Visiting Kyushu? Don’t Miss These 4 Locations in Oita Prefecture!

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  • If you love hot springs (温泉) and beautiful scenery in Japan, Oita Prefecture (大分県) is the place to be. It is located on the eastern side of Kyushu (九州), which is a perfect spot to see and experience the earth’s powerful force beneath our feet.

    Japan is known for being located on the Ring of Fire that runs around the Pacific Ocean, thus it is not surprising to see so many volcanoes. Oita is known to have more hot springs than anywhere else around the country. These volcanic peaks are interrupted by beautiful terraced rice fields and bamboo groves. Its coastline is dotted with fishing villages, which produce some of the best seafood in the country. Moreover, there are a lot of fascinating places and activities for you to explore. These attractive spots are worth visiting in the area. Let’s check them out.

    1. Takasakiyama Natural Zoo (高崎山自然動物園)

    monkeys

    With approximately 1,300 monkeys living here, Takasakiyama Natural Zoo is considered the largest monkey habitat in Japan. This is an opportunity for you to observe troops of monkeys descending the mountain every single day for feeding time.

    These monkeys are not fed but also observed from their living area on the slopes of Mt. Takasaki (高崎山). Although they are considered wild, the monkeys are also regarded not dangerous to humans. Most of them are adorable and well-behaved. All you need to do is to avoid staring directly at them to prevent misunderstanding. Most days, these monkeys live their normal lives in the park. They play, groom, grunt and run just like they’ve always done. Since there’s no cage nor closure, you can actually experience having a close encounter with these playful animals.

    The staff who feed them are the ones who conduct certain demonstrations and small talks. The place is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission fee for adults is 510 yen while elementary and junior high school student tickets are 250 yen.

    Takasakiyama Natural Zoo website
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    2. Sekizaki Ocean and Astronomical Observatory Hall (関崎海星館)

    observation-hall

    This is somewhere for you to enjoy incredible views and meet with intelligent astronomers. Some of these astronomers even speak good English, so you can definitely learn a lot of information from them.

    This area is nicely isolated from the city lights on the other side of the mountain and is quietly sitting on top of a hill. You can visit several times and go home with a souvenir, such as the Andromeda Galaxy key chain. If you’d like to explore the observatory, you can bring along your camera so you can take panoramic pictures of the ocean and the starry skies at night. It is a great way to relax from the busy life in the city and admire the beauty of nature.

    If you’d like to check out the galaxy far far away, you can use the area’s powerful telescopes. It allows you to admire the sky’s minute details which cannot be seen with the naked eye. If you get hungry, you can go the nearby restaurant, which is located next to the observatory.

    Visiting takes a long while but it is worth the time, especially if you come in groups. It can be a fun way to learn and mingle with each other while exploring all the observatory has to offer.

    Sekizaki Ocean and Astronomical Observatory Hall website *Japanese Only
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    3. Oita City Art Museum (大分市美術館)

    elephant-statue

    This museum is located in Uenogaoka Park (上野丘公園), which is a tranquil, lush greenery abundant in nature. It is noticeable with its high statue of an elephant that immediately greets you as you enter.

    The museum houses around 3,000 works of modern and contemporary art. It is divided into two sections: the main exhibition area and the special exhibition area. The main exhibition area is all about traditional Nihonga paintings (日本画), which have been made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions. These paintings are regarded as Important Cultural Properties (重要文化財) of Japan. Included in these pieces are masterpieces and works made by Tanomura Chikuden (田能村竹田) and Tatsuo Takayama (髙山辰雄).

    Other items you can find in the museum were produced by Oita-native artists and creators. Those artworks, which are 100 years old, were made by artists with close links to Oita Prefecture. These are permanently displayed according to genre.

    The museum also has a shop and a restaurant, so you can definitely take your time while you enjoy the charming place.

    Oita City Art Museum website *Automatic translation available
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    4. Umitamago Aquarium (大分マリーンパレス水族館 うみたまご)

    beppu-aquarium

    This is a popular aquarium among families and friends in Oita Prefecture. It is not only a large aquarium but it is an impressive place with plenty of space to walk around.

    The museum opened in 1964 but was renovated in 2004. It was built under the direction of local mayor and visionary, Tamotsu Ueda (上田保). The pool size is reasonable and well-decorated. A lot of animals can be found there, such as penguins, dolphins, seals and many more! Since the aquarium is built right next to the ocean, it provides an excellent view of the coast. No wonder it is one of the most highly visited aquariums all throughout Japan.

    What is unique about the place is the collection of well put together indoor displays. Several biomes of the arctic, ocean and river tanks are very well-presented. It is an abundant niche consisting of interesting sights! There is no train station nearby, so you’re stuck between driving or taking a bus if you’d like to visit.

    Since the place is located between Beppu City (別府市) and Oita City, you can take the bus from both places. It takes 15 minutes to get there from Beppu City and 25 minutes from Oita City. Mark this as your next travel destination as it is the most popular theme park in the place.

    Umitamago Aquarium website
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    Oita is a naturally blessed prefecture. Being located in the northeastern corner of Kyushu Prefecture, its coastal areas, farmland, highland and mountains lead to a mixture of different farming and fishing culture. It has also been designated as a place with almost 700 traditions, landmarks, properties and cultural assets. No wonder it is brimming in attractive destinations such as the mentioned places above. Don’t forget to visit these areas with your family and friends for a fun-filled adventure and culturally satisfying travel. You’ll surely enjoy the natural beauty of Oita Prefecture besides its famous hot springs.

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