DAY 4, 湯布院 (YUFUIN)
I’ve moved to 湯布院 (YUFUIN) where has the 2nd largest yield of ONSEN as well as the number of spring source following 別府 (BEPPU). It took only 35 minutes by car from BEPPU, and the town is located west side of 由布岳 (YUFUDAKE Mountain).
Since 湯布院 (YUFUIN) is located at the foot of 由布岳 (YUFUDAKE Mountain), I always looked for YUFUDAKE wherever in YUFUIN Town I was at. The existence of YUFUDAKE in YUFUIN is just like Mount Fuji in Japan. I felt that the shape of YUFUDAKE really looks like the shape of “山 (YAMA / mountain) in Chinese character. It has gentle-sloping shape and looks really beautiful.
Read the article related to Mount Fuji: Driving with Mt. Fuji view
The number of tourist visiting YUFUIN was decreased after the big earthquake in the 1970’s, but the owners of ONSEN RYOKANs and a lot of local residents have made great effort to enhance the tourism and it made people come back there. Today, even after 40 years since then, the town is still very lively and active with a lot of tourists. Since it’s geographically located closed to China and Korea, there are a lot of tourists from there as well.
YUFUIN is full of nature and also there are a lot of arts in the town. You can find the attractiveness of its nature and arts just by walking around the town, and it is also interesting to ride 辻馬車 (TSUJI BASHA / fiacre / horse-drawn cab) or スカーボロ (Scarborough / red classic bus) to look around the town.
ゆふいん七色の風 (YUFUIN NANAIRO NO KAZE)
This time I’ve stayed at “ゆふいん七色の風 (YUFUIN NANAIRO NO KAZE)” in 湯布院温泉 (YUFUIN ONSEN). It’s located on a hill a little away from the central district of the town where took 8 minutes by car from YUFUIN Station.
I’ve decided to stay here because I wanted to stay away from the noise of the town and also I wanted to keep viewing the beautiful scenery of YUFUDAKE Mountain. The amazing landscape of beautiful YUFUDAKE is visible from the room.
This breath-taking landscape is also visible from the outdoor bath. How relaxing! The attractiveness of outdoor bath is its scenery, thus usually it is really recommended to take outdoor bath before it gets dark. Most of the ONSEN hotels in Japan set their check-in time at 3:00pm so that it’s recommended to enjoy outdoor bath after check-in till dinner time to fully enjoy the scenery.
The spring quality here is weak alkaline simple spring. The water temperature at source is 71.7℃. It’s a gentle alkaline ONSEN at pH7.9. Since the water temperature at source is high, they add water and circulate water to cool it down, thus it’s not 源泉掛け流し (GENSEN KAKENAGASHI / free flowing ONSEN springing out directly from the source). Since it’s a huge hotel with more than 50 rooms as well as ballrooms and meeting rooms, I guess the yield of ONSEN might not be sufficient to provide GENSEN KAKENAGASHI. There are also tennis court, table tennis room, and karaoke room as well.
I spent very slow time here bathing this outdoor bath with viewing overwhelming scenery of YUFUDAKE. Since I kept moving and bathing in many ONSENs in BEPPU for past 3 days, now it’s time to rest. There’s a word “湯治７日ひとめぐり (TOUJI 7 days hitomeguri)” which means the way of bathing in ONSEN in 7 days as one round. It recommends to bathe in once on the 1st day, twice on the 2nd day, 3 times on the 3rd day, don’t bathe on 4th day, 3 times on the 5th day, twice on the 6th day, and once on the 7th day. This means, it’s better to take a rest (not to bathe) on the middle day. I bathed in ONSEN today as well, though… But I did it very slowly and calmly.
金鱗湖 (KINRINKO Lake)
The name of this KINRINKO Lake comes from its scenery which looks shining and beautiful when morning sunlight reflects on the scales of the fish in the lake. This KINRINKO Lake is one of the most major sightseeing spots in YUFUIN. Although it’s a simple lake, surrounding nature is very beautiful and there’s nice promenade so that it’s really relaxing to take a walk. If you are lucky, you may be able to see the beautiful fog on the lake in the morning.
Since I reached here around 11am after having breakfast and check-out at the hotel, I couldn’t see the beautiful fog but the power of fresh green in the surrounding nature was great and I kept breathing very fresh air in and out with walking around there.
There’s “下ん湯 (SHITAN’YU)” near this KINRINKO Lake. This is the public bath house with nice thatched roof. It has an outdoor bath and an indoor bath without wall, which is mixed bath where men and women take the same bathtub. Honestly, most women must hesitate to bathe in it… Actually, the mixed bath is one of the traditional style of ONSEN which has a long history. When commodore Matthew Perry landed 下田 (SHIMODA) for the opening of Japan, he pointed out this culture of mixed bath like “what a culture this is!”, though…
Read the article related to 下田 (SHIMODA): Walking around historical SHIMODA Port
Near this KINRINKO Lake, there’s the representing ONSEN RYOKAN in YUFUIN “亀の井別荘 (KAMENOI BESSO)”. 油屋熊八 (KUMAHACHI ABURAYA), who is called the father of BEPPU, developed YUFUIN as the annex area of BEPPU and he opened this KAMENOI BESSO as the annex of KAMENOI HOTEL in BEPPU to invite some important guests from all over Japan and outside Japan. Even today, this KAMENOI BESSO is one of the most luxury ONSEN hotels in Japan and loved by a lot of celebrities in the world. The thatched entrance and the beautiful garden which is felt the nature is kept as it is though it’s nicely maintained. There are beautiful buildings and villas at the vast garden. I want to stay here someday.
ゆのつぼ温泉 (YUNOTSUBO ONSEN)
I’ve tried a public bath house “ゆのつぼ温泉 (YUNOTSUBO ONSEN)”, where the spring quality is simple spring. This seems to be a historical public bath which the name is written in some records during EDO Period. The bathtub of both men’s and women’s bathrooms are made of cypress, and a lot of tourists also visit here. When I visited here, there was no one else so that I was able to use almost privately. The entry fee is 200 yen and requested to put the coins into the yellow box at the entrance.
Thanks to ONSEN, my fatigue after walking around the town had gone away. When I further walked around, suddenly the rainbow appeared! That made me remember the name of the hotel I stayed. “ゆふいん七色の風 (YUFUIN NANAIRO NO KAZE)” . “NANAIRO” means “rainbow”, and “KAZE” means “breeze”. Wow, is this a real rainbow breeze!
Around here, there’s another representing ONSEN RYOKAN in YUFUIN “玉の湯 (TAMA NO YU)”. I’ve visited this hotel as well. I found that most of the ONSEN hotels in YUFUIN have beautiful entrance approach. This reminded me of what I had heard from my friend working at Disney resort. He told me that the queuing area of Disney resort is not just the place people wait and queue, but it functions as the place where makes people gradually get interested in and concentrate on the ambience they are going into while they are waiting. Even though the ambience itself has good taste, if people quickly get into it from the outside, they cannot switch their mind so suddenly. Therefore, the function which bridges in and out is quite important, and the entrance approach at ONSEN hotels in YUFUIN really work well.
TAMA NO YU also looks superb. There’s beautiful entrance approach, peaceful library, and outside terrace where you can view beautiful green. I want to stay here as well someday.
After YUFUIN, next I’ll head to 黒川温泉 (KUROKAWA ONSEN).
Next article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 5 – vol 1
Related articles about this trip:
Introduction of this trip: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU