Situated in the middle of Oita Prefecture, Oita city is blessed with a warm climate, lush greenery and an abundance of fresh, natural products from both land and sea. With the influence of trading ships from the West and the conversion of a local feudal lord in the 16th century, many people in Oita became Christians. When Japan prohibited religion in the 17th century, many believers were forced to renounce their faith to avoid execution or practice their faith in secret. As a result, the seaside town of Oita has many religious and European artefacts as well as a wealth of museums and art galleries.
Oita Art Museum
The Oita City Art Museum presents an extensive collection of more than 3,000 works by modern and contemporary regional artists, and some are classed as Important Cultural Properties. The museum is set in Uenogaoka Park, and a statue of an elephant 20 feet high with a star balanced on its trunk stands at the museum's entrance. Highlights of the museum include bungo nanga (Japanese-style paintings influenced by Sung China) by the 17th-century modern landscape painter Chikuden Tanomura, as well as other contemporary pieces created by artists connected to the local area. (Image via JNTO)
Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 310 (permanent exhibitions) Time required: 45 minutes
Oita Marine Palace Aquarium Umitamago
Located close to Oita Station, Umitamago is a vast aquarium whose biggest attraction is one of the biggest water tanks you have ever seen; the biggest of which holds 1,250 tons of water. The modern architecture of the building feels like an extension of Beppu Bay. Umitamago offers a variety of aquatic performances where you can see the animals up close. One of the most popular shows is the dolphin show. The entertaining walrus show is also a major attraction. Even the fish here are performers. Parrotfish and porcupine fish do acrobatics, electric eels zap things, archerfish shoot water at targets and more.
Activities: Sightseeing Fee: JPY 2300 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Oita Prefectural Art Museum (OPAM)
OPAM is an art museum and community exhibition venue location. Unlike many typical museums, OPAM is constructed to allow what's happening inside and what is displayed to always be in public view. Ban's use of large glass windows, bamboo and light-coloured walls and ceilings brightens and opens up its interior. World-renowned architect Shigeru Ban devised its seamless integration between everyday life and art, and the structure is often referred to as the Museum of Encounters and the Five Senses. The works include modern Japanese paintings, Western-style paintings, crafts, sculptures and three-dimensional works. (Image via Arch Daily) Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 300 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Oita Christian Martyrs Memorial Park
In the 16th century, during the rule of the feudal lord Sorin Otomo, Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary arrived in Japan and introduced Christianity. Otomo was one of the feudal lords at that time to have converted to Roman Catholicism. Christian beliefs and culture flourished in modern-day Oita and many people became ardent believers. However, with the prohibition of Christianity in the early 17th century, thousands of believers were arrested and executed for refusing to denounce their Christian beliefs. This memorial park was established to remember some 200 local people who died as martyrs to Christianity. (Image via JNTO)
Activities: Memorial park visit, Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 30-45 minutes
Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden
Famous throughout Japan, Takasakiyama is a reserve for wild Japanese macaques. To resolve the problem of conflict with local farmers and residents, and also create a tourist attraction, Takasakiyama was established in 1952 as a haven for the macaques. Since then they have been fed regularly by the park’s wardens to keep them from roaming far and wide into neighbouring fields and residential districts in Oita City and Beppu. Please note, however, that although the macaques appear mostly oblivious to their human visitors and tame, they are wild and should never be touched nor fed, and eye contact is to be avoided.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: JPY 520 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Funai Castle Ruins (Oita Joshi Park)
Oita Joshi Koen Park, a 15 minutes walk from Oita Station, is one of the most popular places for cherry blossom viewing in the city in spring. It was built by Otomo Sorin in 1562. The castle was originally built with several turrets (yagura), all of which were burnt down with the three-story donjon in 1743. The covered bridge that led to the castle over its moat, as well as several turrets, were rebuilt in the 20th century. The Funai Castle Ruins, surrounded by rock walls and a moat, can be found in the park. (Image via Oita City Official Website) Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 30-45 minutes
Machinaka Shopping Arcade
In the city centre, there are shopping streets which house a wide variety of shops and restaurants. "Centporta Chuoucho" and "Galleria Takemachi" are roofed streets where visitors can walk without concern about the weather and enjoy shopping & dining. At the junction between the two arcades is a public square where from time to time various events are held. Funai gobangai (5th Avenue) is a stone-paved shopping street with restaurants, cafes, beauty salons, speciality shops such as a folk craft shop. (Image via Oita City)
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, producing more hot spring water than any other resort in the country. Beppu offers an unmatched range of baths to be enjoyed, including ordinary hot water baths, mud baths, sand baths and steam baths. In addition, the Hells of Beppu is several spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing.
Yufuin is a popular hot spring resort, located about ten kilometres inland from Beppu, another, much larger and more developed hot spring resort. Yufuin has a wealth of art museums, cafes and boutiques, and many travellers come to the city just to stroll about town for the day.