Yufuin, a quaint town nestled in the picturesque valley below Mount Yufu-dake in Japan’s Ōita Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, is a name not many people are familiar with. Yet, while located less than an hour’s drive from Beppu (the country’s onsen capital) Yufuin is a picturesque, lesser-known gem, an alternative if you want to get away from tourists.
We discovered this beautiful town, with its scenic lakes and rivers flowing through its valleys, during our Kunisaki and Yufuin Walk with Walk Japan. Wandering along the streets of the Japanese town, one will find them lined with small shops selling hand-made souvenirs, local pastries, and traditional Japanese inns boasting their own onsens — popular with both locals and tourists.
In fact, the hot springs in the region are known to be rich in carbonates and different minerals that are beneficial to health and skin conditions. The town is abundant in spring water, which gushes at about 38,600 litres per minute; making it the third largest volume in Japan.
While the famous Yufuin Onsen located at the foot of Mt. Yufu is a good place to start, the town is also home to a wide range of both traditional ryokans and modern hotels. Here, some of the best onsen resorts overlooking breathtaking views of the town and its surroundings.
(Main image credit: Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization)
Yufuin Onsen Mountain Hotel Musou-en, located on high grounds of the Yufu Basin, is a traditional ryokan with an 80-year old history. While it boasts origins as a private villa, it is now one of the most popular onsen resorts in Yufuin.
Guests stay in one of the well-appointed cottages, each offering their own private hot spring baths, in addition to open-air hot spring baths framed by the lush forest.
Ryu no Hige is an inn hidden away in a quiet forest — a popular spot for those looking to get away from the bustle of Yufuin (not that there’s much). The beautiful accommodation on this property consists of separate dwellings with covered outdoor baths, a rarity in the Ōita Prefecture.
One highlight here is its hot springs that overlook all-encompassing views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as its culinary offerings, which have garnered glowing reviews.
For those seeking to indulge in the finer things in life, check out Hanayoshi, nestled at the edge of the mountains. Here, you can enjoy magnificent views of Yufu’s landscape and its surrounding mountains, especially from spots like its open-air bath or lobby.
Accommodation here ranges from standard western-style rooms to luxurious twin-room villas with private open-air baths, overlooking the valley and beyond.
One of the best-known onsen resorts in Yufuin, Tamano-yu is an inn established in 1953, with origins as a sanatorium for Zen priests. It is renowned for its outstanding hospitality, beautiful gardens, and fresh and authentic cuisine.
The property is located in a 2.5-acre forest dotted with 17 guestrooms built in the traditional Japanese style, most equipped with an authentic Japanese living room, a western twin bedroom, and a private spa bathing room.
The idyllic Kamenoi Bessou, located in the heart of Yufuin’s hot spring district, was originally built in 1921 as a country house of Aburaya Kumahaci, a great merchant of Beppu.