Venture about 20 km inland from Beppu to discover the quaint town of Yufuin, known for its onsen and its many traditional buildings, some housing cafés, boutiques and museums. Take in the beauty of Yufuin’s scenic lakes and towering mountains on a leisurely stroll along one of the town’s walking paths.
Encounter traditional Japan in Hiji, a 20-minute drive along the coast, which is home to such ancient sights as Sho’okuji Temple, the gardens of Tekizanso, and the Hiji Castle ruins. Cruises of Beppu Bay can also be taken from Hiji.
Remnants of the age of the samurai can be found throughout the island of Kyushu. The town of Kitsuki — a little further along the coast from Hiji, between Beppu and Oita Airport — is known as the region’s little Kyoto. With well-preserved buildings from the Edo period, narrow stone lanes, and a castle dating back to the 14th century, Kitsuki reveals ancient Japan to the curious traveller.
Roughly 35 km from Kitsuki, Usa Jingu is one of Shintoism’s most important shrines. First constructed in the 8th century, it is dedicated to Hachiman, a warrior god who is protector of Japan and its people. Over the centuries, more than 40,000 Hachiman shrines have been built to extend the deity’s protective care around the country, and Usa Jingu today remains the heart of this network. The main hall, with its captivating architecture, has been designated a national treasure.
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