Japan City Guides: Kunisaki Peninsula
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Kunisaki Peninsula 国東
The Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture, protrudes out into the sea north of Beppu in north eastern Kyushu. Kunisaki is known for its stone-carved Buddha images scattered around the peninsula and a number of ancient temples and shrines.
The original Usa-jingu (Tel: 0978 37 0001) dates back over 1,000 years, to the year 725, and is dedicated to Hachiman - the god of war. The shrine is the oldest Hachiman shrine in Japan.
Hachiman is the deified Emperor Ojin, a legendary Emperor of Japan. Hachiman shrines have now spread throughout Japan from this first shrine in Kyushu. The present shrine buildings date from the mid-nineteenth century.
Nanchuromon Gate, Usa Jingu Shrine, Kunisaki
Usa Shrine, Kunisaki Peninsula, Oita, Japan
If Kunisaki has a main town it is Bungo Takeda, another of those places in Japan with the soubriquet "Little Kyoto". With its ruined Oka Castle, buke-yashiki samurai houses and the 11th century Fukiji Temple, Bungo Takeda makes for a pleasant base to explore the Kunisaki Peninsula.
Bungotakeda is also renowned for its Showa Machi, a recreation of a typical town in Japan's Showa Era. It is the setting for many Japanese period movies and television dramas.
Old-time bus in Showa Machi, Bungo Takeda
Fuki-ji Temple (Tel: 0978 26 3189; admission 200 yen), in Tashibu Fuki, Bungotakada, dates from the Heian Period (794-1192) and is the oldest wooden temple in Kyushu and one of the oldest wooden structures in Japan. The original temple dates back to 718 A.D. The main hall (a National Treasure) contains a seated image of the Buddha (a National Important Cultural Property).
The Buddha Hall of Fukiji Temple, Bungo Takeda
Mt. Futago, Kunisaki, Oita Prefecture
Futago-ji ("Twins Temple") (Tel: 0978 65 0253; admission 200 yen) is located in the center of the Kunisaki Peninsula near to the top of the 721m Futago-san mountain. The temple is dedicated to Fudo Myo-o and is known for the beauty of the surrounding foliage in autumn. futago meaning "twins" in English also sees the temple receive visits from families with twins. Visitors can follow the path through the temple to the top of Futago-san.
YouTube Video Guide to Futago Temple
Nearby is Taizo-ji Temple (Tel: 0978 26 2070; admission 200 yen), which is known for its uneven and roughly-hewn stone steps. 2km from here are the Kumano Magaibutsu, two 8th century Buddhist figures carved into a cliff. One is 6m in height, the other 8m, making them the largest such carvings in the country.
Other temples in Kunisaki include Iwatoji Temple with some fine wooden statues, Monjusenji Temple and Sempukuji Temple.
Buddha in Iwatoji Temple, Kunisaki Peninsula
An interesting festival takes place in the small village of Ota in October. The Shirahige Tahara Doburoku Matsuri is dedicated to sampling doburoku the early fermented mash of the sake brewing process.
Himeshima, off the coast of Kunisaki, is home to the Kitsune matsuri (Fox Dance festival). This traditional Obon festival, in honor of the ancestors, takes place annually from August 14-17. During the festival, the usually tranquil and picturesque island is crowded with visitors.
Cherry Blossom, Kunisaki
Regular ferry services run between between Oita and Kansai via Matsuyama. Overnight ferries also available. Cars and bicycles carried.
Train to Fukuoka/Hakata 2.5 hours, 5750 yen. Connects with the Shinkansen bullet train for Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya (3 hours), Yokohama and Tokyo.
Sonic Express at Kitsuki Station, Kunisaki
There are air connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kagoshima, Seoul and Okinawa.
Media Caf Popeye
NTT Oita branch, Funai-cho 3-9-11, Oita.
Rural village stone wall and flowers, Kunisaki
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