Kunisaki Peninsula & Usa

Bungo-Takada: Showa-no-machi & Platinum Street
The Showa-no-machi quarter in Bungo-Takada, a small city settled into the north-west shoulder of the Kunisaki Peninsula, seems to have been stopped in a retro time warp centred on…

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At a glance

Bungo Takada's post-war retro feel makes it quite unique in Japan.

Bungo-Takada, Oita, Japan
Miura Baien
Muira Baien (1723-1789), born into the family of a physician, spent most of his life in a small village in central Kunisaki and followed his father in also becoming a physician. A…

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At a glance

One of Japan's earliest polymath who studied medicine, philosophy, economics and science.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Akimachi Tomikiyo, 2507-1 三浦梅園資料館
Sousou-An
The exterior clean, white modernist architectural lines of Sousou-An are an eye-catching anomaly in the rural Kunisaki Peninsula. Yet these walls delineate within a completely…

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At a glance

A stylish and eclectically furnished cafe in rural Kunisaki.

Sousou-An, 1433 Akimachi Shimobaru, Kunisaki, Oita, Japan
Fukae Fish Market
Oita’s 774km long coastline is lined with fishing ports, both great and small, but only a few have a fish market. One exception is at Fukae, in Hiji on the Kunisaki Peninsula, a…

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At a glance

Early risers can enjoy the bustle of a local fish market and buy the freshest fish at the lowest price.

Ougami Fukae Gyokou no asaichi, 5418 Oga, Hiji, Oita, Japan
Road Trip: Oita’s sake, shochu & wine country
There are many producers of alcoholic beverages dotted throughout Oita Prefecture, a result of the qualities of spring and well waters found here. Its is particularly famed for its…

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Kunisaki Peninsula-Usa GIAHS
Kunisaki and Usa was recognised as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) by the United Nations in 2013. Look at a map of the Kunisaki Peninsula and neighbouring…

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At a glance

Beside being a spiritual and beautiful rural region, the Kunisaki Peninsula has also been recognised a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Musashimachi Maruono, 国東半島
Cycling on Himeshima
Himeshima, with its very limited number of vehicles, relaxed and quiet lifestyle, limited hills to climb and very few vehicles, provides a delightful environment for a leisurely…

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At a glance

Rental cycles are available to explore this charming island.

Japan, Oita, 姫島村
Sonic Park Ajimu Go-Karting
A stone’s throw from the Ajimu Winery is the pocket-sized Sonic Park, where karting enthusiasts speed up to 80km per hour around its tightly twisting 1,080 metre track.

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At a glance

A fun introduction to the motorised sport world.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Ajimumachi Kinomo, 985-1 ソニックパーク安心院
Kyu-Sento-ji
The ‘Kyu’of Kyu-Sento-ji means ‘former’ and only the extensive grounds of what once was one of the greatest of Kunisaki’s temples remain. Today, a quiet lane leads to a forest…

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At a glance

The evocative site of what once was one of Kunisaki's greatest temples.

Kyu-Sento-ji Temple Ruins, 1346 Kunimimachi Sendo, Kunisaki, Oita, Japan
Himeshima Beach
Himeshima is a homely island and, amongst other attractive qualities, sports one of the nicest and least visited beaches in all Oita. The ferry from Imi on the Kunisaki Peninsula’s…

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At a glance

One of Oita's many attractive beaches on the quiet island of Himeshima.

Japan, Oita, 姫島村
Iwato-ji
Iwato-ji is one of the three temples on Kunisaki that still hold Shujo-onie. As with nearly all the temples on Kunisaki, two fearsome Nio guard the path to the temple. This couple,…

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At a glance

The third of the three temples in Kunisaki where the extraordinary Shujo-onie festival is held every lunar new year.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunisakimachi Iwatouji, 1222 岩戸寺
Nagasakibana Resort & Camping Ground
On the north side of Kunisaki betwixt Matama Sunset Café and Imi lies Nagasakibana, a long, finger-like peninsula jutting out into the Seto Inland Sea. Here the locals first took…

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At a glance

A small peninsula that attracts families and art lovers alike.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Mime, 4080-1 長崎鼻ビーチリゾート
Road Trip: Exploring Oita's coastline
Oita’s 775 kilometre (482 mile) long coastline is intricately varied and strung with myriad highlights including tremendous sea views, one remote beach after another, and unique…

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Doburoku Festival in Ota village
Visitors to Ota, a usually quiet village on the Kunisaki Peninsula, swell the local population by a factor of 30 or more over two days in mid-October when its popular Doburoku…

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At a glance

A festival of raw sake that brings this sleepy village alive for two days each year.

Japan, Oita, Kitsuki, 大田沓掛
Mamoru Shigemitsu
The scene on the deck of the USS Missouri at the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, when Japan formally yielded to the Allied forces on 2 September 1945, is a familiar scene…

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At a glance

The boyhood home made into a memorial for a Japanese statesman who served his country through the turbulent years before, during and after the Second World War.

Japan, Oita, Kitsuki, Honjo, 893番地1 重光邸 無迹庵(むせきあん)
Makiodo
Makiodo is a repository for Buddhist statutes, which are all that remain from a grand temple, Makisan Denjo-ji, that once dominated the surrounding area. It burnt to the ground in…

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At a glance

A temple housing some of the most impressive Buddhist statuary found in Japan.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Tashibuosaki, 田染荘展望台
Itsutsuji Fudo
Itsutsuji Fudo marks the furthest and highest extent of Kyu-Sento-ji’s grounds. A small shrine clings to the sheer rock face, from which panoramic views across Kunisaki over the…

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At a glance

A sacred site that affords great views across the surrounding area. An artwork by Anthony Gormley sited here adds an extra frission to the natural beauty.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunimimachi Imi, 伊美港
Rokugo-Manzan
The picturesque and verdant Kunisaki Peninsula is a haven of rural life that today belies its history as one of the greatest centres of Buddhism in Japan. The powerful religious…

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At a glance

The ancient Buddhist-Shinto spiritual tradition of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Musashimachi Maruono, 国東半島
Deities of Kunisaki and Beyond
Shakyamuni
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha ‘of our times’. He was born into the noble Indian clan of the Shakyas. Shakyamuni literally means “sage of the Shakyas”.

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At a glance

Kunisaki's pantheon of Buddhist deities.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Musashimachi Maruono, 国東半島
Harmony Land Theme Park
Harmony Land’s ferris wheel is hard to miss as it towers over the surrounding countryside and only heightens the excitement that fans of Sanrio’s characters entertain when visiting…

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At a glance

Fun for the family with younger children and the young at heart.

Harmony Land, 5933 Fujiwara, Hiji, Oita, Japan
Tomaya Tea House
To cross the threshold of Tomaya in Kitsuki is to go back in time. The current building, a delightfully quaint tea emporium, dates to 1875 but the business was first established in…

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At a glance

An atmospheric shop and cafe sepcialising in local green tea.

Japan, Oita, 杵築市Kitsuki, 385 お茶のとまや
Pokala
The husband and wife proprietors of Pokala relate how the locals thought they were crazy to open a curry restaurant in Usa’s rural hinterland some 30 years ago. After all, who on…

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At a glance

Although out of the way this curry restaurant is well-worth the journey.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Shogakuji, 1199-1 ぽから
Hachiman Nada Shrine
Hachiman Nada Shrine, located at on the south-east coast of Kunisaki, is one of the peninsula’s most atmospheric sites of Shinto worship. Secreted into a pine forest aside the…

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At a glance

A simple shrine in a gorgeous setting aside the Seto Inland Sea.

Japan, Oita, Kitsuki, Nada, 229 八幡奈多宮
Tour de Kunisaki
Kunisaki’s quiet country roads through verdant countryside and aside the Seto Inland Sea are ideal for cycling and each year, over 2,500 cycle enthusiasts enter Oita’s largest…

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At a glance

As much a tour of the beautiful Kunisaki Peninsula as a test of sporting prowess.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Musashimachi Maruono, 国東半島
Oita’s onsen: A Hot Spring Heaven
Onsen are a feature found throughout the length and breadth of Japan. Oita, however, boasts the largest concentration of hot springs and they in turn are fed by the greatest volume…

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At a glance

The onsen hot spring capital of the world.

Japan, 大分県
Tashibu-no-Sho
Tashibu-no-sho, a charming district with some of the most picturesque countryside found anywhere in Japan, was once under the direct control of Usa Jingu, Oita's grand shrine.…

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At a glance

One of Japan's most picturesque rural scenes.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Tashibuosaki, 田染荘展望台
Ajimu Winery
Top grade grapes for the table are grown widely in Kyushu and are a staple fruit during the summer months. Grapes for viticulture, the production of wine, are, however, much rarer…

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At a glance

Oita's first winery and a must visit for anyone wanting aquaint themselves with Japanese wines from the grape.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Ajimumachi Shimoge, 828 安心院ワイナリー駐車場
Golfing in Oita
Golf has a long history in Japan with the first golf course established in Kobe in 1903 by a British expatriate yearning to play his favourite sport. Ever since the game’s…

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At a glance

Enjoy Oita's natural scenic attractions from the fairways of 23 courses spread throughout the prefecture. An unrushed day's play for beginners and experienced players alike.

Japan, 大分県
Baien-no-Sato & Miura Baien Museum
Baien-no-Sato is a small, onsen hot spring resort atop a hill in the centre of the Kunisaki Peninsula. It also has the additional and very unusual attraction for a hotel of a 65cm…

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At a glance

Accommodation, onsen hot spring baths and a giant telescope combine in a tribute to a local son who became one of Japan's Edo Period polymaths.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Akimachi Tomikiyo, 2244 梅園の里
Kunisaki & Yabakei Bus Tours
The Oita Kotsu bus company runs two regular, scheduled tours to Kunisaki and Yabakei. Both are convenient ways to explore both areas with start and finish points at Oita and Beppu…

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At a glance

A convenient way to explore two of Oita's most attractive regions.

Japan, Oita, 宇佐市
African Safari
At the largest wildlife park in west Japan an exotic and exciting experience is provided for children through to adults alike in the heart of Oita. Visitors come into close –…

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At a glance

A great wildlife adventure for the family.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Ajimumachi Minamihata, 2−1755-1 アフリカンサファリ
Kumano Magaibutsu
Kunisaki is a treasure trove of Buddhist artefacts and the twin Kumano Magaibutsu Buddhist relief carvings, depictions of Dainichi Nyorai and Fudo Myo-o, are the largest amongst…

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At a glance

A little-known yet wonderful Buddhist site in the heart of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Tashibuhirano, 2546-3 熊野磨崖仏
Soba Cafe Yuhi
Soba Yuhi Cafe takes its name from the glorious sunsets, which here bask the placid waters of the Seto Inland Sea, and also the soba buckwheat noodle dishes that crowns its menu.…

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At a glance

Coffee and light meals whilke enjoying spectacular sunsets over the Seto Inland Sea.

Japan, 大分県豊後高田市Usuno, 5125 真玉海岸
Michi-no-eki Wayside Stations
Michi-no-eki wayside stations are a popular institution in Japan and, with 24 of them, Oita Prefecture has more than its fair share. Locals proudly run these shops, akin to…

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At a glance

Locals and visitors alike flock to these wayside stations for local good-value produce and meals.

Japan, 大分県
Kunisaki Peninsula - a cycling haven
In years past, it was common to see the professional Keirin athletes from the velodrome in Beppu training in pelotons on the roads of Kunisaki until fixed-wheeled bikes, which they…

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At a glance

A haven for cyclists, from the novice to experienced, to explore.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Musashimachi Maruono, 国東半島
Anthony Gormley & the Kunisaki Art Project
It is surprising to find a work of art by Anthony Gormley, the famed British sculptor, in the very depths of the Kunisaki Peninsula. “Another Time XX” – a life sized cast iron…

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At a glance

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, 国見町 アントニー・ゴームリーの鉄の像
Tekizanso villa
Tekizanso is a gracefully classic one story building that dates from the Taisho Period (1912-1925). Sited in a corner of what was once the grounds of Hiji-jo, the local daimyo…

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At a glance

A grand villa, built by a gold mining tycoon for himself, that has become one of Oita's top restaurants.

Japan, Oita, Hiji, 2663 的山荘
Tennen-ji & Kawanaka Fudo
Like so much to be found in Kunisaki, nothing fully prepares one for Tennen-ji temple, a beautifully rustic and understated thatched structure protruding from a cave at the base of…

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At a glance

Another of Kunisaki's serenly atmospheric temples. This one is famed for its rubustious Shujo-onie festival.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Nagaiwaya, 3102 川中不動
Monjusen-ji
For anyone fortunate enough to be at Monjusen-ji at dawn, the deep, resounding sound of bell echoing across its tranquil setting, a remote valley deep in the heart of Kunisaki,…

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At a glance

An atmospheric temple set in the deepest reaches of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunisakimachi Daionji, 2432 文殊仙寺
Toyo Ito
Ito began his career in Kiyonori Kikutake architectural practice, and he has employed younger leading architects Kuzuo Seijima and Ryue Nishizawa, who together created the SANAA…

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At a glance

Another of Japan's top architects.

Japan, Oita, Kitsuki, Yamagamachi Oaza Noharu, 1612-1 杵築市立山香病院
Sadaji Futabayama
Throughout the ages there are some athletes so accomplished they transcend their sport and establish records so substantial that they are considered unbreakable. Futabayama…

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At a glance

The boyhood home of Japan's greatest ever sumo wrestler.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Shimosho, 双葉山生家
Gallery Kan
Although its name may suggests otherwise, Gallery Kan provides exclusive private gourmet experiences. In a village on a rise overlooking Beppu Bay, the owners have turned a wing of…

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At a glance

Discreet and attentive private dining.

Japan, Oita, Hiji, Oga, 4012-4 ギャラリーKAN
Kitsuki Terrace
Kitsuki Terrace is a recent addition to the seafood barbecuing establishments, popular with locals and visitors alike, that are found strung out along much of Oita’s coastline.…

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At a glance

A popular modern seafood emporium in Kitsuki aside the Seto Inland Sea.

Japan, Oita, Kitsuki, Morie, 4785 KITSUKI TERRACE (キツキテラス)
Usa Jingu
Usa Jingu retains an atmospheric grandeur befitting its status as the principal shrine of Hachiman, the Shinto protector god of Japan. The recipient of imperial patronage since the…

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At a glance

One of Japan's most important Shinto shrines.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Minamiusa, 2859 宇佐神宮
Road Trip: The sacred & secular art of Kunisaki
The Kunisaki Peninsula is imbued with a placid spirituality embodied by 1,300 year-old Rokugo-Manzan, an esoteric Buddhist-Shinto religion now uncommon elsewhere in Japan. Quiet…

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Accommodation in Abundance & Variety
Oita has long been a popular destination for Japanese visitors and, as a consequence, the choice of accommodation found around the prefecture is plentiful and varied. These include…

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Japan, Oita, Yufu, Yufuincho Kawaminami, 108-1 ゆふいん山水館
Futago-ji
Like many of Kunisaki’s temples, Futago-ji traces its founding back to Rokugo-Manzan’s founding monk Ninmon. Futago-ji became Kunisaki’s lead temple in the Warring States Period…

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At a glance

The Kunisaki Peninsula's principal temple set in extensive grounds at the foot of a mountain.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunisakimachi Jobutsu, 両子山
Routes and areas to cycle in Oita
For bicycle touring aficionados, Japan, with its varied countryside is a great place to visit. Oita’s many quiet country lanes, lack of vehicle traffic on all but the major…

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At a glance

Oita's mostly quiet country roads make it a great place to explore on a cycle.

Japan, 大分県
Mamenomonya
Mamenomonya’s wife and husband team moved from Oita City to pursue their dream of owning a restaurant in the bucolic countryside of Ota village in Kitsuki. They brought life back…

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At a glance

A rustic and delicious cafe in the countryside of the Kunisaki Peninsula.

Mameno Monya, 244 Otaono, Kitsuki, Oita, Japan
Art Museum of Nature and Human Non-Homogeneity
The Art Museum of Nature and Human Non-Homogeneity is a grand title for a small but wonderfully immersive and interactive art space that explores and celebrates man’s universal…

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At a glance

A fascinating immersive and interactive art installation.

Art Museum of Nature and Human Non-Homogeneity, 4060 Mime, Bungotakada, Oita, Japan
Kitsuki
Kitsuki is a compact, quiet and genteel town that still retains the atmosphere it once had as samurai stronghold. The kitadai samurai quarter is reached via a flight of old…

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At a glance

Once the strong hold of a samurai clan closely associated with the ruling shogun, this old seaside castle town retains a pleasant air of its past.

Japan, Oita, 杵築市
Choan-ji
Choan-ji was, for a while, the principle temple of Kunisaki. It grew in power in the Heian Period when it became the centre of a Buddhist cult - the bronze plagues, which were…

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At a glance

Once the most powerfull temple in Kunisaki, it is now mostly known for its beautiful grounds.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Karegawa, 635金剛山 長安寺
Imi
Imi was an important port in the Edo Period (1603-1868), which is attested to by the impressive Hachiman Shinto shrine in extensive grounds adjacent to a small port. Today,…

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At a glance

A quiet, attractive harbour town that has become home to a cotorie of artists from around Japan.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunimimachi Imi, 伊美港
Cycling in Innai
Electric-assist cycles are available to rent at Innai’s Michi-no-eki wayside station to explore the surrounding picturesque countryside, which boasts the greatest concentration of…

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At a glance

A charming region to cycle arouund centred on the local Michi-no-eki.

Japan, Oita, Usa, Innaimachisoi, 1381-2 道の駅 いんない
Keisho-ji
A sign at the foot of the short flight of steps leading up to an unassuming hut, the sole structure left in the grounds of this now sleepy but once much grander temple, indicates…

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At a glance

A intriguing immersive experience of the Buddhist afterlife for man on earth.

Japan, 大分県Usa, Ajimumachi Higashiera, 地獄極楽(桂昌寺跡)
Fuki-ji
Fuki-ji temple’s main hall is perhaps the simplest and most elegant Buddhist structure found anywhere 
in Japan. Built in the 12th Century, it is also the oldest wooden structure…

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At a glance

One of Japan's most serenely beautiful temples.

Japan, Oita, Bungotakada, Tashibufuki, 2395 富貴寺
Suzumegusa art gallery
The colourful banners fluttering in the sea breeze will draw anyone’s attention to the quiet and unassuming building that serves as home, studio and gallery for the original and…

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At a glance

Vibrantly coloured designs closely reflect the cheerful personalities of the husband and wife artists who have set up their studio and shop in Imi.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunimimachi Imi, 伊美港
Midoriso Nada Beach House
Midoriso Nada Beach House has a fantastic location in a pine forest only a few steps from the extensive sands of Nata Beach aside the Seto Inland Sea. Its closest neighbour is the…

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At a glance

Laidback comfortable accommodation aside a 2km-long sand beach and the pacific Seto Inland Sea.

Nada Midoriso, 231-10 Nada, Kitsuki, Oita, Japan
Camping
Travelling on a cycle, motor bike or car and then pitching a tent for the night or exploring in a recreational vehicles have never been major leisure activities in Japan on the…

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