Beppu, the Onsen Capital
A popular destination among the Japanese since its founding in 1924. With thousands of hot springs, Beppu welcomes visitors throughout the year who come to lounge in the volcanic waters.
Two hours by train from Fukuoka and six hours from Tokyo, the sea air, slightly fragrant from the sulfurous hot springs pleasantly refreshes visitors who set out to see the Eight Hells of Beppu: a tour on foot winding between different open hot springs loaded with volcanic waters giving off thick steam. Fortunately, this infernal heat also paves the way for many other activities, including cooking eggs, immersed directly in the pools for an interesting savory taste.
Heading down towards the sea, the more curious adults (remember that in Japan one is a minor until age 20) can stop at the sex museum. A short walk away, still heading toward the beach, stands Beppu Tower. Impossible to overlook and a landmark in the urban fabric, it is home to a panoramic observatory overlooking Beppu from a height of 60 meters. To eat between visits, restaurants around the city offer the local specialties: seafood and hot spring-steamed dishes (jigokumushi-ryori) of vegetables and fugu, a poisonous fish as delicate as it is dangerous.
Quaint ryokan and thousands of Buddhas
An hour and a half train ride from Beppu (50 minutes by bus), Yufuin is another famous spa of the region, at the foot of Mount Yufu and found along the banks of the river of the same name. Packed with luxurious ryokan, Yufuin is a little more chic and discreet than its popular and lively neighbor.
Usuki Harbor, which boasts old houses in its samurai neighborhood dating from the Edo period (1600-1868) as well as famous stone Buddhas of the Heian period (794-1185), is also an hour by train from Beppu.
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