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Recommended Travel in Oita, with Summer Festivals, Onsen, Kakigori, Sunflowers, and Lots More!


ReleaseJuly 23, 2019

An onsen prefecture, Oita, famous for Beppu onsen and Yufuin

Oita Prefecture is located on the coast of Kyushu, facing the Seto Inland Sea. It is famous for Beppu Onsen, Mount Yufu-dake, a popular hiking and climbing destination, and Yufuin, an onsen resort at the base of Mount Yufu-dake. We will introduce recommended summer things in Oita, including summer festivals, popular kakigori (shaved ice topped with syrup), a sunflower field with a view, and cold onsen.

As the nickname “Japan’s No. 1 Onsen Prefecture Oita” suggests, Oita has the largest production of hot spring water as well as the greatest number of onsen sources in Japan. It attracts many tourists with famous onsen resorts, such as Beppu and Yufuin every year, and onsen is not the only attractive aspect of Oita. Serving as a venue for the Rugby World Cup 2019 this autumn, it is attracting even more attention.

Summer festivals in Oita

Hita Gion-matsuri Festival

Hita Gion-matsuri has a long history of about 300 years. It is traditionally known for driving away/preventing epidemics, windstorms and floods, and wishing for peace and security. Gorgeous yamaboko (portable shrines) parade through the town accompanied by the sound of gion-bayashi music. At night, elegant ban-yama parades with yamaboko decorated with lanterns take place. The festival will be on July 27 (Sat) and 28 (Sun), 2019. On July 25 (Thu), two days before the festival, all the yamaboko will gather together in front of Hita Station.

Oita Hita Gion-matsuri FestivalHita Gion-matsuri Festival

Kitsune-odori dance, originating from Nembutsu-odori dance in the Kamakura period

Said to have originated in the Nembutsu-odori dance in the Kamakura period (the 12th – 14th centuries), Himeshima Bon-odori dance consists of two kinds, traditional dance and original dance. The traditional dance is called kitsune-odori (fox dance), which is growing in popularity with dancing children wearing unique fox-like makeup and making funny gestures. These “fox pups” dance while singing “orasa, orasa, soraita, soraita, yoiyoi” with lantern-decorated umbrellas in their hands.
Oita Kitsune-odori dance, originating from Nembutsu-odori dance in the Kamakura periodKitsune-odori dance, originating from Nembutsu-odori dance in the Kamakura period

Recommended kakigori (shaved ice) in Oita

Kotone-an (Hita City)

“Café & Bar, Kotone-an” in Hita offers kakigori with fluffy fresh snow-like shavings of home-made ice. The popular Dolce kakigori series, which offers a different kind monthly, is like a cake with a home-made sauce.

Kotone-an Oita Hita CityKotone-an

Wa Café Hotaru-cha-en (Nakatsu City)

Hotaru-cha-en offers popular seasonal syrups made with matcha and local fruits. Enjoy the cotton candy-like texture of kakigori, which is carefully made with pure water from Yabakei Gorge and melts in your mouth.
Oita Wa Café Hotaru-cha-en Nakatsu CityWa Café Hotaru-cha-en

Bungo Ono Organic Farm (Bungo-ono City)

You can enjoy kakigori with “Clean Peach,” a local specialty of Kiyokawa Town, Bungo-ono City, which has a high sugar content and is called “phantom peach.”

Oita Bungo Ono Organic Farm Bungo-ono CityBungo Ono Organic Farm

Yohachiro Café & Sweets (Beppu City)

Yohachiro serves only home-made syrups, sauces, and condensed milk. Among others, Tiramisu kakigori is a very unique one made with hand-dripped coffee syrup.

Oita Yohachiro Café & Sweets Beppu CityYohachiro Café & Sweets

Tautona Coffee, Akarenga Branch (Oita City)

Akarenga-kan, a red brick building, which used to be used for Oita Bank, was designed by Kingo Tatsuno, the architect who designed the Tokyo Station building. As one of the tenants of the building, Tautona Coffee, a coffee-specialty shop, offers “coffee kakigori,” with syrup made with its original coffee. The syrup is unique because it is not sweet. You can enjoy the kakigori by adjusting the sweetness with vanilla ice cream and condensed milk.

Oita Tautona Coffee, Akarenga Branch Oita CityTautona Coffee, Akarenga Branch

Cold onsen recommended in summer, proudly unique to the onsen prefecture

Kannojigoku Onsen

This onsen has 100% natural spring water from an abundant source producing two tons per minute. It is the only cold sulfur spring in Japan. At this onsen, you can enjoy various kinds of onsen, including stone bath, hinoki (cypress) bath, family bath, and cold bath with the source at 13-14 degrees Celsius. The cold bath is available only from July to September, and you can get in with a bathing suit. It is said that it is best to get warm in a heated room after taking the cold bath without drying yourself with a towel.

Oita Kannnojigoku OnsenKannnojigoku Onsen

Shimoyu at Shichirida Onsen

Said to have the highest concentration of carbonate in Japan, Shimoyu at Shichirida Onsen is a carbonated onsen, aka “ramune-no-yu,” in which you will be covered by bubbles as soon as you get in. The source temperature is about 36-37 degrees Celsius, which is close to body temperature, allowing you to take a relaxing bath even in the hot summer season.

Oita Shimoyu at Shichirida OnsenShimoyu at Shichirida Onsen

Get a photogenic scene of the ocean and sunflower field at “Himawari Festa 2019”

The sunflower field with about 1.6-million sunflower plants at Cape Nagasakibana is carefully cared for by local people every year. The best time to view the sunflowers is mid-August, and the festival is attracting attention as a photogenic spot with the ocean in the background. During the festival from August 17 (Sat) to September 8 (Sun), a “Sunflower Maze” event will be held.
At Nagasakibana Beach Resort, you can stay at a house trailer with a view of the ocean as well as enjoying BBQ, SUP yoga, and sunset yoga.

Oita Himawari Festa 2019Himawari Festa 2019

*The information herein is as of July 2019.