Onsen Town Yufuin in Oita

Visiting onsen town Yufuin was part of my winter vacation 2012.

After leaving Nakatsu I arrived in Yufuin (湯布院) which is also situated in Oita Prefecture.
Oita is quite famous for onsen. Probably the most popular onsen town in Oita is Beppu.

Yufuin is maybe less popular, but still a lot of people come there for only one reason: RELAXATION!
With a population of roughly 11.000 it’s a really small town, featuring mountains, lakes and onsen. Yufuin was also the shooting location of the NHK drama “Kaze no haruka” (風のハルカ) .


Visited: December 30th 2011

Are you ready to spend a relaxing day in Yufuin with me?

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

After confirming when most shops would open (~ 9 a.m.) I left my hotel. It also had a small onsen, but nothing special. The nicer ryokan and hotels were all already booked out.
I recommend to reserve hotels, hostels etc. in advance especially during high season.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

This is the long shopping street that leads from Yufuin Station towards the mountains.
Right opposite to my hotel I ran into the best shop EVER, so I made a separate blog entry to introduce it.

The shop is really easy to spot: it’s on the right side if you come from the station and opposite to “Yufuin Burger”.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

And then it was shopping time! It was too cold to do anything else anyways.
Left: Totoro shop (also featured other Miyazaki Hayao characters)
Right: Cat shop (OMG!!! I could have spent hours there!)

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

The cat shop had 2 floors featuring various cat products (e.g. maneki neko). Obviously I couldn’t resist and bought a few things.
Also, in the 2nd floor there were a few REAL cats!! :D

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

All that shopping made me really hungry, so I had a little snack as it was still too early for lunch.
I love “takoyaki” and “okonomiyaki”, but I’ve never seen “bakudanyaki” so far. “Bakudan” means “bomb” and refers to the food in ball/bomb shape. smilies
It was super yummy!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

While you’re shopping you can also enjoy the awesome landscape (despite the cold).
And what would a onsen town be without the obligatory “onsen tamago“?

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Apart from all the small shops there are also a few art museums in Yufuin.
In this glass house they had a lot of awesome wooden artwork!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Awww, so cute! Is this the Japanese version of Herbie?

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Ice cream? No, thank you! I’m already freezing! XD

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Finally it was time for lunch! As it was so cold I went with a dango vegetable soup. The dango in the soup were kind of strange … similar to mochi in soup, I guess.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Warmed up by my lunch, I continued to explore Yufuin.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Kappa lady and more beautiful landscape.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

There were a lot of tourists around the lake that had some hot spots where you could warm up your cold feet or hands. :D

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Yufuin: truly a onsen village!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

A cute Monchhichi shop.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

And then it was time for a coffee break.
I’ve seen everything I wanted. I shouldn’t have planned a full day for Yufuin, it’s not really necessary! You can easily use this as a short side trip from Oita or Beppu!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Took some more photos on my way back to the station.
Yufuin Burger: looks yummy, too bad that I didn’t have the chance to try any.
Remember, the cute cat sale booth is right opposite of that burger shop!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Aww, now that’s cute!

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

And this is Yufuin Station. Quite small, but with a nice waiting hall.

Yufuin, onsen village in Oita Prefecture, Kuyshu

Then it was time to leave. This time I was heading to Miyazaki.

All in all I have to admit that I didn’t really like Yufuin all that much.
However, that’s just because I LOVE sightseeing more than relaxing and shopping. smilie
Also, it’s definitely not a place where you should go alone – but I didn’t have a choice! ^-^;
Apparently there were mostly couples, families and female university students with their friends. I also saw a few foreigners.

My next entry will be about: Takachiho (Miyazaki Prefecture)
That was one of my absolute highlights, so I hope you’re looking forward to the post!

Thank you for reading!~smilie


  • a cat store!! too bad there weren’t pictures of the products but lucky you for the personalized item :) it is the first time i’ve heard of dango soup, was it sweet or something? i miss reading about your random food blogs (way back in LJ) ~ i do hope you post some here too :shiawase:

    the place looks really peaceful~ it must be so relaxing for you! till your next adventure!! :heart:

    • Hello! ^-^
      Don’t worry, eventually I will post photos of the mentioned items! :D
      It’s not sweet, it’s salty!
      Oh yah .. I guess I just got way too used to Japanese food which is why I don’t really post about it anymore.
      Thanks, I’m glad you liked them. We’ll see, maybe I start posting about food again! :thumbup:

    • In Gifu? Really? Maybe I went there, can’t remember right now. :D
      I know, but I’m not an “onsen hopper” really. I only went to the one in my hotel!
      Sorry! :sweatdrop2:

  • That’s definitely the quiet mountain village..! But I love scenic places like that :D
    The soup looked really good too..! I’m so hungry now~! :happy:
    It must’ve been really cold though :sweatdrop2: I’m surprised you did so much exploring. I probably would have given up :sweatdrop: lol

    • Oh, usually I freeze easily.
      Just when I’m traveling it seems like my body switches to a different “super” mode and so I can easily withstand the cold.
      I stayed outside with the snow monkeys in Nagano for many hours last year for example … (gotta post some photos of that soon, too). :D

  • Actually Yufuin is on my must-visit list for Kyushu ;P (lol I’ve made travel lists of each Japanese Island/region to hopefully use in the future :ehehe: )
    It looks like such a cozy town, and traveling around one could need some breaks to go to onsens and stuff :D
    That cat shop looks awesome, and I’ve always wanted a huge Totoro plush! It does indeed seem like a great place to go shopping as well.
    Also, bakudanyaki looks very delicious :fan:

    • It is?
      Hm, like I said I wouldn’t recommend going there alone. It’s nice, but it would be so much better to go WITH somebody! Just saying! ;P

      Actually they had nice Kiki’s delivery service blankets and I was sooooo tempted to buy one (esp. because it was so cold all day long).

  • If I wasn’t living in Okinawa, I’d want to live in Kyushu I think. I’ve had the good luck to tour there twice during the winter with my junior highs’ school trips, but I really need to make it back up for a more leisurely trek. So many amazing places to see there. Thanks for another unique view!

    • Wow, you get to go on school trips with your students? Lucky!~ :music2:
      Yes, Kyushu has a lot of awesome places to visit.

      If I ever get a chance to visit Okinawa (one of the very few places in Japan I haven’t been to yet!!!), I’m sure to ask you tons of questions, be prepared! *g*

      • I lived on a rather small island for 3 years (only 500 people), and so I got to know my students pretty well. I went with them twice as the semi-official photographer, though I took vacation time and paid my own way. I’ll probably get around to posting pictures on it, but since I can’t post pictures of the kids I’ll be a bit limited.

        There are a lot of amazing places to see in Okinawa! There are still many places I haven’t explored yet ^_^ Hope you get a chance to see it!

  • Lovely photos, as usual!

    I am a little late visiting this post, as I seem to have missed it earlier. I went to Yufuin around 2 years ago, we went there on a day trip from Beppu.

    I went to exactly the same places you did. I was with 5 other people, but I stopped at the cat shop, the others went ahead, and I didn’t see them till I ran into a couple at lunch. It was warm [late October], so we ate outside under an umbrella, served by a young man who was the spitting image of Akanishi Jin. He must have wondered why this gaijin was staring at him. Lol

    We were supposed to stay till 5, but were quite ready to leave by 3. I agree that there isn’t too much to see or do unless you are an onsen fanatic. When I returned to Kyushu last year, I skipped Yufuin. I think actually that Kinosaki is a much prettier town to go for onsen.

    • Thank you! :D

      Yeah, I think Yufuin might not be worth a second visit.
      Oh, wowow! Why didn’t I get a Johnnys-type waiter?? XD
      Have you been to Kinosaki yet? If so, do you have photos? :camera:

  • Yes, I was in Kinosaki in 2010, though as I was there in late August, it was hot and going to the onsen was less appealing. I thought it a lovely old town and enjoyed walking around in it. If you go to:
    there are some very nice winter photos of the place. I took the summer version, of course, but they are less picturesque.

    We stayed in an old traditional ryokan, where the friendly owner and an old housekeeper insisted on dressing the ladies [3 of us] in summer yukatas for dinner [and going to see some traditional local theater afterwards]. I am short, so it took quite a bit of folding and tying to get the length right!

    • Wow, thanks for the link, those photos look quite inviting!
      Sounds like you had a lot of fun!! :D
      Luckily I don’t have that problem. At first I was worried that they might be too short, but luckily they’re all soooo long, that I never ran into problems. :music2:

  • We are planning to go to Japan in December this year. Yufuin is on our itinerary after Hiroshima, but after reading your blog that it’s not worth going then I might have to change to another location. First, I was thinking of staying one night in Hiroshima from Koyasan then head to Yufuin for one night then to Kyoto. Where would you suggest after a night in Hiroshima? We stayed on Miyajima Island before and loved it, but we want to go somewhere we haven’t been this time. What’s Beppu like?

    • Hello Panda!
      First of all thank you for your comment and sorry for the late reply.
      As Simone mentioned I didn’t have any access to the internet.

      If I had to choose between Beppu and Yufuin I’d definitely choose Beppu!
      However, it’s a bit far from Hiroshima. It really depends on what you want to see.
      From Hiroshima you have a LOT of awesome options!
      Fukuyama with its caslte is very close and from there Onomichi is very near by local train.
      Okayama is absolutely beautiful, but it’s almost a waste to spend only ONE day there. You’d need more time.
      Very close to Hiroshima is also Iwakuni with a very famous bridge and small castle in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

      If you need some inspriation, send me a message and I’ll provide you links to my old blog with lots of photos and travel reports of all the mentioned spots! :)
      I didn’t have time to upload them here on my new blog yet.

  • Since ‘zoomingjapan’ is not available right now, I will give you my suggestion [having been to all these places]. I think Beppu is fun. while it is touristy, still it is interesting because of all the colored hot springs. Our taxi driver there suggested it was like a miniature Yellowstone park.

    Beppu, is of course on Kyushu, a beautiful and interesting island. But it is a bit far from Hiroshima. I would like instead to suggest Matsuyama, on the north-west coast of Shikoku, and easy to reach from Hiroshima. There is a very interesting castle, and a famous old onsen, Dogo Onsen. I have stayed at a nice business hotel, actually across from the Dogo, the Patio Dogo. A street car takes you from there to the castle. You can wear the hotel’s yukata to go to the Dogo Onsen, and you see groups of people in various hotel robes, each with their little basket of necessities, chatting near the entrance.

    You can Google Matsuyama and look at the infoand photos on the japan-guide page, of course.

  • I was deciding whether to visit Yufuin and then I chanced upon your blog. I’m definitely going now!! However I’d like to know how long is the walk from Yufuin station to Lake Kirin? The shopping street seems quite long and I have only less than 4 hours there so I’m trying to plan my time. Thanks in advance!

    • Hello Maria!
      Don’t worry, just like Simone already mentioned you won’t have any time issues at all – as long as you don’t stop at every single shop in the shopping street.
      I’d suggest to first walk towards the lake and see what you want to see and on your way back you still can stroll slowly through the shopping street.

      As I mentioned in this blog post, I didn’t need a whole day for Yufuin at all.
      The shopping street is only a few min. walk away from the station (I’d say about 5 min.), so no worries!

      I hope you’ll have a great time there! :thumbup:

  • Maria, ‘zoomingjapan’ has poor access to the internet right now, so I will answer your question.

    Yufuin is a very small town, the shopping street is not that long and you will have quite enough time to look it over. Many of the shops do not require more than a glance. It is an easy walk to the lake and around part of it. We got there at 10 am. By 2 pm I had seen everything more than once, and had a sit down lunch at a cafe. Then I waited for the others at the station. Even the die hard shoppers were done within the hour, and our poet had written some haiku by the lake!.

  • Hello Simone, thank you for your reply! Okie I shall just stick to 4 hours at Yufuin! All the pictures looked so good I thought I needed to spend a day there. Love that cat shop! Looking forward to the trip in May!

  • Thank you Zoomingjapan and Simone. We decided not to go to Yufuin or Beppu anymore. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and found another onsen town called “Kurokawa” It looks really nice. So we are going to stay there for two nights. We’ll be staying for two nights in Hiroshima before we head to Kurokawa onsen.

    Thanks..This is a great blog.

  • Great writeup…just visited Yufuin during the last week May. Peaceful onsen town. Found that a number of the Onsen allows day use for less than 1000yen. So if you are going there for a day trip, do plan for a bit of onsen hopping to truly enjoy what Yufuin has to offer.

    The outdoor onsen at Musuoen was scenic and the water temperature was just right. Hopefully will be able to try the others eg Baien on my next visit.

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