Yufuin is a popular hot spring resort near Beppu, another, much larger and more developed hot spring resort in Kyushu. Yufuin has many art museums, cafes, and boutiques, and many travelers come to the city just to stroll about town for the day, just like we did.
Yufuin is located on a flat river basin surrounded by mountains. The most prominent feature of Yufuin’s skyline is the twin-peaked Mount Yufu, which serves as the backdrop for many scenic views.
The area is quite rural and shortly after leaving the main walking route, travellers will come across the rice paddies and farmhouses that make up a considerable part of the town.
The ryokan and hotels of Yufuin are spread out around town, and not clustered along the main street like in many other resort towns. Instead, the main street is packed with cafes, boutiques and small museums, giving Yufuin an atmosphere more like a trendy shopping area than a traditional onsen town. That said, there is a large number of lodgings with hot spring baths, some of which open their baths to non-staying guests during daytime.
Another natural landmark of Yufuin besides Mount Yufu is Lake Kinrinko. The small lake is located at the end of the town’s main walking route, about a kilometre and a half from the station.
Walking paths surround the lake and there is a small shrine located at the lake’s southern end.
While I was making the itinerary, I was very undecided whether or not to sleep in Yufuin for 1 night. In the end, I decided to stay in Beppu for 2 nights instead and I have to confess that I am very happy I did that. Yufuin is nice, but it was overcrowded and way too touristy for my liking, especially coming from beautiful Kurokawa Onsen.
I have to say though, the autumn leaves were beautiful!
There are also a few public bathhouses that can be used by tourists. A few of these are ryokans too. These are some of Yufuin’s best baths:
Baien is located slightly above the town to the south and has large, attractive outdoor baths (rotenburo) for visitors. On clear days, the twin peaks of Mount Yufu are visible from the baths. The facilities are gender separated.
The views of Mount Yufu from Musoen’s outdoor baths are considered among Yufuin’s best. The ryokan is located slightly above town to the south and has large, attractive baths that are gender separated.
Located just a short walk from Yufuin Station, the Sansuikan offers some of the most easily accessible baths to tourists without private means of transportation. The large ryokan’s gender separated bathing facilities feature multiple outdoor and indoor pools, a scented bath and a sauna.
Saigakukan is located to the south of town, however, its baths are not quite as large, open and attractive as those of the Baien and Musoen. Nonetheless, they are quite nice and offer some views of Mount Yufu. There are gender separated indoor and outdoor pools.
Tsuka no Ma Ryokan
Tsuka no Ma (formerly known as Shoya no Yakata) is located on a hillside in the northern part of Yufuin where large steam clouds from hot spring sources can be seen rising into the air. The ryokan has large, gender separated outdoor baths with blueish-looking water, untypical for Yufuin. The location on the hillside allows for some views onto the town below.
Shitanyu Public Bath
The Shitanyu is a very simple, old-fashioned public bathhouse at the shore of Lake Kinrinko with two small pools. It is gender mixed without dedicated changing rooms and very limited facilities. The bathhouse opens towards the back, giving bathers a view onto some greenery.
We have actually not eaten in Yufuin, however, there are a number of eateries and shops where you can buy all sorts of snacks and sweets.
There is also a nice Snoopy Tea House if you are into it!
HOW TO GET AROUND IN YUFUIN
Yufuin can be easily explored on foot, and the majority of the town’s attractions are located along the 1.5 kilometre long main walking route between Yufuin Station and Lake Kinrinko. Walking the entire route takes between 20 and 30 minutes, not counting any stops along the way.
Yufuin’s baths are spread out all across the town, and many of them are difficult to access without private transportation. Bicycles are a convenient method for traveling to the more remote baths or for seeing the town quickly.
Taxi and rental car are other options for getting around.
RESOURCES ON MSM
TRAVEL IN JAPAN:
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HOW TO GET THERE
Kamenoi Bus operates 1-2 buses per hour between Beppu and Yufuin Stations. The one-way trip takes 50 minutes.
Train travel between Beppu and Yufuin often requires a transfer of trains at Oita Station. By local trains, the one-way journey takes about 80 minutes and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass.
By Kyusanko Kyushu Odan Bus
The Kyushu Odan Bus operates between Beppu and Kumamoto, stopping at Yufuin along the way. The one-way journey between Beppu and Yufuin takes one hour and is covered by the Sun Q Pass.
We took this bus from Kurokawa Onsen to Yufuin and then a train from Yufuin to Beppu.