The first thing you notice about Yufuin Station is how cool and sleek it looks, a modern beast sitting placidly at the end of the boutique store-filled main street. But the majority of these stores don’t open till 10am, so if browsing these stores are your main goal, don’t leave your ryokan or hotel too early.
Natural hot spring water can be found spouting from the street.
In the event you are there before the stores open, you can do what we did: that is, relax in a cafe while enjoying some famous Yufuin cakes and other baked treats. We elected to stop by the Yufuin Roll shop for some roll cake and hot drinks, but it seems the area is also well-known for doughnuts, the Yufuin burger and dairy products in general.
After the refreshments, we took a pleasant stroll towards Kirinko Lake on a street lined with interesting stores and stalls, selling everything from local specialties, t-shirts and hot food. One of the main attractions was a cute store selling a range of Studio Ghibli goods, which also featured Totoro waiting for his bus outside.
Kirinko Lake is a scenic lake that is a landmark of Yufuin, together with the twin-peaked Mt. Yufu which towers in the backdrop of the quaint onsen town. Since it was drizzling and the sky was grey, the lake’s waters weren’t as vibrant as in some photos, but the steam rising from the surface instead created a mystical and dreamy atmosphere.
We wandered around the lake for a bit, but the rain made the air cold and we abandoned walking deeper into the park for…
An Oita specialty, these delicious tempura fried pieces of juicy chicken are eaten hot with ponzu sauce and mustard, and taste far better than the standard karaage (in my humble opinion).
After satisfying ourselves with the generous lunch, it was time to finally head home. We wandered over the bus terminal, located a few steps from Yufuin Station, and boarded a direct bus to Oita Airport. The trip takes roughly 1 hour, and is essentially non-stop.
Oita Airport is a small airport which mostly services domestic routes, although there are direct flights to Seoul. The blue and yellow paintwork on the roof, where you can watch planes take off and land, reminds one of Ikea.
The seats in the departure area have spiffy USB chargers.
After a short 1.5 hour flight, we arrived safely in Haneda Airport. Home sweet home!
Model: Takuya Komatsu is an actor/singer active in Asia. Originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, he has starred in dramas such as Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo 2013 and Fire Boys (2004), as well as released an album in Taiwan.