Many people visiting Yufuin Onsen will likely use the train to travel to Yufuin. Designed by Arato Isozaki, a famous Japanese architect, Yufuin Station is an amazing spectacle. Stepping out of the station, visitors will then see Mount Yufu—the symbol of the city. Befitting of the grandeur view of the mountain, the city is spacious with a cozy atmosphere. This is because the entire city has been devoted since 1965 to create such a city.
Small shops, cafes, and gift shops line the sides of Yufumi Dori Avenue and Yunotsubo Kaido Street, which stretch out of the station. Take a stroll along these streets for a delightful experience. Unique to Yufuin Onsen are the many small and large galleries and museums scattered throughout the city. Tourists visit Kinrinko Lake just as much as they do the art galleries. Kinrinko Lake is a pure, fresh water lake that is hot throughout the year due to onsen water streaming into the lake. The steam that rises off the lake during autumn and winter create a fascinating scene that is sure to captivate viewers. Yufuin Onsen is also renown for its many high-class Ryokan inns that provide guests with a luxurious time. There are also more than 30 baths available at these Ryokan for non-overnight guests that provide a pleasant bathing experience for just a few hundred yen.
When you hear Yufuin, many of you will think about souvenir shopping in Yufumi Dori in front of the station or Yunotsubo Street. But you are not enjoying the town to the fullest. Yufuin has the magnificent nature. Walk off busy streets a little, and you will find the spacious fields and the majestic Mt. Yufudake in the background. Taking a walk or running in the refreshing air of the early morning is nice, or you may want to venture to climb Mt. Yufudake. Starting in the idyllic landscape, followed by the somewhat challenging rock-climbing toward the top, you will be greeted by the stunning vista over the Beppu Bay and Seto Inland Sea. The mountain trail has been affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake and some crack and loose stones still remain, but it will be fixed soon. For the time being, you may want to check in advance at the information center. After working up a good sweat in the nature, you will have the even better time in the hot spring.
Available only 40 pieces a day, the home-made caramel custard of Musoen is popular even among the locals. It goes back to 1976 – quite a long history. Made only with local ingredients and no additives, the caramel custard is carefully made with sparing no time. No wonder the pastry chef can only make 40 a day. Unlike the recently popular melting texture, it is known for somewhat bouncy mouthfeel. It might remind many people of the caramel custard their moms made for a treat long time ago. The caramel sauce is not overly sweet but deliciously bitter, great for grown-ups. It is a little big, making a great sweet for caramel custard lovers.
So many vehicles are available to go around the town of Yufuin. Rented bikes, rickshaws, and Scarborough (a sightseeing bus using a classic car) are among the few, but we definitely recommend the carriage. It runs not on the busy streets with many people but the idyllic roads with the rural scenery. Starting in front of the JR Yufuin Station, it takes you to Bussan Temple, Unaguhime Shrine and other scenic places then back to the station in around 50 minutes. Let the leisurely clip-clop of a horse show you the town. Operation hours are 9:00 – 16:00 from March to November, and 9:30-15:00 from December to early January. Leaves every 30 minutes. Service not available from early January to February, on rainy days and when the horses become sick. Please call for reservation. Yufuin Onsen Tourist Information (phone: 0977-84-2446)
Stepping to the side street from the busy main road, you will find the old-fashioned stonewalls and rice fields, showing the daily jobs of the local dwellers. In Yufuin, we have an ordinance to preserve the landscape so that Mt. Yufudake can be seen from anywhere in the basin.
Shopping is of course nice, but we recommend you to appreciate the nature right in front of you and spend a nice long time in the hot spring to enjoy Yufuin leisurely.