With the highest number and types of Onsen in one prefecture, Oita is the undisputed onsen capital of Japan. Its dynamic landscape is adorned with the Kuju mountains, Yabakei gorge and Kunisaki Peninsula with its Usuki’s stone Buddha statues. Enriched with a wealth of natural ingredients, the prefecture offers exotic seafood like fugu (ふぐ, puffer fish) to delicately fried chicken.
Yaseuma is an addictive traditional snack that features chewy noodles made using special local flour and covered with velvety kinako (黄粉 / きなこ, roasted soy powder) and sugar.
Hell Steamed Cuisine 地獄蒸し
This healthy cuisine is cooked by Beppu’s abundance of hot steam and water. Experience this time-honoured method and cook your meals at Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Centre (地獄蒸し工房鉄輪). Mouth-watering ‘hell steamed’ pudding, buns and dumplings are ideal snacks after an onsen bath.
Beppu cold noodles
Nothing beats the heat better than a bowl of chilled noodles, Beppu-style. Usually homemade, the dough is made using buckwheat flour and the refreshing dish is commonly topped with cold seasoned beef, boiled egg and kimchi.
In this steam-infused town with a wide selection of onsen(s), you can be buried in therapeutic hot sand in Takegawara onsen, along the coast at Beppu Beach Sand Bath or soak in Beppu Onsen Hoyoland’s open-air mud bath. After a multitude of onsen experiences, tour the multi-coloured ‘hells’ of Beppu – seven spectacular onsen(s) only for viewing.
Kanzaki Onsen Tenkai-no-yu
Located along the coastline, the open-air baths boast a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape as well as the sea. Soak in waters known for its healing properties, which can relieve aching joints and aid in poor digestion.
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Sep/Oct 2017 Vol. 40)