The small prefecture of Oita, in the northeast of Kyushu Island, is a 90-min flight from Tokyo and a 6hr30min, 4hr and 3hr train journey from Tokyo, Nagasaki and Fukuoka respectively. Temperate in the north, where the summers are hot and the winters rainy, the tropical climate in the south gives rise to mild temperatures all year long and summer rains.
A never-ending stream of tourists to the onsen spas sets the scene in the largest town Beppu and its pretty neighbour Yufuin, contrasting with the spiritual serenity of the temples and unspoiled countryside of the Kunisaki peninsula in the northwest. The massive cave carvings of Usuki and Kumano Magaibutsu bear witness to the influence of Buddhism in the region, while the Usa-Jingu complex, one of the archipelago's major shrines, is devoted to the warrior divinity, Hachiman.
As many sites are isolated and almost inaccessible by public transport, visitors generally rent a vehicle or resort to a combination of trains and taxis.
©F. Guiziou/hemis .frOita
©San Hoyano/Oriental Touch /age fotostockOita