Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka (Plus My First Onsen Experience!)

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Let’s be honest: there’s not much to see in Fukuoka City. It’s a laid-back city—sleepy even, to some—that’s easy to navigate, with ramen shops and cafes that are less packed compared to its bigger sister cities. If you’re visiting for the food, you won’t be disappointed; so in a way, for me, it’s like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi in Vietnam—delicious, but not much attractions that scream to be photographed and posted on IG for everyone to marvel at. However, once you step out of the city, that’s when everything changes.

Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu island and is the gateway to many other destinations in this side of Japan, like Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Nagasaki, to name a few. While researching these neighboring prefectures, I found out that they were actually quite far—and so, as those who have been to Japan can attest to, I got stressed trying to figure out how to cram everything into my limited time. Luckily, I found this Dazaifu – Yufuin – Beppu tour from KKday which goes to 2 of the destinations I wanted to see. It was nerve-wracking trying to plan how to do several stops in a day—without spending too much money—so this day tour was just the perfect solution.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
The tour takes an entire day—we assembled at the JR Hakata Station area before 9:00AM. The itinerary includes 3 main parts: Dazaifu, a city that houses a famous shrine; Yufuin, a charming traditional village in Oita; and Beppu, a popular onsen destination (also in Oita). Personally, I would’ve skipped the first one but since the tour goes to the other two, I highly recommend that you book this when you go to Fukuoka.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
After a 30-minute drive, we arrived at Dazaifu, a quiet city popular with tourists and local students because it houses the 400-year-old Dazaifu Tenmangū Shrine—a shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane. Michizane is a scholar and politician of the Heian Period, and is associated with the deity of education. Visitors come here to pray for wisdom, purchase good luck charms (for important events, like exams), and offer wishes.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuokav
There’s a trio of bridges that represent the past, present, and future, and it is customary that when you cross them, you shouldn’t ever look back. It symbolizes focusing on the future instead of getting stuck in the past. In one entrance, there’s a sacred bull statue believed to bestow wisdom to anyone who touches its head. Outside the main shrine, there are lots of shops selling snacks and souvenirs—including a Starbucks popular for its architecture. I tried some rice crackers sprinkled with nori and togarashi—simple but delicious!

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
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After about 1.5 hours of exploring, we proceeded to the next destination: Yufuin. The drive going to Oita was so scenic, that I wanted to nap but I ended up taking so many photos. I read before going that Yufuin Village is popular for shopping, but I actually didn’t care much about that part. With the town set amidst Mount Yufu, I was looking forward to the beautiful natural sights, one of which is the Lake Kinrinko.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

We got there just in time for lunch—1 meal is part of the package, and we were given several choices for food. The tour guide asked us our preferred restaurant while inside the bus, because he had to book the seats in advance. There were ramen and tonkatsu shops in the selections but I went for Kurumiya, since the guide said it's known for a traditional Oita miso dish called dango-jiru. I was the only one from the group who chose this, but I think I made the right choice. The dango-jiru is one the best things I’ve had in Japan!


Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
After lunch, we had time on our own to explore—Kkday provided maps, of course. I sought out to check Lake Kinrinko first, so that I would have time to chill and maybe shop afterwards. I loved how peaceful Yufuin was—with all the winding pathways and the towering foliage all over. It felt good just being lost in the beauty of it all. By the time I reached the lake, there were already a lot of tourists hanging out and trying to get their selfies, but the crowd simply vanished in my head because the lake is indeed breathtaking.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Around the lake, there are several restaurants boasting of alfresco areas, but I was keen on visiting this café called Caravan Coffee. I learned it from the guide as well (to be honest, I think I was the only one paying attention), and as you know, I always seek local recommendations whenever I travel. Man, this place is amazing! It’s quirky, it’s charming, it’s quiet. There’s a garden where you can hangout and peacefully drink coffee; inside, a cluttered shop that arouses curiosity.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

An old man runs the shop and makes each cup himself. He has beans from all over the world, which you can enjoy as pour overs (highly recommended) or with milk (he even makes Turkish Coffee, Irish Coffee, and French Café Royale). There’s a selection of teas and juices as well. I highly recommend you stop over Caravan when you go to Yufuin.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Before heading back to the bus, I checked out some shops including the Yufuin Floral Village, which they turned into some replica of Switzerland for some reason. I was not interested to buy anything to be honest, but there was a particularly interesting vintage shop there, though most items were very expensive. I’d rather burn all my money on food (and beer, LOL).

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Finally, we headed to Beppu, the onsen city of Kyushu. Kamado Jigoku—“Cooking Pot Hell”—is one of the places in Beppu that has hot springs, or “hells”. Around Beppu, there are many places with hot springs but here you can find different varieties at once. To be honest, some of the hells look bigger  in pictures than they actually are, but it's still quite interesting to see them in person, sprouting hot water and smoke and all. Also, the onsen eggs are delicious! Especially with yuzu soy sauce!!!

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Just when I thought we were going back to the city, the guide told us that we would be arriving soon at the final stop: Hyotan Onsen. I honestly did not read the package inclusions—it turns out we would actually get to try soaking in some hot springs!!! YAY! This inclusion is optional, by the way, so if you don’t want to try the onsen, you can stay in the bus or do some shopping in the nearby stores.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
So anyway, Hyotan Onsen is actually a Michelin-star onsen spa. Damn, I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about it! It was founded 100 years ago, and people flock to it for the quality of its facilities and hot spring water. It boasts of 6 kinds of baths: a huge public one, a sand bath, a waterfall type, a steam room, an outdoor spring, and private family baths. I don’t have many photos as cameras are prohibited, but I grabbed some from their website so you will be convinced to go!

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
Here’s how it works: you show you ticket (provided by KKday) to the reception and they will provide you a locker key. This locker is for your shoes—you must wear slippers inside the facility. Once inside, there’s another locker for your clothes. This is my first onsen experience, and I felt quite uncomfortable just stripping in front of everybody else. But then a friendly guy from Hong Kong saw me looking stupid (probably) and he said, “just get naked, nobody cares”. And I did! LOL.

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka
(Photos from Hyotan Onsen. Check out their website here.)

It’s quite liberating, actually. Haha. There I was, totally naked, with just a small hand towel, excited at all the hot spring water! LOL! You have to take a shower before you go into any pool and make sure you don’t have any soap left on your skin. Once you dip into the water, there’s an instant therapeutic feel. It was so relaxing, I wanted to stay there forever! You can almost feel all the toxins—in the body and in the mind—leaving your body. My favorites are the waterfall bath (because it massages your body) and the outdoor bath!

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

Dazaifu and Oita Day Tour from Fukuoka

(Photos from Hyotan Onsen. Check out their website here.)


After that onsen experience, I felt so clean and light that I swore I would not eat unhealthy food or drink alcohol for the next couple of days. Hahaha! As you probably know, the Japanese believe that onsen baths help relieve certain gastrointestinal and skin diseases, aside from aiding in muscle and joint pains, stiffness, sprains, fatigue, and many more! I honestly believed too after experiencing this.

The bus ride going back took 2 hours. I felt renewed and happy, and grateful once again with all the things Japan is making me experience. If you guys would like an amazing and unique experience when you visit Fukuoka, make sure you do a day trip to Dazaifu and Oita and book this tour with KKday!


Have you been to Fukuoka? What do you think of this day trip to Dazaifu and Oita?

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