The second town outside of Beppu that I visited after getting here was Beppu’s rival onsen town, Yufuin, which has the second most amount of hot spring sources in the whole of Japan, after Beppu. Yufuin is a more traditional-looking town in comparison, and is popular even with Japanese tourists.
Me and one of the ALTs from Beppu had been invited to go watch a play in the evening, but we decided to head over for midday so as to explore the town beforehand.
The first problem we had was that we got the wrong train. The one we took only went part of the way before coming back again, so we ended up back where we started and had to wait for the proper train.
Upon finally arriving in Yufuin, we were met by the lady who had invited us, and she took us through a large gift shop and to a nearby sweet shop and introduced us to the shop assistants before treating us to a delicious lunch at her very own restaurant.
The second problem we had was that after lunch, it was raining. The two of us set off to go find the main shop area (using some hand-drawn maps from our host and some other maps I happened to have, as I had an unusable phone at this point) and managed to get lost in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain. After asking an attendant at a nearby hotel, we managed to get back on track, and after another half hour or so we managed to find the shops. By the time we got there though, it was already time to meet up with our host, so we traipsed into the hotel cafe we’d been told to meet at, soaking wet and feeling very out of place
After drying off a bit and having some tea, it was time to head off to the venue where the play was being performed. Well, halfway there our host seemingly randomly stopped, and her, us and her friends ended up having a beautiful home-made bento (normally a packed lunch, but in this case dinner) that our host had made especially – featuring vegetable onigiri (rice balls, also mistakenly referred to as ‘jelly doughnuts’ in the English dubbed version of the Pokemon anime), plain nori (dried seaweed)-wrapped onigiri, and red bean onigiri, as well as handmade rolled omelette and handmade pickled daikon (radish), cucumber and shallots. It was all so delicious, and the pickled shallots reminded us of home since they tasted like pickled onions (well, I guess they were pretty much pickled onions).
After dinner, it was time to go to the play. We ended up taking a wrong turning at one point (and waiting in a running car stopped on a hill while directions were asked for, which was pretty scary), but we got there in the end. The play was all in Japanese, but it was still interesting, and seemed to be about an old warrior who’d been asked to look after a little girl? The little girl was really sweet and performed really well for such a young kid (she only looked about 5), and the other performers were all really amazing. It seemed to be a family acting troupe, which was really cool. Once the play had finished, the actors all stood by the door as everyone left and thanked us all for coming, shaking our hands and such as we went out.
It was a long and tiring day, but it was really interesting. I’ve since been back to Yufuin on a non-rainy day, so I’ll write about it here again at some point I’m sure!