If you are looking for a trendy, yet tranquil, mountain hot spring resort, Yufuin Onsen, called the town of morning mist, is the place for you. Located at the foot of Mount Yufu in Yufu, Oita Prefecture, it is one of Japan’s most beautiful hot springs.
The Yufuin Hot Springs has been a point of interest and popular in Japan since the 8th century. Interestingly, the town of Yufuin merged with Hasama and Shonai in 2005, becoming the city of Yufu. Yufuin is a tourism-based town whose economy is extremely dependent on hot spring visitors.
While the town of Beppu often focuses on male tourists, Yufuin traditionally focuses on females and young families. Additionally, Yufuin isn’t far from Beppu, and you won’t regret adding it to your itinerary, in fact, it may be your first choice onsen to visit!
The natural flowing waters of Yufuin are known to ease neuralgia, arthritis, myalgia, and fatigue. Some visitors find if you drink it, the waters may help with constipation, diabetes, gout, and obesity.
However, one main reason this hot spring is popular with ladies is due to its skin clarifying and beautifying properties due to its acidic pH of 1.4. While most of the waters are clear, there are a few blue ones that are sought for their skincare properties.
Where To Soak and Stay
Like most hot spring towns in Japan, there is a mix of traditional ryokan and more modern hotels. Many of the hot springs are reserved for overnight guests, but there are a few that allow day visitors. You may wonder where to go while visiting Yufuin, so here are a few fan favorites:
Musouen is the perfect place to relax as you revel in your amazing view of Mount Yufu. This large rotemburo (outdoor bath) is separated by gender and allows daytime visitors for a small fee.
When the weather is beautiful, you can see the twin peaks of Mount Yufu while soaking in these waters at Baien. The baths are separated by gender and also allow day visitors. For those staying overnight, two meals are included.
If you’re looking for a quick dip after arriving in Yufuin, the Sansuikan can be found after a short walk from the Yufuin Station. You can soak in the indoor or outdoor waters and enjoy a scented bath and sauna (genders are separated). Day visitors allowed and overnight guests receive two meals.
Shitanyu Public Bath
This traditional bath is mixed gendered and has limited facilities. It can be found near the shore of Lake Kinrinko and has a little greenery to view while bathing.
Found at Kinrinko Lake, Kamenoi Besso is considered one of the most expensive and most respected ryokan in Japan. You can find a delicious restaurant that also serves western meat and dairy from the local farms. Most rooms have a private bath wit the additional community bath on-site.
Time in Nature
For those who love hiking, Mount Yufu-dake is a must-do. The twinned peaked volcanic mountain gives you a spectacular view of Yufuin and Beppu.
If you take the path from Yufu-dake Tozan Guchi and end at the town Yufuin, it should take you around 5 hours. This 1584 meter high peak will give you impressive landscape views including lush green forests and barren wastelands.
Yufuin Basin is a magnificent place to visit at sunrise and sunset. This small lake has spectacular views and is a great place for a swim after a long hike. Make sure you come prepared because there are no facilities in the area.
Lake Kinrinko is only a 25-minute walk from the station. Due to the hot and cold springs flowing up from the lake, the temperature stays warm year-round.
This beautiful and peaceful lake, with its morning mist, is an ideal location to reflect and relax. There are several hot springs and ryokan for you to visit while there.
While the Kokone Yume Otsurihashi bridge isn’t exactly nature, it will certainly give you amazing views of it. It spans over the Kyushu Valley hanging 777 meters above ground and provides views of waterfalls and the Naruko-gawa gorge.
Usually, you need a ticket to visit this site, so check in advance.
If you are looking for a place to shop while in Yufuin, Yunotsubo Street is your spot. This street is filled with over 50 stores, restaurants, and cafes. For you anime lovers out there, Donguri no Mori has a wide array of Ghibli and Miyazaki souvenirs!
For The Kid In All Of Us
Snoopy Tea House provides guests with a Snoopy and Peanut themed food experience!
Your children will love eating plates full of food designed to look like their favorite characters; they are almost too cute to eat! While the restaurant is a little pricey, it remains a fun place for families to visit.
Yufuin Floral Village will transport you into a fairy tale. The theme park is based on the Cotswolds area of England, which has some of the most beautiful and magical villages.
Each little house in the village features one character with thematic souvenirs and toys to buy. If you love Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, or Peter Rabbit, you will love this park.
Both kids and adults will love taking a Kanko Tsuji Basha ( horse-drawn carriage) around Yufuin.
The ride will take you to different sites and if you’re a history buff, you will be excited to see temples such as Bussanji and the Unagihime Shrine dedicated to Kunitachi no Mikoto. The entire trip takes about 50 minutes and is highly recommended for all visitors!
- Comico Art Museum– Designed by Kengo Kuma| Known for its new art form and center for artists
- Watakushi Museum– Over 100 pieces by artists connected to the Kyushu region
- Yufuin Kuso no Mori Artegio– For those who love music and art| Music motif throughout its art
- Kyushu Yufuin Mingei Mura– Dedicated to the folk crafts | Live demonstrations | Sake brewery
One of the best parts of vacation is trying new food and Yufuin won’t disappoint! The Bungo Beef Mabushi is one of the top dishes to try while in Yufuin. Cooked as a hitsumabushi dish, with Bungo beef from Oita Prefecture, this delicious meal will leave you full and satisfied.
Yufuin Kinsho Croquettes is a popular fried food, filled with potato and chopped Japanese beef, in Yufuin and often found at food stands.
For those with a sweet tooth, the purindora is a sweet treat filled with pudding and has a milky flavor. It also uses local spring water in its recipe. The P-roll, a rolled-up cake with a creamy filling, is another sweet treat that local children love.
Cheese! The city is full of a variety of cheese products from local farmers. At the Yufuin Cheese Factory, you can see cheese made into cheese candies, cheesecake, and a variety of other cheese products. You cannot leave Yufuin without trying it!
If you are looking for restaurants to visits, here are two recommendations:
- Yamashiroya restaurant is absolutely delicious. The menu has over 10 different courses to choose from and they additionally offer four different, private baths to choose from.
- If you would like a scenic place to eat, visit Sanshoro where you can see beautiful paddy fields. The Bungo beef, vegetables, and noodles here make for a terrific meal.
In order to get to Yufuin, you will have to make a little more effort, however, it is well worth your while. There isn’t a direct train route, but once you arrive at the Oita Station, you can take the JR Kyudai Line to the Yufuin Station which takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Some may prefer to drive or take a bus; each method is around 45 minutes from Beppu.
As an interesting side note, the Yufuin Station, built in 1990, is designed by Arata Isozaki to look like a train boiler and is made of cedarwood. The floor of the station is heated by a hot spring and also has a small art gallery.