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Kyushu is famous for its grand nature and unique culture. It is a popular tourist destination that will also be the site of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Here is a recommended itinerary for a 1-night, 2-day trip that takes you from Hakata Station in Fukuoka to Beppu in Oita.

What are Hakata and Beppu Like?

Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture is one of Kyushu’s largest cities. It is known for its wonderful food, including ramen and mentaiko (spicy cod roe). Hakata Station is about 7 minutes by train from Fukuoka Airport. It falls on shinkansen (bullet train) lines, making it easily accessible from Honshu (the main island of Japan).
Beppu in Oita Prefecture is a major onsen (hot spring) area with the largest number of hot springs and the largest output of hot spring water in Japan. It offers unique scenery with steam rising all around the area and a slight odor of sulfur permeating the streets.

[ Day 1 ]

On the first day, take a sightseeing train from Hakata Station to Yufuin Station in Oita. From there, rent a car to popular spots in Beppu, such as the aquarium and onsen town.

Board the Yufuin no Mori (Approx. 2 hours, 10 minutes)

The trip starts in Hakata Station. Take the Yufuin no Mori sightseeing train, which has a cozy interior with wooden floors and ceilings. From the windows of the cabins and lounge, you’ll see quintessential Japanese scenery, including a pastoral landscape, rivers flowing between mountains, and dense forests. One of the appeals of this train is the thoughtful hospitality, with cabin attendants coming around with information on major scenic spots when the train is near said spots and assisting with taking commemorative photographs. Original bento boxes and sweets are sold in the snack bar cabin. If you purchase the JR Kyushu Rail Pass on the JR Kyushu website, you can reserve a seat on the Yufuin no Mori.

One-way Fare (Hakata Station - Yufuin Station): 4,560 JPY/adult, 2,270 JPY/child *as of January 7, 2019

Board the Yufuin no Mori (Approx. 2 hours, 10 minutes)

1-1 Hakata-eki Chuo-gai, Hakata-ku, Hakata-shi, Fukuoka

Arrive at Yufuin Station (Approx. 20 minutes)

When you arrive at Yufuin Station and walk through the ticket gate, you will see a peaceful town nestled at the foot of the majestic Mt. Yufu. You may feel the urge to take a walk, but leave it for later and rent a car to get to Beppu.

Enjoy Bungo Beef Steak (Approx. 50 minutes)

When you arrive in Beppu City, go straight to Somuri Beppu Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant serves Oita beef, a brand of Wagyu that’s characterized by its fine marbling and texture that seems to melt in the mouth. In particular, the steak that can be enjoyed in the “Bungo Beef Sirloin Steak Course” (starts from 6,200 JPY (excl. tax)) is an outstanding item that the owner boasts is “the best in the world”. When you order the steak, it will be cooked right in front of your eyes. The steak is best eaten rare, so give it a try even if you usually have your steaks well done.

Hours: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)
Closed: Monday
Address: Kasaoka Shoten Bldg. 2F, 1-4-28 Kitahama, Beppu-shi, Oita

Enjoy Bungo Beef Steak (Approx. 50 minutes)

Kasaoka Shoten Bldg. 2F, 1-4-28 Kitahama, Beppu-shi, Oita

Enjoy a Walrus Show at Umitamago (Approx. 60 - 90 minutes)

The next destination is the Oita aquarium, Umitamago, where you can enjoy unique exhibits such as the Giant Circular Tank that houses approximately 1,500 sea creatures of 90 varieties and the Large Sea Coral Tank with colorful coral and fish.

The variety of performances that are held more than 10 times daily are not to be missed. The Umitama Performance, where you can see comical interactions between the talented walruses and their trainers, is particularly popular. Asobeach, which is a new type of beach where you can interact with animals, such as with dolphins swimming freely in a pool, is also recommended.

Hours: March - October 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, November - February 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed: January 30, 2019 (Wed) - January 31, 2019 (Thu)
General Admission Fees: 2,200 JPY/adult (high school and above), 1,100 JPY/elementary and junior high school student, 700 JPY/child (age 4 and above), Free/toddler (age 3 and below)
Address: Takasakiyama Shimokaigan, Oita-shi, Oita
*The Umitama Performance is held three times daily at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm

Takasakiyama Shimokaigan, Oita-shi, Oita

Encounter Monkeys at Takasakiyama (Approx. 50 - 80 minutes)

Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden near Umitamago is another a popular destination. It is a monkey reserve where wild Japanese macaques live, allowing you to observe their cuteness up close. The feeding time that occurs every 30 minutes is not to be missed! The sight of the macaques dashing toward their food is outstanding.

Hours: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (last entry 4:30 pm)
Closed: None
Admission Fees: 510 JPY/adult (high school and above), 250 JPY/elementary and junior high school student, Free/child (kindergarten and below)
Address: 3098-1 Kanzaki, Oita-shi, Oita

高崎山自然動物園

高崎山自然動物園

Encounter Monkeys at Takasakiyama (Approx. 50 - 80 minutes)

3098-1 Kanzaki, Oita-shi, Oita

Wander around Beppu’s Onsen Town (Approx. 60 minutes)

To end your first day, take a walk around the onsen town that spreads out in front of Beppu Station. It was once one of Japan’s leading red-light districts. The town retains the feel of those times, so why not walk around and enjoy retro atmosphere? There are many public baths in the area, so you can enjoy visiting them as well. In particular, Takegawara Onsen is an impressive onsen built in 1879 that is run by the city. It is a popular spot for taking photographs.

Wander around Beppu’s Onsen Town (Approx. 60 minutes)

16-23 Moto-machi, Beppu-shi, Oita

Notice the Photo-worthy Manhole Covers

Be sure to look down when walking around the town of Beppu! There are beautifully designed, colorful manhole covers that people love posting on social media. You can find them all around the city, including in front of Takegawara Onsen, and they come in a variety of designs. Watch out for them so you don’t regret missing them later!

Relax in the Onsen of Hana Beppu

Once you’ve enjoyed the sights, go to Hana Beppu, which will be your hotel for the night. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a Japanese-style space with tatami mats and bamboo flooring. The hotel has a total 30 rooms, some of which are Japanese style and others Western, but all of which have plenty of space. They are decorated to create a sense of gentle comfort so you can relax and rejuvenate from the day’s travels.

Dinner is Japanese course cuisine (called “kaiseki”) of food made with seasonal ingredients, primarily from Oita Prefecture. The hotel’s policy is to make everything by hand without using any pre-prepared foods. Expect outstanding dishes that are both tasty and beautifully plated to decorate the table.

Of course, the primary appeal of Beppu hotels are their onsen! The onsen at this hotel has sodium bicarbonate spring water, which is said to be beneficial for the skin. The water is soft, smooth, clean, and helps with bruises and sprains.
A specialty at this hotel is the micro bubble bathtub in the large shared bath for women. The water is filled with minute bubbles that are said to have great cleansing and moisturising benefits. It will feel almost as if you are soaking in a milk bath, so take your time and relax.

Address: 16-50 Kamitanoyu-machi, Beppu-shi, Oita

16-50 Kamitanoyu-machi, Beppu-shi, Oita

[ Day 2 ]

During the morning of the second day, experience the Beppu Jigoku Meguri (Beppu Hells Tour), a popular tour of seven spots called “jigoku” (hell). Afterwards, enjoy the local cuisine of Oita, ride a ropeway, and visit a safari park before returning to Hakata for dinner at a food stall.

Beppu Jigoku Meguri (Approx. 2 - 2.5 hours)

Jigoku, in this case, refers to openings in the earth where steam, hot mud, and hot water burst out. The hot water appears in a variety of colors thanks to the chemical reactions of the hot spring components. When it spurts out, it creates a mystical landscape that seems out of this world! There are seven jigoku, each with their unique features, and visiting them all constitutes the Beppu Jigoku Meguri. Following is an explanation of each jigoku.

Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Open all year
Combined ticket: 2,000 JPY/adult, 1,350 JPY/high school student, 1,000 JPY/junior high school student, 900 JPY/elementary school student
Inquiries: Beppu Jigoku Association Tel. 0977-66-1577
Free parking available

Beppu Jigoku Meguri (Approx. 2 - 2.5 hours)

559-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

1. Umi Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

First is Umi Jigoku - a mystic jigoku with beautiful cobalt blue waters that look deceptively cool, but are actually 98°C. When you get up close, you’ll see impressive scenery of steam wafting up. There are many tourist facilities on the grounds, such as souvenir shops full of local products and a gallery where you can learn about the history of Beppu Jigoku. There is also a beautiful pond with huge water lilies large enough for a child to ride on.

Address: 559-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

1. Umi Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

559-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

2. Oniishibozu Jigoku

Oniishibozu Jigoku is a jigoku that appears in a historic book published around 733. Hot grey mud bubbles that look like monk (bozu) heads keep surfacing and disappearing on the surface of this jigoku. The Oni no Takaibiki, where 100°C steam bursts out making a large sound like the snore (ibiki) of a oni (demon), is also worth seeing.

Address: 559-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

2. Oniishibozu Jigoku

Address: 559-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

3. Kamado Jigoku

Kamado Jigoku is an area with a concentration of jigoku, including one with hot amber-colored mud and another blue jigoku. There are several ways to enjoy them: there is one you can drink from, one you can use as a footbath, and another with steam that comes out when you blow tobacco smoke into it.

Address: 662 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

3. Kamado Jigoku

662 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

4. Oniyama Jigoku

Approximately 70 crocodiles are raised at Oniyama Jigoku using the heat of the onsen water. If you are there at the right time, don’t miss out on seeing the crocodiles being fed. You’ll see the exciting sight of crocodiles, which usually don’t move much, jumping for their food!

Address: 625 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita
*Feeding is at 10:00 am and 2:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and 10:00 am on Wednesday

4. Oniyama Jigoku

625 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

5. Shiraike Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

Shiraike Jigoku is a jigoku with bluish-white water that is 95°C in temperature. When you look closely at the source, you’ll see that it comes out clear, but as the pond’s temperature and pressure goes down, the color gradually changes. There is a tropical fish aquarium on the grounds that takes advantage of the hot spring water. You’ll be able to see unusual tropical fish, such as pirarucu from the Amazon rainforest and the omnivorous piranha.

Address: 283-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

5. Shiraike Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

283-1 Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita

6. Chinoike Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

The five jigoku introduced so far are within walking distance of each other, but the next two are in a location about six minutes away by car. One of them is Chinoike Jigoku, which spurts out piping hot red mud, appearing as if it is a pond of blood (chi-no-ike). It is said that the red mud from this jigoku is beneficial for ailments, such as those of the skin. It is sold on the grounds as Chinoike Salve (1,400 JPY (incl. tax)) and is a popular souvenir.

Address: 778 Noda, Beppu-shi, Oita

6. Chinoike Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

778 Noda, Beppu-shi, Oita

7. Tatsumaki Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

The last spot on the Jigoku Meguri is Tatsumaki Jigoku, located next to Chinoike Jigoku. The highlight of Tatsumaki Jigoku is the geyser that erupts at regular intervals with steam and water that are as hot as 105°C. The sight of the hot water erupting 30m into the air is stunning. Gelato and juices made from citrus fruit grown at Tatsumaki Farm are sold on the grounds, so be sure to try them while waiting for the geyser to erupt.

Address: 782 Noda, Beppu-shi, Oita

7. Tatsumaki Jigoku (National Site of Scenic Beauty)

782 Noda, Beppu-shi, Oita

Enjoy Regional Cuisine at Kotsukotsuan (Approx. 50 minutes)

Once you’ve enjoyed the Jigoku Meguri, go have lunch at the famous Kotsukotsuan, a restaurant featured on the MICHELIN GUIDE Kumamoto Oita 2018. The restaurant has a welcoming, retro atmosphere and serves a variety of local Oita dishes. One example is the Toriten Teishoku (700 JPY (excl. tax)). Toriten is chicken tempura, made by deep-frying flavored bite-sized chicken covered in a batter of flour, egg, and water. The toriten at Kotsukotsuan has the perfect balance of soft, juicy chicken and crispy batter. The restaurant also serves a variety of other dishes unique to the Oita area, such as “dango-jiru” and “Ryukyu (of yellowtail)”. All the dishes are so wonderful that you may have a hard time deciding what to eat!

Hours: 11:30 am - 10:30 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm) *Closed between 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm
Closed: Sunday *Open on Sunday and closed on Monday if Monday is a national holiday
Address: 3-8-19 Funai-machi, Oita-shi, Oita

3-8-19 Funai-machi, Oita-shi, Oita

See Fantastic Views from Beppu Ropeway (Approx. 80 - 120 minutes)

The next destination is Beppu Ropeway, one of the largest ropeways in western Japan. It runs every 20 minutes. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the top of Mt. Tsurumi, which is at an altitude of 1,375m. From the top, you can get a fantastic view that was chosen as one of the Top 34 Most Beautiful Spots in Japan by CNN. There are views of the town of Beppu, the surrounding mountains, and the beautiful ocean. The seasonal scenery, such as cherry blossoms and rhododendrons in the spring, colorful foliage in the fall, and silver frost in the winter, is also outstanding. Another popular spot is Kyushu Shochu-kan, a facility situated in front of the large ropeway parking lot that sells more than 500 different shochu (distilled liquor) labels from around Kyushu.

Hours: March 15 - November 14: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (last return trip at 5:30 pm), November 15 - March 14: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm (last return trip at 5:00 pm)
Closed: None
Return Fare: 1,600 JPY/adult (junior high student and above), 800 JPY/child (age 4 through elementary school)
Address: 10-7 Aza Samuhara, Oaza Minami Tateishi, Beppu-shi, Oita

10-7 Aza Samuhara, Oaza Minami Tateishi, Beppu-shi, Oita

Feed the Lions at African Safari (Approx. 50 - 60 minutes)

The last destination in Beppu is African Safari, a safari park where approximately 1,400 animals of 70 different species, such as elephants, giraffes, bears, and rhinoceros roam. You can explore the park in your rental car, but taking the Jungle Bus for observing the animals is recommended. On the Jungle Bus, you can experience feeding the animals directly! Seeing lions and elephants eating up close is exciting not only for children, but also for adults.

Hours: March 1 - October 31: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, November 1 - February 28: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed: Open all year
Entrance Ticket: 2,500 JPY/adult (high school and above), 1,400 JPY/child (age 4 through junior high school)
Jungle Bus Price:1,100 JPY/adult (high school and above), 900 JPY/child (age 4 through junior high school)
Address: 2-1755-1 Minamihata, Ajimu-machi, Usa-shi, Oita

Feed the Lions at African Safari (Approx. 50 - 60 minutes)

2-1755-1 Minamihata, Ajimu-machi, Usa-shi, Oita

From Yufuin Station to Hakata Station (Approx. 2 hours, 12 minutes)

When you’re done interacting with the animals, go to Yufuin Station and take the Yufuin no Mori again to return to Hakata Station. If you have time, take a stroll around Yufuin Station. There are many shops selling miscellaneous items and Japanese sweets, so you can enjoy some shopping and snacking!

Enjoy Yummy Hakata Foods at the Food Stalls

End your trip at a food stall! There are more than 100 food stalls in the city of Fukuoka where you can enjoy the Hakata specialty, ramen, as well as gyoza (dumplings), yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), and tempura. The Nakasu area near Hakata Station is especially famous for these stalls. Take a stroll around the streets in the evening and casually stop by any stall that catches your eye. The delicious Hakata foods that you enjoy in this extraordinary environment are sure to become lovely memories of your travels.

Don't Forget the Souvenirs

Don’t forget to buy some souvenirs at Hakata Station! A popular souvenir is Hakata Dorimon (starts from 560 JPY (incl. tax) for a pack of 5), a dessert that add elements of Western sweets to a common Japanese sweet called “manju” (steamed yeast bun). Consisting of milk-flavored dough packed with shiroan*, it is popular for its moist and elegant sweetness.
Another recommended sweet is Menbei (from 1,000 JPY (incl. tax) for 16 bags with 2 pieces in each bag), which is distinguished by its memorable packaging that has the Japanese character “me” (め) it. It is a spicy senbei (dried snack made with rice flour) with mentaiko and seafood blended in, and comes in various flavors, such as plain, mayonnaise, and skipjack tuna.

*Sweet bean paste made with white adzuki beans or white kidney beans

Be sure to refer to this article to plan your trip!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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