Yufuin is a small town of around 36,000 people nestled in the picturesque valley below Mount Yufu-dake near Beppu on the southern island of Kyushu.
Yufuin Onsen, Oita Prefecture
25km inland from Beppu on the coast on the road to Mount Aso, Yufuin is a very different kind of onsen resort to its more famous neighbor by the sea.
Whereas Beppu has always been a hot spring town catering to male visitors with its red-light district and sex museum (now sadly closed) included, Yufuin was from the onset supposed to be very different - a thoroughly clean and healthy place geared towards women and young families.
In recent years, Yufuin has become a rather twee resort popular with coach tours of senior citizens.
Paragliding in the clear skies below the twin peaks of Yufuin-date
Yufuin has a number of things to do and the town makes for a pleasant day-trip from Beppu or a stop over on your way to Mount Aso.
Kinrinko Lake is a noted beauty spot with a number of onsen, restaurants and cafes on its shores including the Kamenoi Besso ryokan - a classic ryokan from the 1930s and considered one of tne of the best and most expensive in Japan complete with an excellent restaurantand a store selling Western-style meat and dairy products from the farms up on the Kuju Highlands.
The Yufuin Kiyoshi Yamashita Museum on the main road to Kinrin Lake has a really good selection of the eccentric artist's works. Yamashita (1922-1971) was known as the "Japanese Van Gogh" or the "Naked General" for his habit of wandering the country wearing only a vest and was famous for his chigiri-e art works - art made from cut or torn pieces of paper.
The Yufuin Film Festival is Japan's oldest film festival, dating back to the 1970's and is held in August in a town without a movie theater! The event takes place in a multi-functional communal hall and consists of a number of fairly academic symposia and about 20 film screenings.
Yufuin-date seen from a pretty street in Yufuin town
Kirinko Lake in Yufuin is a well-known beauty spot
Yufuin Station is a wooden period piece which also contains the town's tourist information office and a small art gallery. Train buffs can buy a platform ticket to see the luxury Yufuin-no-Mori train - the distinctive green train with a wooden interior runs from Hakata to Beppu via Yufuin.
Yufu-date (1584m) has twin peaks and towers above the town. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top - there are no shops or refreshments on the way.
Torii shrine gate on Lake Kirinko
Yufuin is an easy day trip from nearby Beppu or Oita cities
Local JR trains on the Kyudai Line take 1 hour and 15 minutes from Beppu via Oita. Limited expresses do the same journey in 60 minutes. There are frequent buses to Beppu and buses to Aso and Kumamoto in season. Check at the tourist office. Highway buses connect Yufuin with Fukuoka.
Onsen hot spa in Yufuin, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu