Oita Prefecture

Oita Prefecture is located in Kyushu in Japan and is known as the hot springs capital of the country. The reason that many travelers flock here is to enjoy the traditional onsens in the area and in addition to these warm thermal baths you can also enjoy a selection of other engaging attractions. Some of these include amazing Buddhist temples as well as modem additions such as theme parks, and whatever you decide to do there is something to suit all tastes in Oita.

Many locals will tell you that Oita can easily rival bigger islands like Honshu in terms of attractions, but it is also a great place if you want to experience a rural side of Japan coupled with a laid back atmosphere. Often international travelers leave Oita off the itinerary, but if you are looking for one of the best prefectures to visit on a first time trip to Kyushu then Oita is a great choice.

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Getting to Oita:

By plane:

The main airport in Oita is Oita Airport which lies to the northeast of the city of Beppu. You can fly into Oita Airport from regional hubs such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya and both domestic carriers ANA and JAL have a range of flights here daily. You can also fly to Oita Airport from Seoul in South Korea. Once you arrive at Oita Airport you can travel to your onward destination in the prefecture using a range of buses. Some choices include airport buses to Beppu which take around 45 minutes and Oita which take around 60 minutes.

By train:

There are several different trains you can choose if you want to go to Oita Station which run here from all over Kyushu. Some choices include the Nippo Honsen which runs from Hakata to Oita as well as the Kyudai Honsen which runs up to the Saga Prefecture. You can also take the Hohi Honsen which runs from Kumamoto City in Kumamoto Prefecture.

By bus:

The good news if you want to travel to Oita by bus is that almost all of the main cities in the prefecture have a route to the city. One of the most popular routes is the one that runs between Oita and Fukuoka which takes around two hours.

By ferry:

If you are looking for a scenic way to get to Oita then you can take the Diamond Ferry service from Kobe and Osaka to Oita. The ferry stops in Matsuyama and Takamatsu and is an overnight sleeper service.

Tourist Attractions:

Beppu:

Beppu is one of the most famous cities in Oita and in fact in all of Japan. The reason for this is that it is widely considered to be the onsen capital of the country and you will find a huge number of traditional hot springs here. If you are not here for the onsen then you will still find a wide variety of attractions in Beppu such as visiting the Takasakiyama Monkey Park or checking out the walruses at the Umi Tamago Aquarium.

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Kuju Mountains:

The Kuju Mountains are one of the jewels in the crown of the Oita Prefecture and are part of the wider Aso-Kuju National Park. The mountains are a haven for anyone who likes hiking and are covered in a series of trails which let you take in the beautiful flora and fauna of Kyushu firsthand. If possible try to come here in October or November when the trees burst into a riot of color and some of the best points to take in the scenery in the Kuju Mountains include the Makinoto Pass and the Chojabaru Visitor Center.

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Kunisaki Peninsula:

Outside of Beppu lies the Kunisaki Peninsula which looks out over the Seto Inland Sea. The peninsula is made up of a selection of lush valleys which fan out from the mighty Mount Futago and you will find wild forests here as well as picturesque temples and shrines dotted all over the region. Some of the most famous to look out for include the Futagoji Temple and the Fukiji Temple as well as the Usa Shrine.

Shopping and Duty Free:

Wasada Town:

Located in Oita proper is Wasada Town which is a large traditional Japanese shopping mall which also has a sizeable electronics store called K’s Denki. If you want to pick up some Japanese fashions then head to Tokiwa in Wasada Town or you can check out some of the big name international labels on sale here.

Park Place:

Park Place is one of the newer malls in Oita and has everything you need for a fulfilling shopping experience in the city. The mall has a wide selection of national and international stores as well as a range of engaging attractions. These include a movie theater and this is considered to be one of the hottest spots in town for the youth of Oita who are looking for something to do at the weekend. You will also find some of Japan’s favorite chain-style eateries here in addition to the usual international coffee shops.

Deals:

If you really want to explore the best of Oita then it can be easier and cheaper to hire a car and drive yourself as public transport in some areas is patchy.
For anyone who wants to use the train systems in Kyushu, a JR Kyushu Pass is a great investment as it will cut down on the need to buy single and more expensive fares.

Recommended times to visit:

Many locals will tell you that the best time of year to visit Oita is from October or November. The reason for this is that the weather is usually stable and there is less chance or range and temperatures are pleasant. In the summer months the heat and humidity can be a little oppressive for some, but April and May are also good months to visit as these are also cooler and you can also enjoy the pretty cherry blossoms in full bloom.