It is around a two hour flight from Tokyo to the Fukuoka Airport. We rented the Elgrand at the Nissan Rent a Car Fukuoka Airport outlet! We selected studless tires since it looked like snow for Oita. The Elgrand is known for its large and comfortable seats.
We headed toward Yufuin on the Oita Expressway. There are many flights between Tokyo and Fukuoka Airport, so it is a convenient way to travel here. The Oita Expressway traverses the mountains of Kyushu and gives you a feeling of freedom. We make quick work of the mountain road.
We arrived at Yufuin-Baien, the lodge we are staying for the night. It is perched on a small hill which gives a grand view of the solemn Yufudake Mountain.
When you think of Oita, you think of Bungo Beef meat. The meat had just the right amount of fat and was very filling!
An open air bath was just a short walk from our lodge. We were able to see Yufudake Mountain from the open air bath thanks to the clear weather.
The following morning our Elgrand was covered in snow. The black color looks cool with the snow on it! I couldn't leave without taking a shot of it with Yufudake Mountain in the background.
Our favorite part about the design of the Elgrand is the front grill. The parallel lines that go up the center of the car give it a dignified look.
On the second day, we drove down Prefectural Road 11 to arrive at Beppu City. Yufudake Mountain has a height of 1,584 meters and is called "Bungofuji" for its beautiful twin peaks and sublime appearance.
There is a lookout point along Prefectural Road 11 called Sagiridai. It is at the foot of Yufudake Mountain and is a spot where you can get a commanding view of the Yufuin basin.
The Yufuin basin surrounded by the winter mountains was unlike anything I had ever seen! Prefectural Road 11 is a fun winding road for driving and you can have quite a bit of fun driving back to Beppu.
After we arrived in Beppu City, we started our tour of the Jigoku springs by visiting the Chinoike Jigoku pond. It has existed since at least 1300 years ago and is the oldest natural red color pond in Japan where fabrics and wood have been dyed for centuries. The area around the pond is warm and you could see the steam rolling off of the pond.
Next, we visited the Tatsumaki Jigoku. It is a precious geyser designated as a national monument in Beppu City. Many tourists were waiting to see when the geyser would go off.
We took a break from sightseeing the city for some lunch. We went to a kaiten-zushi restaurant called Tensui. The incredibly fresh fish recharged our batteries!
In addition to touring the different springs in the city, there is also Beppu Tower which you can get a commanding view of the mountains and sea of Beppu. This tower is actually the third oldest in Japan with a long history and is even older than Tokyo Tower!
After sightseeing Beppu City, we hopped back on Prefectural Road 11 and went towards Yufuin. It is easy to drive the Elgrand with five people and our belongings without becoming tired along the way.
There was still snow on the roads around Yufuin. We felt the importance of having the studless tires when going through the ups and downs of this road.
Today we are stopping at a lodge called Kamenoi Besso. This lodge is known as one of the three famous lodges of Yufuin and the spacious grounds with annex, library and bar made for a relaxing stay.
After checking out on our third day, we visited Kinrinko Lake. It is said that fresh water and hot spring water come up from the depths of the lake and we were able to see the steam rolling off of the lake since the water temperature is warm year round.
We stopped by a service area and took an early break on our way back to Fukuoka. We were able to go anywhere our hearts desired because we rented a car!