History & Religion

Oita Usuki
Usuki’s grand temples hints at the power it once held and wealth it accumulated in the Edo Period, when the samurai ruled the land. Today, it is a compact and quiet town of stone-paved streets, lined by a number of traditional buildings, that are pleasant to stroll around.

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OIta 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 institutions that once dominated the region have long since faded away.

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Oita Usa Jingu
Usa Jingu retains an atmospheric grandeur befitting its status as the principal shrine of Hachiman, the Shinto protector god of Japan.

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Oita 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 two-kilometre long white sand Nata Beach, the shrine faces east to Shikoku across the steely-blue Seto Inland Sea.

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Oita Buddhaist deities
Shaka NyoraiShakyamuni 

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

Buddhas, Shinto gods and ancient sect leaders of Kunisaki and Japan.

Oita Yabakei
Yabakei, is an extensive, scenic area centred on a valley carved over 2. 5 million years by the Yamakuni River. Riven by forested valleys and interspersed with numerous cliffs and rock formations, the Yabakei area is renowned nationally for its beautiful spring foliage and autumn leaves.

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Oita Kuroshima v3
Kuroshima with a population of six people is an assuming island off the coast of Usuki. Most visitors make the short boat journey in summer months to enjoy Kuroshima’s sandy beaches and to fish.

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At a glance

The island where William Adams, the British sailor who became confident of Japan's greatest shogun, was shipwrecked in 1600.

Oita Usuki Buddha
Although Kunisaki, in the north of Oita Prefecture, has by far the greatest number of stone buddhas found anywhere in Japan, Usuki also has its fair share including an image of Dainichi Nyorai, which is considered to be the finest example of its type in Japan.

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Oita Ukai
200 years ago the then daikan, the shogun’s representative in Hita, brought the ancient art of ukai cormorant fishing to Kyushu from Edo, the old name for Tokyo.

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Oita Tennenji
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 a monumental cliff.

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Oita Saiki sushi
Any gourmet passionate about fish has to make the journey to Saiki, which boasts the widest range of fresh fish found anywhere in Japan.

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OHT Rakkanji
Rakan-ji, a temple said to have been established by Hodo, an Indian monk, in 645A. D. , is sited spectacularly within a complex of caves high up on the side of Mt. Rakan.

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Oita Okajo
Only the ramparts of Oka-jo remain, but their scale and impressiveness allude to the power that this hill-top citadel once held over the surrounding region.

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Oita Oita City
The seat of the Oita’s Prefectural Government and its economic powerhouse. Oita is the birth place of Arata Isozaki, one of Japan’s top architects and the winner of the 2019 Pritzker Prize. The Oita Prefectural Library, an early work of his, has been refashioned as an art gallery.

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Oita Monjusenji
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, heralds the start of the temple’s day.

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Oita 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.

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Oita Kyusentoji v2
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 footpath, which winds first under a torii shrine gate, before passing a group of stone Buddhas and stupas.

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Oita Kunisaki Long Trail
The Kunisaki Hantou Minemichi Long Trail, to give its full name, is a meandering, 134km-long hiking route that weaves through the Kunisaki Peninsula following in the footsteps of the Rokugo-Manzan monks, who first came here for their ascetic practices 1,300 years ago.

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Oita kumano magaibutsu3 v2
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 these.

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Oita Keishoji3
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 the way in Japanese characters to Jigoku Gokuraku, or Hell and Heaven.

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Oita Iwatoji
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, however, are the oldest in the area and date from 1478.

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At a glance

One of the three temples on Kunisaki where the peninsula's famed Shujo Onie festivals is still held.

Oita 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 Seto Inland Sea beyond to Honshu are a fitting reward for making the climb.

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Oita Futagoji2
Like many of Kunisaki’s temples, Futago-ji traces its founding back to Rokugo-Manzan’s founding monk Ninmon.

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Oita Funai castle
Oita City has developed at the expense of its history and unfortunately little remains of its past as a samurai stronghold. The ramparts and moat of Funai-jo castle can still be found in the city centre but few of the buildings that once stood within its defences.

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Oita Fuko ji
Fuko-ji temple is found at the end of a quiet country lane in Asaji, Bungo-Ono. Even though its imposing gate is significant for such a remote, rural temple it provides no indication of the impressive scenery to be found beyond.

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At a glance

A hidden gem of a temple deep in the Oita countryside.

Oita Fukiji
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 in Kyushu.

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Oita Choanji
Choan-ji was, for a while, the principle temple of Kunisaki.

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