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Oita, Japan's No.1 Onsen (hot spring) Prefecture.Oita is proud to be Japan's number one prefecture in terms of hot spring output and number of sources.Regardless of the season, Oita continues to be a popular destination for tourists wanting to enjoy a hot spring experience.Oita is easily accessible by both land and air via Kyushu Shinkansen or Oita airport.This is definitely a place you’ll want to tour around to see all the tourist spots and enjoy the local hot springs as much as possible.Today, let's check out the region’s top tourist and seasonal attractions.
Oita has an approximate area of 6,340㎢ and an estimated population of 1.14 million people.Located on the western side of the Seto Inland Sea, Oita is categorized as having a Seto Inland Sea climate. However, the climate tends to differ depending on the area.Northern Oita is characterized by cloudy weather. Central Oita gets more clear weather due to the nearby mountainous region.The west experiences many thunderstorms each summer and in the south, summer brings heavy rain.As a consequence, the region is well known for its varied weather.
Famous for its many hot springs, Oita is known as “The Onsen Prefecture.”Not only can you enjoy an onsen experience, but there is also a variety of interesting tourist attractions to visit.Check out our list of the top ten attractions in Oita.Later, we will go into more depth about the region's amazing hot springs, so we'll leave it off the list for now.
1/ Yabakei Gorge
2/ Funai Castle Ruins
3/ Takasakiyama Monkey Park
4/ Harajiri Falls
5/ Kuju Flower Park
6/ Usuki Magaibutsu Stone Buddhas
7/ Furen Stalactite Cave
8/ Usa Shrine
9/ Former Residence of Fukuzawa Yukichi
10/ Sanrio Character Park Harmonyland
The ten we’ve listed include quiet and cultured tourist spots, places rich in natural beauty and attractions for the whole family. Funai Castle Ruins, just a ten-minute walk from Oita station, is a place where the citizens of Oita like to come to rest and relax.This castle was built by Fukuhara Naotaka, the brother-in-law of Ishida Mitsunari who served under the famous feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but there is no castle tower remaining today.It is also a famous spot for cherry blossoms, so we’ll talk about it more later.For those traveling with kids, we recommend a visit to Sanrio Character Park Harmonyland.Adults and children alike will have fun at this theme park with cute Sanrio characters.You can pick up some adorable merchandise, too!
No trip to Oita would be complete without visiting a hot spring, or onsen.Let's take a look at some of the best locations.However, with so many onsen to be found all over Oita, it might be a little hard deciding which one to go to. How about staying in a hot spring resort, where you can soak in an onsen as long as you like and you can be sure to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing time?These are our top picks.
1/ Beppu Onsen
2/ Yufuin Onsen
3/ Nagayu Onsen
4/ Yunohira Onsen
5/ Sujiyu Onsen
Beppu and Yufuin are two of the most famous onsen.These two onsen come to the minds of most people when they hear Oita.There is also the interestingly named “Nagayu Onsen”, meaning long bath.Because its naturally high carbonated spring water is so bubbly, one of the onsen facilities is also called Lamune Onsen, named after Japan's traditional fizzy drink.Enjoy an onsen that is a bit different from the usual by soaking in the waters of Nagayu Onsen, your body surrounded by fine bubbles.It’s an experience unique to Nagayu Onsen!
Let’s now take a look at Oita’s best places to see the cherry blossoms.Spring in Japan is all about the sakura, or cherry blossoms.Many locations in Oita, too, offer stunning views of cherry blossoms.Here are some of the best spots.
1/ Isshinji Temple
2/ Heiwa Shimin Park
3/ Usuki Castle Ruin
4/ Yufuin - Oita Riverside
5/ Funai Castle Ruins
Yaezakura, or double cherry blossoms, bloom in the valley at Isshinji Temple and this stunning scenery is often described as looking like “a sea of cherry blossom clouds”.Not only will you find the usual pink blossoms, check out the spectacular display of unusual green and yellow cherry blossoms, too.Take a photo to capture the moment!At Yufuin - Oita Riverside, you can enjoy cherry blossoms blooming alongside bright yellow rape flowers.Enjoy the scenery while taking a leisurely walk.At the Funai Castle Ruins, which we previously mentioned, make sure you look out for not only cherry blossom trees themselves, but also their beautiful reflection in the moat.
Next, here are some of the best spots to see autumn colors.If you plan to visit Oita in autumn, how about setting aside some time to see the beautiful fall colors.
1/ Ura-Yabakei Gorge
2/ Shin-Yabakei Gorge
3/ Kototoi no Sato
4/ Fujikawachi Gorge
5/ Hinatame Valley
Oita is full of places where you can witness incredible displays of colorful autumn foliage.For example, in Ura-Yabakei Gorge, an area packed with scenic areas, you can see rugged rock and autumn colors together at the same time, which makes for some striking scenery.These beautiful spots, some even being designated as places of National Scenic Beauty, just can’t be missed when you visit Oita.Kototoi no Sato, a mountain village located in the Hita city area, is a “Sato No Eki”, which are rest areas that provide a variety of regional information and showcase local products.In autumn, the maple trees in the surrounding area explode with color, putting on a stunning display of autumn colors.If you visit Kototoi no Sato in summer, you can swim and play in a natural river pool. We recommend coming here, not only in autumn, but in summer, too.
Now that we have discussed the areas seasonal attractions, let’s now take a look at Oita’s regional cuisine.Since you’ve come all this way, you’ll want to taste some of the delicious local food while you are out exploring the region.
1/ Ryu-kyu (marinated sashimi)
2/ Hitanzushi (colorful bite-size sushi)
3/ Gomadashi udon (noodles topped with a fish sesame paste)
4/ Itokoni (simmered root vegetables with adzuki beans)
5/ Ureshino (Red snapper rice with green tea)
These dishes may sound unfamiliar to a lot of people!Hitanzushi, from Hita city, are cute bite-size sushi that are easy to eat.Made with wild and seasonal vegetables, this healthy sushi is popular among women.If you are in and around Hita city, definitely take the chance to try this dish.Ureshino is a dish made from sea bream and rice.A favorite of a feudal lord, the name came about after he expressed how happy he was eating this delicious dish by saying “Ureshii noo” (I’m so happy).These days, this dish can be made with more reasonably priced fish instead of expensive sea bream.Once loved by a feudal lord, this is one of Oita’s regional dishes you’ll definitely want to try.
After checking out Oita's best tourist spots, popular onsen, seasonal attractions and regional food, did you come across some things you would like to check out? An area rich in nature, Oita is also renowned for its numerous valleys.So, visit Oita for an up-close look at powerful and dynamic autumn colors.There are plenty of enjoyable spots to check out during the other seasons, so make sure you come back for another visit.Soak away the fatigue of the day by staying at one of Oita’s popular hot spring resorts where you can enjoy the mineral-rich onsen water as much as you like.
It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.