How to go from Beppu to Aso?
Panoramic volcanic scenery abound
The journey from Beppu to Aso will take you through Japan's volcanic areas. You've got a few options for this trip, but rest assured - no matter which one you choose, you'll get to enjoy some of the most impressive views in Japan, all from the comfort of your seat!
Two train lines from Beppu to Aso
There are 2 main train lines that can take you from Beppu to Aso. The JR Hohi Main Line will take about 4 hours and a half, allowing you to enjoy the train's panoramic views as it stops by various locales. If you're in a rush, the Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu) can take you to Aso in just about 2 hours. On certain days, you might even get to board the Aso Boy, a specially-themed train with many onboard activities. Do note, however, that only one direct train runs a day (departure from Beppu at 3:06PM, departure from Aso at 10:32AM). Both are covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
0 km - Beppu station
Beppu is the second most volcanic area in the world, after Yellowstone. Thanks to the heat, over 3 000 onsen (hot springs) pepper the city with their pearly plumes of steam. See below for more information.
12 km - 0h10 - Oita station
The Japanese come from all over the country to the hot spring city of Oita - a busy port on the inland sea, facing the island of Shikoku - to enjoy the famous fugu (puffer fish). Change here to the JR Kyudai Line for the small hot spring resort town of Yufuin.
You can also reach Fukuoka (Hakata Station) with the Limited Express Sonic from this station.
60 km - 1h15 - Ogata station
You'll find the Harajiri Falls nearby. Though they're nicknamed the "eastern Niagara Falls", they're quite a bit smaller than the name would imply, at only 20 meters high.
85 km - 1h45 - Bungo-Ogi station
You should definitely stop here for lunch if you get the chance. Here, you'll get the chance to try the Oita region's bungo beef. Its flavors rival that of the world-famous kobe beef!
107 km - 2h10 - Miyaji station
Once a year, tourists and locals gather at the Aso Shrine for the Hifuri-Shinji Fire Swinging Ritual. The shrine is a twenty-minute walk north of the station.
110 km - 2h15 - Aso station
Mt. Aso is one of the most impressive volcanoes in Japan and the caldera has a circumference of over 100 km. There are five active volcanic peaks within. Due to their activity, you'll sometimes find the area closed due to build-up of volcanic gas. If you have any breathing difficulties, we recommend you pass on this.
The most accessible of the five peaks is Mt. Nakadake, accessible with a 40-minute bus ride from Aso Station and then either a ropeway or a 30-minute walk. Upon reaching the top, you can look into the crater and see the volcanic energy at work - you may even recognize some shots from the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’!
What to see ?
For a traditional dip, try Hyotan Onsen with its ‘bury yourself’ sand bath and waterfall massage shower. Or, for a more modern but nonetheless undoubtedly Japanese soak, try Suginoi Palace, where you can bathe with a panoramic view of Beppu. If you are not going to be traveling down to Kagoshima, this is the place to have a hot sand bath on the beach.
After a thorough soaking, make your way to one or two of the ominously named ‘hells’; eight spectacular hot springs meant for viewing rather than bathing. No need to see all of them, but don’t miss the vivid blue Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell), surrounded by a beautiful garden and free onsen foot bath.
Where to stay ?
Suginoi Hotel 杉乃井ホテル
A sprawling ryokan resort nestled in the western hills of Beppu. Rooms of all sizes and prices, as well as a giant onsen with views of the whole city and the ocean.
Address: 1 Kankaiji, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, 874-0822
Website: https://suginoi.orixhotelsandresorts.com/ (Japanese only!)
Beppu Guest House 別府ゲストハウス
An inexpensive and homey hostel with private rooms and dorms, very close to both the station and hot springs.
Address: 1-12 Ekimae-cho, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, 874-0935
Where to eat ?
Grill Mitsuba グリルみつば
Serving one of Beppu’s well-known dishes, toriten (chicken tempura), a small grill that dates back 60 years. From the east exit of Beppu Station, walk down Ekimae-cho, take the third right, then the second left onto Shingu-machi. The restaurant is on the left.
Hours: Open 11:30AM to 1:30PM, 5:00PM to 8:00PM. Closed Tuesdays.
Website: https://www.mituba.info/ (Japanese only!)
Delicious mackerel sushi that changes depending on the local fish in season. From the east exit of Beppu Station, walk down Ekimae-cho, take the fourth right, then the second left onto Shingu-machi.
Hours: Open daily, 5AM to 11PM
Website: www.chikuden.com (Japanese only!)