Where I Live (pt 2)
Specifically, I live in the central eastern prefecture (ken) of Oita. Historically is was known as Bungo. Sadly, the area was split between several rulers, or daimyo, and a large castle town never formed.
My town of residence is Hiji, with a population of 26,872. By train its 13 minutes from Beppu (pop. 126,854) and 26 minutes from Oita City (pop. 441,270). It is usually easier for me to tell people I live in Beppu because it is a well known vacation area for the Japanese (as well as being continuous development between the two).
Hiji is perhaps best known as the home of Sanrio’s Harmonyland, a Hello Kitty theme park (see pic below). The town is small but the restaurants are good and I live 5 minutes walking from Beppu Bay. The environment gives a good taste of rural Japan with bigger cities close by.
Beppu is where the action is at. It’s claim to fame is as the onsen (hot spring) capital of Japan. Only Yellowstone in the United States has a larger volume of hot water in the world. People come from all over to bath naked with other strangers in onsen. Don’t forget to look at the 8 jigoku, or hell onsen, that are too hot to bathe in!
In addition, Beppu is home to an aquarium; a sex museum; Mt. Takasaki (home to a few hundred wild monkeys); and Asian Pacific University, providing young English speakers to socialize with.
Oita City itself is nice but nothing spectacular. Shopping seems to be the biggest draw as there is little of historical significance.
I consider it lucky to live in Oita. Centrally located, all the major cities of Kyushu are easily reached. More importantly, an overnight ferry leaves everyday from Beppu to Osaka (as well as the island of Shikoku), my favorite area in Japan.