The best things to do in Oita with kids

Oita, in the Kyushu island of Japan, is one of the best onsen (thermal hot springs) areas in the country. A popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists, it’s full of attractions. The most visited cities are Beppu and Yufuin. Find out below the best things to do in Oita with kids.

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We spent our days in Yufuin, with a stop in Beppu, before heading to Shikoku. We had 3 days, but it wasn’t nearly enough. 

Where to stay in Yufuin, Japan

We stayed at the Yufuin Kotobuki Hananosho, a ryokan with private onsen (Japan), which fit all our requirements. 

We absolutely loved it. It’s a big ryokan (a Japanese traditional inn) with private onsen (Japanese hot springs), but it also has a communal bath. The meals are served in a restaurant, which is better in my opinion – no fear or dropping soup onto the tatami. 

It’s super close to the main street, and right in front of a coin laundry and a convenience store (life saving). 

It also has a big and free parking lot, which is great. If you come by train, it’s also close to the train station (around 10 minutes walk). 

This was the view from the ryokan bar. What a lovely thing to sit there with a cup of steaming hot matcha and watch the clouds pass by…

I think it must be one of the prettiest Yufuin private onsen, it was just so beautiful. I’d sit there and forget about life. 

You can find their latest prices here!  

What to do in Yufuin, Oita, with kids

Most of the attractions are at Yunotsubu Kaiko (Yufuin Main Street), and it’s good because it’s easy to find everything. Just be aware that it’s super crowded, so go early in the morning (they open at around 9, it depends on the season) or right before closing (at around 5, again, season depending). But it’s so pretty, it’s worth a stop anyway. 

You may find interesting: All about Japan travel with kids!

Kirinko (Kirin Lake)

This is a lake in Yufuin. It’s fed by onsen water (it means it smells). It has koi, a communal onsen on the side, and a little temple too. 

We didn’t manage to visit it early in the morning because we’re not morning people. And the hotel breakfast + the onsen didn’t let us leave too early. It was all too inviting.

It’s pretty, but it’s also very, very crowded. It’s way better early in the morning, when the steam is up and giving the lake a beautiful ethereal look. And it’s also a lot more empty. 

There are many signs talking about this tiny water creature that lives only in those waters – we didn’t find any.

Dr. Kiss Fish 

A foot bath where the fish eat the dead skin off your feet? Well, the kids didn’t want to try it, but Angelo and I did and I need to warn those ticklish people: it tickles. A lot. 

They have small fish (pictured) and big fish tanks. We tried both. The big fish are a lot less ticklish, though they are creepier.

Well, I’m not trying again anytime soon. But the feet do come out of it a lot smoother.

OK, so… well, first, I was scared I was going to squash the fish. But then I realised they’re smart enough to move out of the way. It was still a little creepy, though, that they were eating the dead skin off our feet. Poor fish.

Ghibli Shop (Donguri no Mori)

OK, I’m a Ghibli addict (Hello, Totoro) and I needed to stop there. The little shop is adorable and everyone stops to take a photo with the Totoro at the front of the store. Go in and enjoy a little magic. 

Floral Village

This cute little part of the street is full of adorable streets, but I was advised by my kids to not go. They said it was full of enclosed animals and I was bound to feel sad. 

This is where the Kiki Bakery used to be – it’s not there anymore. 

‘If it’s so crowded, how come there’s no one in this photo?’. Well, it was late. Around 7 pm. Everything was closed, so there was nobody. That’s how. Get there early or late for some photos and you’re done!

Showa Retro Park

A little museum/park that shows Japan as it used to be a while ago, during the Showa era (1926~1989). We decided not to go in, as we wouldn’t feel any familiarity and we had no real curiosity, but if you have the time…

Try out the many delicious foods

We tried so many delicious food there, but one of my favorites were Milch and their custard pudding. So good. 

But head to all the stores, try out the biscuits, the speciality soy sauces, the Japanese treats, the capes and pancakes, the ice creams and popsicles, and everything else. It’s all delicious. 

The delicious Milch cream caramel (called purin) in Yufuin. The line was huge but it was worth it. Jose had 2 or3, every time we passed, he wanted one.

Traditional Crafts Center

The building is so beautiful, it’s worth a stop even if you’re not buying anything. They sell lots of crafts, and they’re amazing, albeit pricey. There are cool things, different things, and pure art work. 

Visit the little shops

We bought ourselves some wooden mugs (beautiful), but we were also tempted at engraving our own chopsticks, and getting some Japanese sandals, or many other things. Just look around and choose carefully. 

Mount Yufuin

This mountain is beautiful, so beautiful. It gives amazing views of the city, and it’s worth a stop. There are many hiking trails and lookouts, so go with time or just drive by like we did. Either way, it’s great.

The view of the town from the mountain. I just love the view from above. And it was silent there, just the sound of the trees and the wind.

Beppu Tourist Attractions

We had only a few hours in Beppu, so we didn’t do anything but Takasakiyama Monkey Park. But here’s everything we’d like to have done:

  • Hells of Beppu: Colorful thermal lakes? Something like Yellowstone in the USA. Sad we didn’t get to see it, though. 
  • Beppu Sand Spa: the volcanic activities make the sand warm and it’s an alternative to the thermal waters. You are buried in the sand (face off, of course), and you lay there, absorbing the minerals and the goodness, and napping or meditating. 
  • Beppu Bamboo Crafts Center: a craft center with all things bamboo? Oh, I’d love to. Too bad we didn’t have the time.
In this photo, you can see a person enjoying the fish spa, an ice cream shop, and my kids walking through the alley. This little alley was a loop and just off the main street – that’s why it didn’t have too many people

Takasakiyama Monkey Park 

This looks like a zoo, but isn’t. It’s a mountain, where Japanese macaques live. So a nature reserve was built to keep the monkeys safe and they built a lot of things to keep visiting humans happy. 

The monkeys are free. They can stay on the mountain, leave it, climb to the top and never come back (as one of the groups actually did). There’s no fence for them, but for the humans. 

Humans can’t touch the monkeys. Can’t run after them. Can’t hurt them. Can’t also cross the lines. So, even if you don’t do animal attractions, this is a safe one.

Spring is time for babies. This family was having a clean-up. Aren’t they cute? Completely oblivious to the flock of humans. They only stopped when the guide came around with the bucket of seeds.

There are many monkeys. We went on the monorail (lazy people) and we saw some on the trees on the way. They aren’t scared of humans, but they may feel threatened by you, so try not to stare or make sudden movements. 

Tips for visiting Takasakiyama Monkey Park
  • During spring (March to June), there are babies – highly recommend it, they’re ADORABLE. 
  • You can climb the mountain on foot (there’s a 10 minute path) or on a monorail (2 minutes), but it’s paid (¥100). 
  • A visit to the park is paid and costs ¥510 (15+), ¥250 (6~14) and it’s free for those under 6. 
  • Parking is paid: ¥410 per car.
  • It’s open from 8:30 am to 5 pm (last entry is at 4:30 pm).
This momma was super active, she dragged the baby all around while it suckled on her breast. Lucky me that she decided to take a break just beside us.
  • Keep your valuables inside a closed bag. 
  • Don’t try to touch the monkeys, run after them, yell, or even stare. 
  • They feed the monkey once every 30 minutes, but 2x a day they feed them a special sweet potato meal, which is when more monkeys come around. This happens at the end of the monorail stop, called Saru Yoseba . 
  • They have this rock shaped in the face of a monkey (it’s huge) and, if you find it, it brings you luck!
  • There’s a monkey museum there too, but it’s one room where they talk about the monkeys, shops, cafés, and more. 

Other Oita Attractions

Harajiri no Taki

This is said to be one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Honestly, we didn’t think so. But…. to each their own. It’s beautiful, and huge, but far from being so pretty. It may be because we visited it right after a heavy rain and the water was brownish. It may have been the grey weather.

This is the waterfall. Maybe when the water is cleared, isn’t it? It’s pretty, but… not as pretty as we’d imagined. But the water mist is very strong and it was nice and refreshing while we walked around it
Usuki and Ueno Motomachi

Various religious symbols carved on rocks, like Buddhas carved on cliffs and rock walls, and things. In Usuki, there’s also a miso shop selling miso ice cream. 

Yufuin to Beppu

The road from Beppu to Yufuin is a good one, though a mountain and so many beautiful sceneries. It takes around 30 minutes by car, and it’s super easy on the eyes and on the soul.

To finish: Things to do in Oita, Japan

There are many things to do in Oita, but Beppu and Yufuin are very, very touristic cities and you may want to avoid if you don’t like crowds of tourists. I do recommend a visit, though, because Beppu and Yufuin onsen ryokan are just some of the best in the country, and consequently, in the world. 

Even if you’re just going to be stuck inside your private onsen, watching the clouds go by, I really think it’s worth it!

  • City / Country
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • Oita / Japan
  • 2 days
  • $$$
  • Child friendly enough
  • Foot
  • Super safe
  • Yes!

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