People powered in Yufuin

We woke up to a lovely breakfast served by the ryokan. A combination of western and Japanese dishes everything from the salmon in a mint oil sauce to the tofu tasted good. One of the old woman cooks came out and made various origami objects for Alex: bird, paper aeroplane, bat, hat and ball. Then there was just enough time for a soak in the smaller rotemburo before we had to pack everything.

Madoko-san drove us down to the station where I initially tried to shove everything into a coin locker, before discovering that it would have been cheaper to put them all at the left luggage office across the road. I had no real idea what to see in Yufuin, except that it was well preserved and full of traditional Japanese souvenir shops. We could see steam from the many onsens billowing up across the town.

We followed a quiet course beside a canal, before spotting a play area with a steam locomotive (sadly no climbing on it) and slides. Alex played for a while, then we found ourselves on the main drag, stopping at the little shops selling crafts and local Japanese sweets (milk and honey featured heavily).

Many shops had water features outside with hot spring water falling into bowls. These “fountains” and “waterfalls” fascinated Alex and kept dipping his hands in them. He also discovered the vending machine, and now he asks if we can use each one he spots.

At the end of the path and the streams is Kirinko, a small lake of warm water. It was very pretty there, with Yufuindake towering behind.

We were tired and decided to let Alex (and us) experience a new form of transport: the jinrickshaw. The 28 year old towing the three of us around looked pretty tired after 10 minutes of showing us sights. It was expensive, but fun!

We walked the rest of the way to the station, collected our bags, then had to race to catch the train to Oita.

There was more pretty scenery as the red railcar wound its way down towards the coast. There were no fancy automatic doors for Alex to play with and the only toilet was a squat, so he was pretty well behaved the whole ride.

I initially wanted to go onwards towards the crossing to Honshu, the main island of Japan. But B wanted to see Beppu. I had no accommodation listed for the hot spa town, but there was a Toyoko Inn at Oita that I though had vacancies, so we started to walk there. But just outside the station the Plaza Hotel Plus One was advertising even cheaper rates, so we decided to stay here instead.

The rooms are tinier than a Toyoko Inn, the toilet a squeeze and the free internet is via a DSL box, but its close to the station, breakfast is included and its clean, so I’m not really complaining.

Oita seems to be lacking in real interesting sights, but this city seems pleasant enough. We took an afternoon walk under the covered arcades. I stopped at one toy shop that looked like it had sold nothing in a decade. Everything was faded and dust covered. I saw Star Wars figurines released for  “The Phantom Menace”!

We continued our stroll up to the site of the old castle. The interior is now a prefectural office, but the outer walls and moat remain. It’s quite a pretty place to walk around and Alex had fun climbing on rocks.

Dinner was ordered from a ticket machine at what looked to be a chain cafe, but the Japanese and western dishes were very nice. We ordered a kids meal for Alex and he was very happy with it. Then time for some clothes shopping in the “Forus” department store, which has all the same Japanese chain brands as anywhere else, but at least I got some Shinkansen t-shirts for Alex.

Now I need to work out where we are going for the rest of our trip.

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