Things to Do in the Area
Our own notes on thing to do near the retreat…
This is a casual list and description of sites and attractions of interest within a few minutes of the retreat. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and the details may be subject to change over time. Please feel free to help us expand the scope and accuracy of this list by making requests, corrections, or even writing your own review of and guide to a particular site that may be of interest to other guests. Enjoy!
Very Near the Retreat: Ōjuki, Kōjuki, the beach, and the boardwalk…
Shōganji Zen Retreat is located in tiny Ōjuki Village, part of the fishing village cluster called Saganoseki. The next village to the east is Kōjuki, taking one of the tunnels through the mountain
Ōjuki is the tiny village that our retreat is actually located in. There is a crazy and wonderful second hand shop 5 minutes from the retreat near the ocean. Ask Jiho if you cannot find it. It has odd hours and looks like a bunch of junk, but it is inexpensive and packed with hidden gems if you take the time to look carefully. There are stacks of vintage scrolls in the back, and tons of interesting stuff. Prices are somewhat flexible especially if you buy a few items.
Kōjuki, next village to the east…
Explore the walkable nearby aspects of the Saganoseki village cluster. Take the tunnel into the next village over, Kōjuki;
Walking west along the ocean…
Toward Kozaki station (about an hour if you go all the way) and get on the boardwalk. Its a lovely walk and you will find little curiosities along the way. The walking route is a bit tricky; do not stay on the road all the way, find the walking path that diverges from the road on the inland side of the main road.
Saganoseki is the largest town in a cluster of fishing villages which is also colloquially referred to as Saganoseki. So “Saganoseki” can refer to the clump of towns and villages east of the city of Oita, or to the specific town located at the end of the peninsula.
There is a lot of fishing activity here and a little basic shopping. Notable attractions include a seaside recreational park and garden and a world-class telescope observatory. The park is around the observatory, and while not very good for swimming, it offers excellent walking opportunities, ocean views, and a very nice restaurant
Other Destinations; By Train, Bus, Car…
is a medium-sized city, about 25 minutes by train from Kōzaki station, nearest to the retreat. It’s your practical, go-to city destination nearest the retreat for shopping and eating, but is not of particular interest for sightseeing. The Oita Castle and ManJuJi monastery are possibly of interest but are not worth going too far out of your way for.
Explore the massive shopping mall built around the Oita central train station to find almost anything you could possibly need or want.
Yufuin: magical mountain town…
My personal favourite particularly for higher quality onsens and fantastic food.
About a 75-minute train ride from Kōzaki (or Jiho may be willing to drive there)
If you want a beautiful quiet little town among the mountains with great food, shopping, and a fantastic selection of superb onsens and ryokans, Yufuin is the place. The town centre is designed for walking with many of the streets car-free. Its beautifully laid out with mostly smaller traditionally Japanese building styles, and stunning gardens. Its pleasant to walk outside the city up on the less populated mountainsides taking advantage of great views of the city, and where you will stumble across more secluded onsen, ryokan, and eateries.
The food in Yufuin really stands out: All kinds of speciality food vendors and restaurants exist here offering up many specialized traditional Japanese delicacies, some that have been made the same way for hundreds of years. There is also a wonderful selection of take-home treats and local crafts; prepared and packaged regional speciality foods, condiments, sweets, spices, and alcoholic beverages. There is also a selection of more touristy modern Japanese fast food, and a few non-Japanese options. There are excellent higher end and antique and speciality craft shops in and around Yufuin.
Our Top Onsen Choice in Yufuin
is my favourite onsen in Yufuin, located within walking distance up in the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Its about 30 minutes walk, or 10 minutes by taxi from the Yufuin central train station. Information is available in English at the train station.
It is a large, clean, and beautiful outdoor onsen facility with exceptional water quality, that is friendly to foreigners and allows those with tattoos
to use the facilities freely. Its natural volcanic spring water has a unique blueish hue and offers special health benefits. Bathing facility is a large, single outdoor pool in a beautiful natural forest environment (separate facilities for men and women). Tsukanoma
is a simple and straightforward onsen experience, but carefully crafted and managed to offer what I consider an absolutely perfect hot spring bathing experience. Worth the effort to get here!
There is an option to stay overnight here and also a Japanese fine dining restaurant on site, but these are fairly high cost.
The city of Beppu, onsen capital of Japan…
Beppu city is heavily featured in tourist guides, and is about 40 minutes by train from Kōzaki station. There is just about everything that a tourist might want to relax and have a good time in a quintessentially Japanese fashion. There The major attraction is the extremely high concentration of onsens (natural hot spring bathhouses), the highest concentration in all of Japan. There is a huge variety of onsen here. Cost, degree of luxury, style, and amenities vary dramatically from place to place. Many are attached to ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) or hotels of varying quality. There is also excellent shopping, daytime walking around, and nightlife to be had in Beppu, all in a distinctly Japanese style.
The best sights to see, very near Beppu, but not central to it, are the Monkey Mountain and The Aquarium.
Our Top Onsen Choice in Beppu…
is perhaps our favourite onsen in Beppu is located in the well known Myoban area of Beppu located up in the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Its about 40 minutes by bus or 20 minutes by taxi from the Beppu central train station. Tourist and bus information is available in English at the train station. Worth the effort to get there!
It is a large, clean, and very well equipped onsen and spa facility that is friendly to foreigners and allows those with tattoos to use the facilities freely. The water quality is excellent, its natural volcanic spring water has a unique blueish hue and offers special health benefits. It’s also in a stunning location with exceptional views overlooking Beppu. It features indoor and outdoor bathing facilities with a lot of variety in temperature and pool type. In addition, there are 2 floors of bathing facilities, both floors being quite different, men and women having access to the different floors on alternating days. Ebisuya also features a convenient coffee shop and an interesting gift shop, a round meditation room with a large crystal formation in the center. For private onsen bathing (individual small bath and private room for families or couples) or overnight stays there is another entrance and reception just a five minute walk down the road (and down the mountain).