Travel on the railways and roads of Oita Prefecture is usually through verdant forested mountains or occasionally cityscapes. However, the scenery changes in dramatic fashion at Tsukumi, where the hillsides have been dug, gouged, and scraped into gaping voids surrounded by towering cliffs of bare, grey rock. Although a complete contrast to the Oita countryside at large, this fascinating scenery is at once harsh, electrifying and awesome.

Tsukumi’s economy relies on mining and this small city is one of the principal sources in Japan of limestone rock, which is used in the production of cement. Giant, covered conveyer belts criss-cross over the city centre transporting quarried rock to processing plants and ships in the harbour. From the same harbour ply ferries to another interesting, if unusual environment for Oita, Hotojima island. Just outside of town is the Tsukumi Iruka-jima marine-life centre, a satellite facility of Umitamago Aquarium between Beppu and Oita City.

Tsukumi, Oita, Japan

At a glance

The extensive mining of limestone here has added another and very different dimension to Oita's landscape.

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