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January 6, 2015

Christmas in Yufuin

On Christmas Day (after a great Christmas Eve party with friends the night before) we boarded a special train bound for Yufuin, Oita. Our overnight trip turned out to be a very successful attempt to avoid Christmas-related homesickness. If I wasn't able to be with my family this Christmas, at least I could be soaking in an onsen and sharing delicious ryokan food with Kam.

The train ride itself was something to write home about; the Yufuin no Mori is a beautiful green "resort express train" with luxury interior and amazing Kyushu countryside views. We watched the mountains, small towns and trees go by as a Japanese "Santa" on board handed out sweets to the children. A bottle of Yufuin Cider (similar to lemonade) went down well when we wandered down to see the buffet car.

Sunny weather melted the previous week's snow in Yufuin but, as the train pulled into the station, the snow capped peak of Yufudake was nonetheless impressive.

After a relaxing night enjoying the open air onsen at our ryokan, we set out on Boxing Day to explore Yufuin and were blessed with even more sunshine. Yufuin is a huge tourist destination here in Kyushu, so we joined the crowds walking up the main street towards Yufudake. There are many little shops and stalls along the way - some are too geared towards tourists, but some are very sweet.

I couldn't resist taking one of these little "Nebukuroman" (Sleeping Bag Man in English) home with me, from a little gallery space on the way.

We stopped by the Yufuin Floral Village, a collection of souvenir shops. There was a little "zoo" there which we didn't enter (not too keen on Japanese zoos), but we met a rather friendly goat. The shopfronts are made to look like a little old storybook village and the stores are themed around everything from Kiki's Delivery Service to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Rabbit.

Thanks for a great Christmas, Yufuin!


1 comment:

  1. That’s just superb way of celebrating Christmas day!! I am very happy to know about this trend. I always celebrate Christmas day with my family and friends at a local party venue rentals but this is also an incredible idea.