Located on the east side of Kyushu, Oita Prefecture enjoys the warm climate of the south, with perfect conditions for onsen, citrus fruits, and sun-seekers. Oita City is the capital, with lovely beaches and mountain parks.
Just a short trip north, you’ll find Japan’s most famous hot spring resort town, Beppu. This place has more variety of baths than you’ll find anywhere, and seven special ones just for viewing known as the “hells” of Beppu. Aside from soaking yourself to bliss, you can also enjoy some traditional onsen cooking, which uses nothing but the steam from the springs to cook some tasty treats.
Despite Beppu’s fame, the mountain town of Yufuin to the east is often rated higher by onsen hipsters for being less crowded and even more charming. For first time visitors, it’s best to try both! After you’ve been boiled to perfection in some of Japan’s most mineral-rich waters, you can leadoff to do some exploring. The Kuju Mountain Range has the tallest mountain on the island, and some nice volcanic scenery.
Head further to the north of the prefecture, and you’ll find the Kunisaki Peninsula — a rural region with some impressive shrines and temples. Perhaps the best is Rakanji Temple, which houses over 3,700 stone Buddha statues.
By traveling down Oita, you’ll be following in the footsteps of millions of visitors from years and centuries past. After you’ve lost yourself in the soothing waters of an onsen, you’ll understand exactly why they came.