Oita Prefecture in Japan is a Haven of Onsen and Beautiful Scenery

Beppu Onsen, Umi-Jigoku and Hyotan Onsen are certainly places to enjoy in Kyushu

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If you want to see and experience the power of the forces of the earth beneath our feet, then Oita Prefecture in north-eastern Kyushu has it all; volcanoes, geysers, and gushing steamy “ onsen” (hot springs).

Being on the rim of fire that runs around the Pacific Ocean, Japan is well known for its abundance of tectonic activity and you will be surprised what you will find in Oita. It has more hot springs than anywhere else in the country and its thermal energy output is only surpassed by Yellowstone National Park in the USA.

However, Oita is not just raw natural energy, it is also 70 percent forested volcanic peaks interrupted by beautiful terraced rice fields and bamboo groves. It has a long and indented coastline that is dotted with fishing villages and these produce some of the best seafood in Japan.

Hot Sands from Hyotan Onsen Anyone?

THE onsen town of Japan is indeed the City of Beppu in Oita, situated on a large scenic bay and on the slopes of a Mt Fuji-like volcano.

Hot steam and water are literally gushing out from holes and cracks all over the city, despite the efforts to contain them in pipes for bathing, heating and more recently producing cheap and clean electric power.

The city is built around bathing in hot springs with hundreds of ryokan, hotels and inns catering to the millions of tourists who come here each year seeking relief and cures or just plain relaxation from the hot water, sand and mud baths.

Moreover, there are a number of fascinating natural geothermal sites, called Jigoku “hell” where all sorts of strange phenomena occur, such as the Blood Pond, with its deep red colour.

Beppu has a whole lot of other interesting attractions and events as well, such as a monkey park, an aquarium and a fireworks festival. If you are seeking a quieter more exclusive onsen town, then we recommend Yufuin, which is located over the mountain from Beppu, and is also a very nice place to stay.

Explore the Towns and Satisfy Your Appetite in Oita

On the other hand, if you are looking for a place for quiet contemplation or meditative walks, the Kunisaki Peninsula is an ideal place to spend some time.

Jutting out into the Inland Sea, it offers idyllic rural scenery with its terraced hillsides surrounded by bamboo and deciduous forests and striking stone escarpments.

The area has a long association with Buddhism including the 60 or so large stone Buddas carved into the cliffs that are 800 to 1,200 years old and designated at National Treasures and a number of temples scattered across the peninsula.

Just like all the regions of Japan, Oita has a unique and deep cuisine based around seafood and vegetables. It’s particularly well known for its mackerel, shiitake mushrooms and dango dumpling soup, but there are many more dishes to tempt your palate.

Oita has an international airport on a reclaimed island off the coast with direct flights from Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul. Rail access from Fukuoka and Kitakyushu is also good.

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by Phil

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