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A weekend in Oita | The Japan Times

A weekend in Oita | The Japan Times

OITA – Nestled alongside the east coast of Kyushu, the town of Oita is house to virtually half one million individuals, making it by far the most important city middle in Oita Prefecture. Nevertheless, except for the prefectural artwork museum, there’s little that’s distinctive about this coastal conglomerate, particularly when in comparison with bigger cities throughout the nation.

As an alternative, a visit to Oita is greatest utilized by exploring the in depth bounty of the prefecture, residence to mountain temples, secret scorching springs and the god of conflict.

Friday

Holy heights — morning

Virtually all transport hyperlinks to Oita reduce throughout the mountainous Kunisaki Peninsula. The space is greatest explored by automotive — and properly value doing, for it’s residence to a dozen or extra mountain temples.

Of those, Futagoji temple (Akimachifutago 1548, Kunisaki; www.futagoji.jp; ¥300) is probably the most spectacular. Situated near the summit of Mount Futago, the temple complicated includes quite a few buildings unfold throughout the broad and closely forested slopes of the mountain.

On the entrance to the temple, Mi Cafe — a small espresso stand — serves recent espresso and snacks. The adventurous can ascend the mountain to succeed in numerous secondary temple buildings (maps can be found on the ticket sales space) and all the best way as much as the jagged pinnacles on the summit.

For lunch, drive about 25 minutes to Ryoan Fukinoto (Tashibufuki 2365, Bungotakada; www.ryoanfukinotou.com), which serves a selection number of selfmade vegan soba noodles.

A very grand shrine — afternoon

There are few higher shrines to go to in Japan than Usa Jingu (Minamiusa 2859, Usa; www.usajinguu.com). It’s an distinctive shrine, devoted to the deified spirit of Emperor Ojin, aka Hachiman-jin — the god of warfare. The shrine is directly orante and austere, perched atop a hill overlooking the flats of the Usa area in the west of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

Usa Jingu continues to be patronized by the Imperial household, and it’s second solely to the Grand Shrines of Ise, Mie Prefecture, in its stature inside the Shinto faith. The shrine is separated from its environment on three sides by rivers and, inside, large boulevards lead previous the treasure home to the internal shrine, which has been designated a Nationwide Treasure and is surrounded by big camphor timber, a few of that are approaching a millennia in age.

Saturday

Bathing au naturel — for dawn

On the outskirts of the town of Beppu are hot-spring baths which might be unmanned, unvisited and free: Beppu’s secret onsen. The best to seek out is Nabeyama no Yu, although it isn’t a visit for the fainthearted.

As soon as in style with locals, the onsen was “closed” after a homicide occurred in the neighborhood (the killer was apprehended). As such, the street resulting in it’s plastered with indicators saying to not go to alone.

To succeed in the onsen, comply with the street towards Ebisu Shrine (Tsurumi, Beppu), however take the best fork into the mountains about 500 meters earlier than reaching the shrine. After the fork, comply with the street to the second gate after which stroll about 200 meters farther up the trail to succeed in the dual baths. The milky blue waters, straight out of the bottom, are extremely scorching, so make sure to prime up from the chilly water pipe earlier than you leap in. A little bit of an ordeal to get to, there’s no onsen fairly prefer it.

Buried alive — morning

Beppu has the most important discharge of onsen water of anyplace in Japan and, consequently, has myriad scorching springs, from these you’ll be able to bathe in, to the seven legendary (but one way or the other underwhelming) “hells” of Beppu — in case you are to go to at least one, it must be the blood-red pond of Chinoike Jigoku (Noda 778, Beppu; bit.ly/chinoike; ¥400).

When it comes to bathing alternatives, two onsen stand out from the pack, and each for a similar purpose: their sand baths.

Takegawara Onsen (Motomachi 16-23, Beppu; bit.ly/takeonsen; ¥1,030) is a big picket corridor close to the coast, the place you’ll be able to pay to be buried in heat sand. Don a yukata gown (offered) and step into the washing corridor, the place you’ll see what seem like shallow graves dug so that you can lie in. Standing guard over the pits are a couple of burly wanting ladies with shovels, who’ll promptly bury you beneath a foot or so of the nice and cozy sand. Maybe opposite to the outline, the sand baths are extraordinarily enjoyable and the uniform weight of the sand gives the look of present upon a planet with barely larger gravity.

A comparable destiny awaits on the Shoningahama sand baths (Shoningahamacho 9, Beppu; bit.ly/beppusand; ¥1,030), however this time on Beppu’s final remaining stretch of pure seashore, with a sea view overlooking Beppu Bay.

Steamy wonders — lunch

One other use of Beppu’s ample steam is for cooking. At Jigoku Mushi Kobo Kanawa (actually “Hell Steaming Trivet Workshop”; Furomoto 5, Beppu; bit.ly/steamcook), you’ll be able to order baskets of meals — from entire sea bream to eggs — after which prepare dinner them in deep vats of steam.

The employees on the restaurant will stroll you thru the method after which offer you a timer in order that you already know when your meals is cooked. It’s BYO drinks with a corkage cost, and the picnic benches and outside seating make it a perfect venue for a bigger group meal. Queues can get lengthy, nevertheless.

Kobo Kanawa isn’t the one proof of steam cooking across the city; most of the onsen have onsen tamago (boiled eggs) and steamed custard puddings on the market.

Monkey enterprise — afternoon

On the drive between Beppu and Oita, cease off on the Umitamago Aquarium (Kanzaki-uto 3078-22, Oita; www.umitamago.jp; ¥2,200) to see native marine life from round Kyushu. The aquarium has Japan’s largest indoor tank, crammed with lots of of various species of fish. Its jellyfish are a sight to behold, lit in a approach to increase the creatures’ spectral look.

Throughout the street from Umitamago is the Takasakiyama Monkey Park (Kanzaki 3098-1, Oita; www.takasakiyama.jp; ¥510). Take the (sluggish) monorail or stroll as much as the park, which is residence to 1,500 Japanese macaques. The monkeys are wild, however come to the park for feeding as soon as in the morning and as soon as in the afternoon. It’s stated to be fortunate if one of many monkeys runs between your legs.

Life and tradition — late afternoon

The open construction of the Oita Prefectural Artwork Museum (OPAM; Kotobukimachi 2-1, Oita; www.opam.jp/en; ¥300) was designed by architect Shigeru Ban and is among the metropolis’s few iconic items of structure. The museum hosts a everlasting assortment of work from quite a few native artists, starting from classical Japanese panorama work from the Edo Interval (1603-1868) to trendy Japanese and Western-inspired work. Particular exhibitions change roughly each three months.

Not removed from OPAM, subsequent to the ruins of the town of Oita’s Funai Fort, is the fashionable cafe-restaurant Hosun (Niagemachi 6-16, Oita; www.hosun-oita.jp). With an outside terrace that appears throughout to the fort, take a second to benefit from the metropolis with a heat drink or snack.

Drink, eat and be merry — dinner

Oita is house to a number of specialties that the native authorities is making an attempt to group collectively beneath the collective time period Bungo ryōri. These embrace toriten (tempura hen) and sekisaba and sekiaji (mackerel and horse mackerel, from the Saganoseki space of Oita Prefecture, scrumptious!). Native izakaya taverns serve up these dishes in abundance, and probably the greatest of those is Kamifusen Chuomachi (Chuomachi 2-15, Oita; www.kamifu-sen.internet), situated on the sting of Oita’s central purchasing road. The atmospheric restaurant, open until late, is a superb place to eat and drink your means by means of a menu of native delicacies.

Sunday

Geology rocks — morning

A 45-minute drive to the south of the town of Oita is the small farming village of Usuki. This unlikely nook of the world is house to the Usuki Stone Buddhas (Fukata 804-1, Usuki; www.sekibutsu.com; ¥540), that are considered the oldest present stone sculptures in Japan, carved someday in the late Heian Interval (794-1185) or early Kamakura Interval (1185-1333).

The statues have been collectively designated a Nationwide Treasure, and are grouped in 4 most important places. Although the man-made buildings across the statues considerably detract from their in any other case solemn and mystical prescences, they’re a captivating piece of historic Japanese historical past.

Farther south of Usuki is the Furen Limestone Cave (Notsumachitomari 1632, Usuki; www.furen-shonyudo.com; ¥1,000), a 500-meter tunnel into the guts of the mountain. The cave appears seldom visited — on this analysis journey, I used to be the primary buyer of the day at 11 a.m., two hours previous opening — and that is undoubtedly a superb factor as it’s a marvel to discover the caves in a small group. Initially unimpressive, the cave opens up into a number of chambers that grow to be more and more magnificent: The largest stalagmite stands 10 meters tall and is 16 meters in circumference.

That is the fifth installment of a month-to-month collection that may introduce every of the 12 host cities of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.Oita will host three video games for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in the 40,000-capacity Oita Stadium (Yokoo 1351, Oita, Oita Prefecture 870-0126). By public transport, catch the bus from cease No. Three at Oita Station sure for Park Place and alight at Oita Sports activities Park Higashi.

The journey takes roughly 45 minutes, after which you will need to stroll about 5 minutes to the stadium. Alternatively, from bus cease No. 6 at Oita Station, catch the bus sure for Park Place. Alight at Oita Sports activities Park Higashi and stroll 5 minutes.

Oita’s landmark lodge is the Lodge Nikko Oita Oasis Tower (Takasagomachi 2-48, Oita; okura-nikko.com/japan/oita/hotel-nikko-oita-oasis-tower; rooms from round ¥9,000), which is situated in the middle of the town, and inside strolling distance of each the Oita Prefectural Artwork Museum and the town’s central buying arcade.

Solely a 15-minute drive from Oita, Beppu has quite a few ryokan inns, with onsen baths hooked up. Yamada Bessou (Kitahama Three-2-18, Beppu; yamadabessou.jp; rooms from ¥19,000) provides a extra historically “Japanese” lodge expertise, with a number of outside onsen, and tatami mat rooms with futon bedding.

For a extra price range expertise, Beppu’s Asami Guesthouse Tabimakura (Hamawaki Three-9-32, Beppu; rooms from ¥Three,500) additionally provides tatami rooms with futons, at a fraction of the worth of a totally fledged ryokan.The metropolis of Oita could be accessed by way of Oita Airport, which is situated on the Kunisaki Peninsula, a 70-minute drive away. Oita and Beppu may also be simply accessed by practice from Fukuoka or Kitakyushu in the north of Kyushu, or from Kumamoto in the west.

Although there’s public transport all through Oita — notably in Beppu and Oita — to see the complete extent of the prefecture it’s best to lease a automotive. Quite a few automotive rental providers can be found from Oita Airport, or from automotive rental businesses situated in the cities of Oita or Beppu.