Yufu (由布市) is a city in Oita Prefecture. The northwest section of the city contains the Yufuin (湯布院) district, which is famous as one of the best hot spring resorts in Japan.


You say Yufu, I say Yufu

You'll see Yufuin written as both 由布院 and 湯布院. The names are pronounced the same, but the "湯" (hot water) of the second version is not just a marketing trick: in 1955, what was then the town of Yufuin (由布院) merged with nearby Yunohira (湯平), keeping its name but adopting its smaller neighbor's kanji as a memento.

A hot spring town with a difference, Yufuin's claim to fame is not just lots of hot water (the town claims the second highest outflow in all Japan), but its arty vibe with avant-garde galleries, traditional crafts and fancy cafés. Consciously planned on European spa towns, there's a frisson of fashionable foreignness to it all and the town is often compared with Karuizawa, the favorite retreat of Tokyo's elite. Add in a scenic location in a lush green valley, with steam bursting from the hillsides and the double-peaked Yufu-dake (1584m) volcano overlooking it all, and it's not hard to see why Yufuin welcomes more than three million visitors annually.

Tourist information center

The Yufuin Hot Springs Tourist Information office (84-2446; 9 AM-7 PM) inside the train station has some information in English, including a detailed walking map.

Get in

Take a foot bath while waiting for the train

Yufuin is located in the center of Oita Prefecture, 25 km from its comparatively downmarket spa town twin Beppu. It can be visited as a day trip from Beppu or Fukuoka, or en route to Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture.

On arrival in Yufuin, you can drop your bags at the Yufuin Chikki shop opposite the train station, which will deliver them to any hotel in town (and later back to the station) for ¥500 a pop. It also functions as a baggage storage service for ¥300-500 per bag per day.

By plane

The nearest airport is in Oita, 55 minutes away by direct bus (6 times/day, ¥1,550). Oita has flights to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Seoul. The nearest major airport is Fukuoka, which also has direct buses to Yufuin (1:45, 11 times/day, ¥2,880).

By train

The Yufuin no Mori train

Yufuin Station (由布院駅) is the main train station and serves as a central point for starting off in Yufuin. The best way to arrive is by the JR Yufuin no Mori limited express, a destination in itself with retro-styled wood and brass fittings and a buffet car with panoramic windows book ahead. The train runs 3x/day to/from Fukuoka (2:15, ¥4,550) and once daily to/from Oita (50 min) and Beppu (1 hour). There are additional direct services on the more ordinary Yufu DX and Yufu expresses, and cheaper local trains (change in Kurume required).

By car

Get off at the Oita Expressway Yufuin Interchange. In peak tourist seasons, the most direct route to Kinrinko Lake (Route 206) often experiences severe traffic. Due to this, it's advisable to detour to Minami Yufu and head toward the center of Yufuin instead. Specifically you'll want to get off the Interchange, take Route 210 towards Oita, and get on Route 11 in Minami Yufu.

Due to Yufuin's high elevation, you're required to use chains on the highways and mountain roads when there is snow.

By bus

Yufuin's major bus hub is the Yufuin Ekimae Bus Center (由布院駅前バスセンター), tucked away behind a souvenir shop in front of the station.

Get around

Public transport options in Yufu are limited. For the average visitor, the most useful is the roughly hourly Kamenoi bus route 36, which serves the train station, Yufumi-dori, Yunotsubo and the start of the Mt. Yufu hiking trail (由布登山口) on its way to Beppu and back.

By train

The JR Kyudai Line lazily loops through the city, but aside from Yufuin station itself does not come close to the hot spring area.

By horse or rickshaw

Horse carriages (辻馬車 tsujibasha) leave Yufuin station every 30 minutes from 9AM to 4PM. The tour takes about 50 minutes and costs ¥1500. Rickshaws (jinrikisha) also operate around Yufuin station and Lake Kinrinko.

On foot

Yufuin can fairly easily be covered on foot. It's a leisurely 1.5-km stroll from the train station to Lake Kinrinko via Yufumi-dōri and Yunotsubo Kaidō. The surrounding area boasts many beautiful rural landscapes, and there are many walking routes you can take through them. The Tourist Information Center publishes maps that you can refer to as you walk.


Lake Kinrinko


Mount Yufu
Yunohira Onsen

Hot springs:



Onsen of the Musōen hotel

Go next

Routes through Yufu

Kurume Hita  W  E  Oita

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.