In a tiny corner of Japan’s southwestern Kyushu Island, the little-known destination of Oita Prefecture awaits.
It’s a spot that boasts many natural beauty – think hot springs, hills and beaches – as well as a rich social and religious heritage. Oh, and mouthwatering meals.
We landed in the Prefecture’s capital, the city of Oita, just an hour or so after removing in Tokyo, and instantly felt like I’d stepped back in time.
It assisted your very first thing I did was dress yourself in a conventional kimono and walk around a samurai town (more on that later on).
But every thing we saw in Oita left me with the impression that I’d stumbled – in socks and sandals – into one particular uncommon and amazing destinations in which time has endured still and modern tradition hasn’t yet seeped into every element of life.
For the piece of authentic, untouched Japan – a long way off from bustling metropolis of Tokyo – stay a little while in Oita Prefecture and immerse your self (quite literally) in hot waters and (more figuratively) the many incredible places the spot is offering.
Here’s everything you can’t miss seeing while you’re there.
Kitsuki Castle Town
If you’ve constantly wished to take to dressing in a conventional kimono, here’s where you need to do it.
There’s absolutely nothing more authentic than shuffling (because the kimono is really tight you won’t be able to walk other way) through samurai houses, sipping green tea extract and admiring the littlest castle in Japan from under your paper parasol.
I’ll be sharing more about my kimono expertise in another blog post, but whether you like to dress the part or perhaps not, there are numerous reasons why you should see Kitsuki Castle Town.
They call it the sandwich city, because the elite residents when sandwiched in the working course from two plateaus that line either part associated with vendor road.
Some of those elite houses were owned by samurai families in Edo duration, and visitors today can take a look at breathtaking structures using their intricate old-fashioned gardens.
Plus the samurai houses, don’t miss the stunning Suya-no-saka and Shioya-no-saka slopes, which allowed access involving the warriors’ residences as well as the market street below.
United States Of America Jingu Shrine
While you drive towards United States Of America Jingu shrine, you’ll be greeted by hilltop lettering, similar to the Hollywood sign, announcing your arrival into USA. But there’s absolutely nothing American about it right here. United states of america Jingu shrine, integrated AD725 by emperor Shoumu, can be old-fashioned since it is grand.
This particular religious site is the head shrine for 44,000 smaller Shinto shrines (jinja) in Japan, and its particular influence is matched just by its beauty. Vivid orange buildings, carved with ornate numbers and symbols, are dotted through the entire paths that operate beneath canopies of lush green woods.
The primary shrine itself is indeed stunning so it’s regarded as a Japanese nationwide Treasure, additionally the views across the hills beyond are well well worth having a moment to appreciate.
While you’re here, always maximize the of use sound guide, which describes (in English) the history, symbolism and spiritual customs associated with this incredible shrine.
Hells of Beppu
The town of Beppu boasts the highest volume of natural hot springtime water in Japan, so the entire region surrounding the city is covered in onsen (or hot springs).
Many onsen are employed for washing (don’t try it without knowing the right way to onsen) nevertheless the Jigoku (or hell) onsens are much too hot to dip your toes into. The greatest of the hells is almost boiling at 98 degrees. So hot in reality, that eggs are cooked into the water and sold to guests as a treat.
Eight hells altogether are dotted throughout the hill part of Beppu, also it’s well worth visiting a few of them while you’re in your community. Although you can purchase a admission to see all the hells, some are quite far aside yet others just aren’t worth seeing. These Jigoku, however, are well worth stopping into admire!
Oniishi Bozu Jigoku (or shaven monk’s mind hell) actually series of mud ponds that bubble up and form breathtaking bands of dense grey and white mud. The bubbles by themselves are said to resemble monks’ minds, which will be exactly how this onsen got its name.
Chi-no-ike Jigoku, or bloodstream hell, gets its title from red clay that lines the bottom of the pond. The magnesium that offers the mud its color is reported to be best for skin, and thus visitors can find items created from this rich onsen mud.
Umi Jigoku, or ocean hell, gets its name through the vibrant aquamarine color due to minerals inside water. Thought to happen formed 1,300 years ago with a volcanic eruption, this is actually the deepest hell at 200m, and in addition one of the finest.
In summer time, the ponds surrounding Umi Jigoku are covered in giant water lilies, the leaves of which can support the fat of a small child – in the event that you don’t trust me, discover all photos on entrance!
Finally, don’t skip Tatsumaki Jigoku, or spout hell, a geysir that spouts every half hour approximately (call ahead to make sure you time it right) for five minutes roughly. Water can be so hot, and shoots so high to the air, that the rock barrier needed to be built to support the a large amount of water that erupts multiple times daily.
Usuki Stone Buddhas
Full of the hills of Usuki area lies an unbelievable sight that has become seen to be thought.
The Usuki Stone Buddhas certainly are a number of intricately carved statues that have miraculously survived for over 800 years, with specialists calculating them to own been carved since the entire year 794AD.
The rocks they’re carved into are actually volcanic ash that’s been hardened for centuries. You will find 61 statues as a whole, with 59 having being designated as nationwide treasures.
Dainichi Nyorai is reported to be top rock Buddha in Japan, and it is world-famous for their serene phrase. A few of the initial paint focus on the carvings has survived the centuries, but despite their amazing condition, nobody really understands why they certainly were created.
Some think that a master carver had been invited by regional Buddhists in Oita Prefecture to create a sculpture that they could see through the village, but nobody knows how long the carvings took or just how many individuals worked on them in general.
This air of secret is part of the appeal of the Usuki Stone Buddhas, and walking through caves in these remote cliff faces can be an experience you’ll always remember.
This famous temple is located in Bungotakada on Oita Prefecture’s Kunisaki Peninsula, which became referred to as a sacred spiritual ground some 1,300 years ago.
The temple it self is situated appropriate in the middle of the region’s highest hill, Futagoyama, plus it’s consists of a Buddhist temple and a shrine, both as breathtaking together another.
Before you decide to reach the temple hallway you might be greeted by two stone guardians, called Niouzo, that are thought to assist strengthen visitors’ legs. And you’ll need all the energy you can get the steps you’ll encounter right here, but don’t worry – it’s worth the climb.
The primary temple building possesses special importance for women attempting to conceive a child. Hopeful mothers-to-be will leave an providing here – a bag sewed with 33 various items of textile, 32 which should be donated by women with young ones of the very own, filled with rice, incense burners, candles and sake.
When expected in regards to the offering success rate, the reverend produced a photo record, which he proudly flicked through for us to see for ourselves.
Photos of happy, smiling children stared straight back at united states – all born after their mothers brought their patchwork case to Futagoji Temple.
After visiting the temple, walk up the slim rock steps carved to the part regarding the mountain to obtain the stunning shrine towards the top. Although you’re there, don’t skip the cave that’s carved behind the shrine building.
The overwhelming feeling within the wonderful leafy grounds is certainly one of peace. Whenever we visited there have been no tourists, and in reality no other site visitors whatsoever. The environment is so gorgeous and tranquil that you can’t assist but be awestruck.
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, Futagoji Temple is just a must-see in Oita Prefecture.
To learn more about these sights, and for plenty more a few ideas of items to see and do, visit the Oita Prefecture internet site.
As a result of Tokyo Metropolitan Government for inviting me personally to go to and experience a few of the amazing sights of Oita Prefecture!