Going up a road among mountains and emerging into the valley of the Tsuetate River, steam rising from here and there in a town on the opposite side of the river will come into sight. This is Tsuetate Onsen town, located on the border of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. Its history is said to date back some 1,800 years, and during the mid-20th century it prospered as an entertainment district. Now, still retaining some of the vestiges of those days, it is a calm hot spring town with a unique atmosphere, which is favored as a shooting location of films. Its name, Tsuetate, meaning “a stick is standing,” has this legend behind it. At the beginning of the 9th century, high priest Kobo Daishi Kukai, who visited here on a journey, was very impressed by the efficacy of the spa. When he made his bamboo walking stick stand in the ground, branches and leaves came out from the joints of the stick. And also there is another piece of lore acclaiming the miracle-like efficacy of the hot spring. All ailing persons and aged persons who came with a walking stick would forget to bring their stick with them when they left. Because of the excellent quality of the water, the hot spring has long attracted people looking for cures. The water is transparent, mild and moisturizing in effect, which contributes to beautiful skin. Thanks to its mildness on the skin, soaking in the bath can be done several times a day. In the surrounding area, Nabega-taki waterfall, Shimonjo-no-taki waterfall and other picturesque scenery is worth seeing. “Mushi-yu,” a kind of steam bath from high-temperature water of about 98 degrees Celsius, has been famous since days of old. The temperature is lower and the humidity is higher than usual saunas, which is considered to decrease the burden on circulation organs. Mushi-yu has a variety of beneficial effects, including decreasing stress, making skin beautiful, improving metabolism, relieving stuffy nose, and slimming down.