scenic view, then Yufunogo Saigakukan (柚富の郷 彩岳館) is the onsen ryokan that you don’t want to miss!
Almost all accommodations at Yufuin have onsen (hot spring baths) for their customers to enjoy. But there are only so many spots in the area that come with the backdrop of Mt. Yufu. And, the pricing of the ryokan (traditional hotel) is quite reasonable compared to other ryokans in the area (^_-)-☆.
JR Kyūshū, which is part of the wider Japan Rail company, runs the most sightseeing trains in Japan. One of these trains is Yufuin no Mori (ゆふいんの森), which means “The Forest of Yufuin”. Just like its name, the train was built to reflect the many charms of Yufuin, a hot spring town in Ōita prefecture (大分県) surrounded by rich nature.
Departing from JR Hakata Station (博多駅), there are 6 stops along the train line. Each of the stations on the train line has its own attractions, with Beppu and Yufuin being the most popular destinations for tourists both local and international.
From ancient times, the people who lived in Beppu (別府) suffered from the heat generated by volcanic activities. Crops could hardly be grown on the field causing serious food shortage problems. And because the terrifying landscapes shaped by volcanic activities are nowhere to be found elsewhere in Japan, various myths and legends emerged that stopped people from approaching the town. This is also why the area has been called Jigoku (hell).
When you come to Beppu, a city that has a lot of steam coming out of the hot spring underground, you won’t want to miss steaming your own meal for yourself using that natural, mineral-rich steam!
One of the restaurants that provide this experience is Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa (地獄蒸し工房 鉄輪). You will be able to access it with a 20 mins bus ride from JR Beppu Station (別府駅)!
This method of steaming ingredients with the steam coming from the underground is called Jigoku Mushi (hell steam) locally. This is because the hot spring where the steam is coming from is so hot, it is like the heat of a fiery hell bubbling through the steam.
Although the name of the cuisine sounds scary, the steam not only brings out the true flavours of the food, it also adds a natural light mineral taste that compliments the ingredients nicely!