Located at the foot of Mount Yufu, Yufuin Onsen is one of the most popular resort towns in Japan. It contains a wide range of traditional ryokan and modern hotels where you can bathe as a day visitor or an overnight guest.
Stay overnight to better discover the town, which has a variety of trendy cafes, boutiques and small museums.
Yufuin is a less developed alternative to onsen resort town Beppu — just ten kilometers away in central Oita Prefecture. It is accessible by car, bus, and train.
Train: From Oita Station, take the JR Kyudai Line to Yufuin Station — an hour long journey covered by the Japan Rail Pass. From Beppu Station, take the JR Nippou Line to Oita Station and transfer to the Kyudai Line to Yufuin Station (1 hour and 15 minutes).
Because the train doesn't take a direct route, it is faster to drive from Beppu to Yufuin (40 minutes) or take a bus (50 minutes).
As Yufuin Hot Springs is located on a flat river basin surrounded by mountains, the area can be misty, particularly on winter mornings. After leaving the main streets of the town, you will soon see rice paddies, farm houses and tranquil scenery.
Explore beyond the main areas to soak up the rural atmosphere and slow pace of life. Lake Kinrin can be found at the end of the town's main street. There are walking paths around the lake as well as some public baths, shops and cafes.
Unlike other resort towns, the onsen are spread throughout the town in three different areas: Yufuin, Yunohira, and Tsukahara.
Yufuin Hot Springs have the second-highest water flow of all onsen in Japan, and are known to be beneficial for neuralgia, myalgia, arthritis and fatigue.
The water found at Yunohira Hot Springs has long been used to help treat gastrointestinal disorders. The area has a stone-paved road dating back to the 17th century when the area first became popular.
Recognized as one of Japan’s three major medicinal baths, Tsukahara Hot Springs has an acidic pH of 1.4 and is thus effective in treating skin conditions. This onsen has been popular since the 8th century.
You can drink the water at some of the hot springs, which is beneficial for diabetes, gout, constipation and obesity.
Yufuin Station has more than just transportation options on offer. There's a footbath behind the first platform and an art hall that serves as a meeting area as well as an art gallery.
There is a Hot Springs Tourist Information Center and a bicycle rental shop at the station. Horse-drawn carriages and classic British cars are also available for rent at the station, offering a touch of nostalgia to the quaint town.