Oita, on the eastern coast of Kyushu Island, with its thousands of onsens collectively spurting the most geothermally heated water in Japan, is truly the nation’s hot spring capital and a must-visit for those in search of volcanically-heated healing.
Oita is a steamy cornucopia of all-things-onsen. Beppu City and Yufuin Town in particular, with their arrays of nutrient-rich waters, offer bathers far more than just a bath. A myriad of healing remedies can be found as enthusiasts are steamed bare, covered in mud or sand, or, as vanilla as it sounds, just sat, as nature’s therapeutic baths work their magic. Designated a “Place of Scenic Beauty” the eight hot spring “Hells” of Beppu, however, are just for looking at. You have been warned. Beyond baths, Oita offers seasonal festivals like the rambunctious Nagahama Shrine Summer Festival and an abundance of local cuisine including Bungo Beef and horse mackerel — and, unrelated, if you stumble across Mount Takasaki Monkey Park there’s a sign that reads: “If you look into the monkeys’ eyes they will attack.” Dark sunglasses or mace recommended.