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  • Writer's pictureKarli Messer

Oita Day 1 of 14

Onsen prefecture, Oita. It's their slogan for a reason! This is the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen, especially since coming to Japan. I started my volunteer work and I've gotten to explore the town little by little.

I woke up on the ferry around 5:30 AM. Since it docked at 6:50 there wasn't much time to eat, let alone enough time to be hungry, since I was still full from the all-you-can-eat buffet from the night before! I arrived in Beppu at 7 AM and caught the local bus into the town of Yufuin. It was an hour-long trip, with roads winding through Mount Yufu and breathtaking views in every direction!

I got off the bus and the cafe was a 30-second walk away. The owner, Ryuji san, was there and gave me a quick tour of the cafe and my new home. The WWOOFers stay in the guest house and the volunteer activities are next door at the cafe (Harappa Cafe). We have Tuesday and Wednesday off since the cafe is closed so I went to get set up in my room. However, I was so tired from my early morning ferry, that I fell asleep until a little past noon. I soon found out that a bell rings across the whole town at 6 AM, 12 PM, and 5 PM every day!

Since I was still full from breakfast so I decided to take a walk and visit the tourist district. To my surprise, there were mostly foreigners and lots of cute, interesting gift shops. Here's a Yufuin town map and the cheapest soft serve on the street!

I came back to the guest house after doing a little bit of shopping and I gathered my things for the onsen after dinner. Typically, you eat at the Cafe for free, but I wanted to eat in the town, so I found a mom-and-pop ramen shop nearby. For only ¥500 or $5.00, I had a giant bowl of ramen!

Even though I was super full, I went to the Yufuin community onsen. In hindsight, I'm not sure if "tourists" like me are allowed to go, but everyone was welcoming regardless. Since it was my first time in a public bath, there were some things I wish I knew ahead of time!

  1. Everyone who enters the bath says konbanwa or good evening. Then everyone in the bath always replies in turn with konbanwa. I quickly realized I was the only one who didn't say konbanwa, instead, I said shitsureishimasu or excuse me which is way too formal for the bath!

  2. Since it's a public bath and only costs ¥200, unfortunately, there are no luxury amenities like soap and towels. However, you will definitely need a towel to wash your body and a bag or basket to store your toiletries in. I ended up juggling three bottles and my towel around when I tried to leave... awkward.

  3. Most people have flip-flops or sandals that they wear from their house to the entrance. I wore my boots and had so much trouble getting them back on for my walk home after the bath. No shoes or slippers are worn in the locker room or the bathing area!

Yunotsubo Onsen

I came back to the dorm even sweatier than when I left and met the French couple staying in the guest house with me. They are very kind and always include me on activities they are planning or food they are making. I was a little shocked at first, wondering how they could be so social, but they have helped me a lot at the cafe.


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