Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yufuin – Experience the Most Unique Onsen Resort in Japan

Yufuin (由布院 or 湯布院) is an onsen resort town in Ōita Prefecture in northern Kyūshū. 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 travelers. 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 Ōita”. You can hike the double peak in around 90 minutes. Especially in November, when vibrant fall colors cover the mountain and valley, it is really worth the effort of making it to the top!

As soon as you step out of Yufuin Station, the spectacular Mt. Yufu towers before you, right in your face!

Also, you can drink the hot spring at some of the onsen facilities, which is said to be beneficial for diabetes, gout, constipation, and obesity.

A List of Attractions in Yufuin

Click HERE to find out how to get to Yufuin.

The Cherry Blossom and Fall Foliage Season at Yufuin

  • The cherry blossom season at Yufuin along the Ōita River (大分川) is usually around early April
  • The fall foliage season at Yufuin is usually from early to mid-November

Yunotsubo Kaido (湯の坪街道)

Yunotsubo Kaido is the main street of Yufuin. Starting from just opposite the JR Yufuin Station all the way to close to the famous landmark of Yufuin – Kinrinko Lake, the whole street is filled with a variety of shops and restaurants!

Wandering in the boutique shops (perfect for souvenirs or accessories) will make you lose track of time, as well as all the traditional buildings that house delicious cafes and restaurants (´▽`*).

Donguri no Mori (どんぐりの森)

If you are a Studio Ghibli fan, don’t miss out on Donguri no Mori!

The shop is full of Studio Ghibli’s related products. From My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, to the more recent movie – When Marnie was There, we are sure you won’t be leaving empty-handed (≧▽≦).

Donguri no Mori’s Business Hours
  • Donguri no Mori is open from
    • 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays
    • 9:30 am to 5 pm on weekends and public holidays

Snoopy Chaya (SNOOPY茶屋)

Among all the cafes in Yufuin, Snoopy Chaya stands out the most. Per the cafe’s name, the whole cafe is about the cartoon Peanuts, featuring Snoopy. From main dishes to desserts, you will be able to find a trace of the Snoopy family in all the dishes you order (=゚ω゚)ノ.

To discover their delicious and super cute menu, please click HERE!

Important: For our vegetarian friends, unfortunately, they don’t have any vegetarian light meal menu at the moment. You can, however, enjoy the Japanese-style desserts (as the pancake contains eggs)!

If you are a big Snoopy fan, you will probably be grabbing dozens of Snoopy-related goods such as cutleries, plates, mugs…etc (refer to HERE for the range of cute things they sell in all Snoopy Chaya).

Each of the Snoopy Chaya in Japan also sells products that are exclusive to a particular cafe. So make sure you grab a few Yufuin-only Snoopy goods when you visit the Chaya in Yufuin. Refer to HERE for the goods unique to the Snoopy Chaya in Yufuin!

Snoopy Chaya’s Business Hours
  • From the 6th of March to the 5th of December:
    • The shop is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
    • The cafe is open from 10 am to 5 pm
    • The last order is at 4:30 pm
  • From the 6th of December to the 5th of March:
    • The shop is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm
    • The cafe is open from 10 am to 4:30 pm
    • The last order is at 4 pm

Yufuin Floral Village (湯布院 フローラルヴィレッジ)

Yufuin Floral Village was built based on the most beautiful Hills in the world – Cotswold in England. Although the ground isn’t big, it will be the cutest village you will ever visit! Each of the houses in the village has its theme. Some are themed by famous cartoons/anime, such as Disney’s Frozen.

Unless you want to visit one of the animal cafes (such as cat or owl), entry to the village is free of charge. So take this opportunity to take some stunning photos – with Mt Yufu towering in the background and these adorable houses in front!

For fans of Studio Ghibli, make sure you drop by Kiki’s Delivery Service bakery. And if you grew up with Heidi, Girl of the Alps, you are in luck! Not only do they have an area dedicated to the cartoon, but you will also meet the sheep in the animal in real-life! Check out the village’s official HERE.

Yufuin Floral Village’s Opening Hours

The village is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily.

Staying at Yufuin Floral Village

If you really love the fairy-tale kind of atmosphere, you can make a booking to stay in the village! HERE is the link to their website for a few photos of what the accommodation facilities look like.

  • The Japanese-style room is of a size of 35 square meters
  • There are a total of 4 rooms, each with a maximum capacity of 4 people
  • The windows of the guestrooms are all looking out to the Yufuin Floral Village

Important:
☛ At this stage, they only accept female guests at this stage (;´・ω・)).
☛ You have to be able to check in between 3 to 6 pm
☛ If you are coming with a car, you will be charged an extra 1,000 yen to park in their car park. You can park there until 12 pm the following day

You can make a booking on their official website HERE and translate it to English by using Google Chrome’s translation function. If you need help with reservations, you can contact us HERE, and we will be in touch to help out.

Roasted Chestnuts in Autumn

In autumn, if you spot a stall in the main street selling roasted chestnuts, make sure you give it a try (=゚ω゚)ノ.

While the price is a little steep, we assure you they will be the most delicious chestnuts you will have in your life! They are big, easy to peel, and as sweet as a lolly (*’▽’).

Every time we see a roasted chestnut stall in Japan, we at least get one if not two bags of them (≧▽≦). The chestnuts are great when they are warm, but even after they become cold, they are still perfect snacks!

Lake Kinrinko (金鱗湖)

Yufuin-Lake-Kinrinko-Autumn
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Lake Kinrinko is the most scenic spot in Yufuin. No matter what angle you are taking the photo from, it will be one of the best in your photo collections!

Apparently, the lake that is currently 400 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep was originally a lot bigger. But due to multiple earthquakes that caused several landslides, the lake’s size slowly reduced to what it is now.

Lake Kinrinko During Sunset

Before the famous Confucian scholar Kuso Mori (毛利空桑) renamed the lake, it was called Takemoto no Ike (岳本の池), meaning the lake where mountains started to arise.

If you want to know why Kuso Mori renamed it Kinrinko, make sure you come to the lake during sunset. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the breathtaking scenery that he saw back in 1884! When the sunlight shines on the fish that jumped out of the lake, their scales are golden (due to the reflection of sunlight). This is why he named it Kinrinko, the lake with golden fish scales (^_-)-☆.

Morning Mist at Lake Kinrinko

The distinguishing feature of Lake Kinrinko is the onsen and spring water flowing out from the bottom of the lake. So, from late autumn to early spring, you will be able to see the fantastic scenery that is caused by the morning mist (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ⓒ photo-ac.com/

Tip: Make sure you arrive at the lake before sunrise, or you won’t be able to capture this amazing scenery. Also, your photo will look more awesome if you capture the Torii (shrine’s gate) in the lake!

Lake Kinrinko’s Autumn

Lake Kinrinko’s autumn foliage was ranked the best in Ōita Prefecture in 2021. With the vivid color around the lake, from yellow to orange to amber, the ranking didn’t come as a surprise.

Around the lake, quite a few strolling paths provide you with perfect photo opportunities. While there were quite a few tourists when we visited the lake, it wasn’t crowded to the point that you couldn’t take a clear photo (like Kyoto).

If you are keen to experience the beautiful autumn at Lake Kinrinko, plan your visit between early to mid-November (=゚ω゚)ノ.

And if you also look for some traditional onsen ryokan experience, check out Yufunogo Saigakukan, the Kaiseki Ryori and their hospitality were the highlights of our stay.

Izumi Soba (古式手打そば 泉)

At the side of Lake Kinrinko, you will find this Soba noodle restaurant.

With the perfect location overlooking the lake and super delicious handmade soba, the restaurant is popular with the locals and tourists.

We found it fascinating watching the staff making soba noodles in front of us (and you don’t need to be a customer to watch!).

Note that the broth contains animal products for both the cold and hot soba. So if you are strict with your vegetarian diet, you probably want to settle for their onigiri (rice balls).

The restaurant is open daily between 11 am to 3 pm. Although the restaurant is popular, we didn’t have to wait around during normal lunch hours (or we were probably just lucky?).

Festivals at Yufuin

If you love festivals, refer to the below dates to plan your next visit to Yufuin!

  • On a Saturday or Sunday in the last week of April or the first week of May: Yufuin Onsen Festival (ゆふいん温泉まつり). Since 1950, the Yufuin Onsen Festival has been a way for the locals to show their appreciation for Onsen. There will be a parade and performances with many Japanese traditional art elements on the day. Photos of past events can be found on the official website HERE
    ☛ The festival is held on Yufumi-Dori (Yufumi Street).
  • On the 7th of May: Yufuin Music Festival (ゆふいん音楽祭). The festival was first held in 1975 to show the rest of the country that Yufuin is doing well after the earthquake that happened earlier in the year. The event has since been a summer tradition for Yufuin for people to enjoy music and promote musical arts.
  • On the 29th of May: The Yufuin Ride event is held to promote life with bicycles. There were courses for all levels of cyclists. All who participated were able to enjoy cycling in this beautiful town (^^)/.
    ☛ The festival is held at Yufuin City Hall.
  • The 15th and 16th of August: Yufuin Basin Festival (ゆふいん盆地まつり). On the 15th of August each year, the Kojosai (蝗攘祭) is held as a tradition to pray for next year’s good harvest. A firework display is normally held at night. On the next day, Bondori Daikai (dancing around a bonfire) is held. You will usually see the whole Yufumi Street filled up with participants (apparently more than 1,000 people). Photos of past events can be found on the official website HERE.
    ☛ The festival is held in Yufuin town.
  • The 25th to the 28th of August 2022: Yufuin Film Festival (湯布院映画祭). It is Japan’s oldest film festival to date, going back to the 1970s. Usually, there will be parties each night, and this may be your chance to meet your favorite directors and actors (limited to those that participated in the movies shown during the festivals, though)! 
    ☛ The festival is held at Yufuin City Hall.
  • There is also Ushikui Zekkyo Daikai (牛喰い絶叫大会) held each October. But it is an event for barbeque beef lovers. So we won’t post more details about the event here…

How to Get to Yufuin

There are several options that you can choose from to access this beautiful town. So you can choose whatever will suit your travel plans (‘ω’)ノ.

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By Train

From JR Hakata Station, the limited express sightseeing train – Yufuin no Mori is the best choice if you are taking JR trains. The one-way ticket is currently 5,190 yen. But with JR Passes, it won’t cost you a penny!

If the train is operating normally, it will take approximately 2 hours to get to Yufuin.

  • From Tokyo Station, taking Shinkansen to Yufuin takes around 7.5 hours and costs around 25,000 yen
  • From Shin-Osaka Station, taking Shinkansen to Yufuin takes around 5 hours and costs 17,500 yen

By Airplane

If you are flying from Tokyo to Oita prefecture to get to Yufuin, it takes around 1 hour 35 minutes from Haneda Airport and approximately 2 hours from Narita Airport. The airfare is normally ranging from 15,000 yen to 30,000 yen. So, if you need to travel fast and/or don’t have a JR pass, it might end up being a cheaper way the taking JR trains.

  • From Ōita Airport:
    → It takes around 45 minutes if you catch a taxi (and a lot of money).
    → Direct bus services from Ōita Airport to Yufuin (around 55 minutes and cost 1,550 yen).
  • From Fukuoka Airport: it is probably the easiest to get to JR Hakata. From there, you can take the sightseeing train – Yufuin no Mori, or bus services running by Kamenoi Bus.

By Bus

  • From JR Beppu Station (別府駅):
    ☛ Kamenoi Bus Co: take Yufurin or bus route no. 36 Yufuin Line (around 15 minutes faster). You will be at Yufuin in around 1 hour depending on which bus you take. Both routes will cost you 940 yen. The timetable for both routes can be found HERE (in Japanese so please use the Japanese characters of the stop names to read). Please get off at Yufuin (湯布院) for both routes.
    ☛ Kyūshū Sanko Bus Co: take Kyūshū Odan Bus, and you will be at Yufuin within 1 hour. It will cost you 1,000 yen. Reservations can be made HERE on their website. If you plan to explore Kyushu mainly by bus, it will be worthwhile to get one of the SUNQ Pass, a bus pass that allows unlimited bus rides within the validity period. It also brings you heaps of discounts on many facilities in Kyūshū. Check out SUNQ Pass’s official website HERE.
  • From JR Hakata Station: take Kamenoi Bus Co (亀の井バス)’s or Hita Bus Co (日田バス)’s bus route Yufuingō (ゆふいん号) (same route name for both bus companies). You will be at Yufuin in approximately 2.5 hours. The transport cost for both companies is 3,250 yen.

Other than buses operated by Kyūshū Sanko Bus Co, you can make a reservation through HERE (Kyūshū’s biggest bus reservation website).

By Ferry

If you are coming from Osaka, Kobe, Yamaguchi, Shigoku, Ehime, or Kochi, you will be in Oita prefecture when you woke up. Also, traveling to Yuyfuin by ferry is highly recommended if you plan to explore Yufuin and Oita Prefecture by car (as you will be driving onto the ferry).

Depending on what guestrooms you choose, the price usually starts from around 8,000 yen for ferries departing from the Kansai region (without bringing a car or a bike). For ferries coming from areas such as Ehime, the price starts from around 3,000 yen.

For more details, visit the ferry company’s website below:

From the port that you arrive at, you will be able to take JR trains or buses to reach Yufuin.

Extend Your Visit to Ōita Prefecture to Beppu to Find Out What the Hell Looks Like

Find out more on how to get to this bloody pond by clicking the photo!

Whether you believe whether hell exists or not, wouldn’t it be fascinating to see what it might look like while you are alive?

 Plan ahead of your visit to hell with our article on Beppu to find out what to do when you get there!

Visiting Beppu by Taking the Sightseeing Train – Yufuin no Mori

While there are a couple of ways that can get you to Yufuin, if you have time, take the gorgeous sightseeing train – Yufuin no Mori!

Different from the normal JR train, Yufuin no Mori was designed to enhance your travel experience to Beppu and Yufuin with various services and facilities that make your train ride more pleasant.

For more information, please refer to our article on Yufuin no Mori.

Yufuin-no-mori to yufuin and Beppu in Kyushu
Click the photo to find out more about Yufuin no Mori!

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