Summer in Northern Kyushu Part 4: Beppu Onsen Town

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Japan is a homogeneous society, with a strong sense of group identity and little racial diversity. When I first set foot in the country a year ago, I absolutely felt that I was an outsider. The Japanese welcome visitors with unbelievable hospitality and politeness, but no matter how one tries to immerse in their culture, gaijins (foreigner) will never be part of Japan.

Beppu, a charming onsen (hot spring) city in Ōita Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, was a little different. There was a feeling of belongingness that the city offers for free. It’s a city that I felt comfortable in because I am an outgoing introvert. You can be whoever you want to be and nobody will give a f*ck. While it is certainly one of the lesser known destinations among foreign travellers, Beppu is a place where you’ll definitely get more of a real feel for Japanese culture and the laid-back life in the countryside. Not only that, this city is rich in natural resources, such as mountainous areas, hot springs, waterfalls and relaxing beaches. It also features eight Jigoku (hell springs), which are spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing.

So, what did I do on my first day in Beppu? I pretty much just walked around aimlessly. I got an English map at the tourism office, bought a bento box at a nearby bento factory, bought a matcha ice cream for dessert (Thank God for Matcha!) and took random photographs while I was walking. Below are some of my photos, hope you’ll enjoy this virtual tour of Beppu! 
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the vintage looking Beppu Station
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the street going to Beppu Guesthouse
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outside Beppu Guesthouse
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In Japan, you can buy just about anything from vending machines, and they are available all the time, everywhere.
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Everyone knows Japanese cars are the envy of the world!
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local tourists probably doing the Jigoku tour
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Bus conductors outside the station - the older one gave me a Beppu map when I was looking at the bus schedules. 
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local buses outside Beppu Station
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I swear I am not a stalker-san lol! I took a photo of these two Japanese students because they looked kawaii!
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These watermelons remind me of Suikawari, a popular beach game in Japan. The rules are similar to piñata. A watermelon is laid out, and participants one by one attempt to smash it open. Each is blindfolded, spun around three times, and handed a wooden stick, or bokken, to strike with. If you're an anime fan like me, you probably have seen how it's done! :)
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The designs of Japanese homes favor space and simplicity over furnishing and extravagance. These houses may look small  on the outside but you will be amazed once you get in. Wish I could get a house like this someday!
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the street going to Beppu Park
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It was my first time to see a corgi in person! I was really fascinated with this dog breed. This kawaii dog has the fluffiest, most well kept dog butt I have ever seen.
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looks like Kyoto's Arashiyama, no? :)
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vending machines are everywhere! seriously!
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This family was playing badminton when I sat down at one of the benches inside the park. When they decided to go home, they walked near the place where I was seated and they said konnichiwa. Almost everyone I met on that day either greeted me in Nihongo or smiled at me. I really felt like a local! Haha
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Beppu Mountain side
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one of the parks along Beppu Beach
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Is there a beach in Beppu? Yes! Beppu is facing the beautiful Beppu bay.
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on my way back to Beppu Guesthouse 
I have little regrets that I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to in Beppu on my first day. Because of its laid-back vibe, I gave into the lazy vibes. Lol. But the next two days were eventful, a perfect ending to my summer trip to Japan! ^_^

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