I have been craving for a short break to some rural area to enjoy some fantastic scenery with our yearly family trip and with all the choices – we headed to Fukuoka Yufuin Osen in Japan – one of the best natural hot springs. We booked our flight to Fukuoka International Airport and stayed in Hakata for two days before taking the JRC train to Yufuin for another two days. I am just gonna go through my highlights in Hakata in this post.
First thing when we landed in Japan was getting an early dinner. There were ramen, sushi, bento, skewed food etc. We picked few things from the Hakata station, the under street market and snacks nearby, there is s shopping mall with supermarket too which is very convenient. FYI, I tried a very good hazelnut latte takeaway at the Ueshima Coffee shop with a tagline printed on the cup ” precious moment” which I highly recommend everyone, it is inside the station.
We had a good wander around the city and seeing more shrines. We also specifically visited the Fukuoka tower. It looks like in the middle of nowhere but it’s easy to go. We got off from the Nishijin Station and about 20 mins walk to the South that you could hardly miss because the fact is a 234m tall! 800yen entrance ticket per person.
I like visiting towers because i am seeing the city at different levels and scales! The tower was made out of mirrored panels and the view overlooks the sandy beaches and Hakata Bay.
The next day, our family woke up extremely early to dress in Kimonos and we are ready for the day! I was doing research on the train and found out there are estimated to be about 80,000+ shrines in Japan! They have a really good policy on preserving historical building.
We arrived at Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine (map) around 11 a.m which already packed with people, I checked my history book and found out the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine is sacred to the memory of Michizane Sugawara who was a scholar of the Heian Period. Michizane passed away in Dazaifu in 903 and the Tenmangy Shrine was built on the site of his grave.
Arrived at the Torii (the Shinto gate), there is an arched bridge (Taiko Bridge) that allow visitors to walk across the pond on their way in represents the past, the flat bridge the present and second bridge represent the future.
The ritual begins at the Temizuya water pavilion after rising my hands and mouth.
The main hall, as it stands today, was re-constructed in 1591 A.D. single-storied building complex is Gongen-zukuri type, where the main sanctuary (honden) and the worship hall ( haiden) are interconnected by an intermediate space called “ishi-no-ma”, with under the same roof covered with shake shingles.
Both honden and haiden built with a hip-and gable roof, the entrance is covered by an elaborate canopy. The building is registered as an Important Cultural Property. I can tell it has been taken care well properly when I first walked in.
What’s around Dazaifu station?
From Dazaifu station to the Dazaifu Tenman-gu was about 10 mins walk, and along the main path to the shrine, i passed many traditional shops with all the pottery, lucky charms, rice monchi etc. It was highly recommended that to try the rice monchi which is red beans inside and I find it quite sweet and best to go with green tea. Visitors would not miss out the Starbucks coffee designed by the architect, Kengo Kuma.
The design consists of 2000 wooden block with the Japanese jointing technique, kigumi, which was the used for the traditional house without using metal like nail. I think It has blended in with the environment well. Inside the coffee shop, the signature warm mustard light designed by Isumi Okayasu Lighting Design makes you instantly know you have entered Starbucks.
Yufuin – Space of Vegetation and tranquillity
We caught the train from Hakata station to Yufuin with the express Yufuin-no-morigo. In the 2 hours journey in the blink of my eyes, we have arrived at the Yufuin Station designed by Arata Isozaki.
I had a quick tour and find out it has a central atrium lead to offices, waiting room and art gallery. There is a footbath in Platform 1 too!
The Japanese government has urban planning regime that restricts development and protects the natural environment, this attracts artists from other parts of Japan to open their studio and the small little shops lead you one to another, also cafes, food stalls, pottery workshop, galleries, art-glass, wooden crafts and much more.
Yufuin was an old-fashioned hot spring town in the 60’s and suffered financial difficulties, there were fascinating readings on urban development and how they become hot spring town. What I like about Yufuin is it never aim to be the best, instead it aims to be the ‘only one’ spring town, that’s the unique and beauty of it.
Where to stay?
We stayed at the ryokan (Ryotei Tanokura inn), it is the best stay ever in Japan! 3 mins away from the beautiful lake – Kinrin-ko lit ( Golden Scale Lake). included traditional breakfast and dinner with 12 courses and I cannot be happier. As I have said in the intro, the Yufuin is special of the natural hot spring, we have also requested an outdoor hot spring in our room too. However, the public bath is also free during the stay and it’s very equipped.
879-5102 Oita, Yufu, Yufuincho Kawakami 1556-2, Japan
Within the Shine precincts are many plum trees, camphor trees and irises, which provide natural beauty in every season of the year. If you are a fan of fruits, remember to try the persimmons ( kaki)! And oh don’t forget the plum wines!