Difference between revisions of "Oita"
Revision as of 09:06, 24 May 2008
Oita (大分市 Oita-shi) is the capital city of Oita prefecture.
Despite its reputation as an out-of-the-way city, Oita has multiple points of access.
Located approximately 25 miles northeast of Beppu, Oita Airport is the main commercial airport in Oita Prefecture and has daily service to and from Tokyo, Osaka (both Kansai and Itami), Nagoya, Okinawa and a single international flight to Seoul, Korea.
Travel between the airport and surrounding cities and towns are handled by bus and hovercraft, unfortunately lacking any train access as of yet. The bus has an approximate travel time of 45 and 60 minutes to Beppu and Oita, respectively. The hovercraft trip is significantly faster, only taking 25 minutes, and deposits passengers at a landing in Oita just east of the Oita River. Access between this landing and the city's downtown takes approximately 10 minutes via taxi or bus and about 1 hour on foot.
Three JR Kyushu train lines run through Oita Station, located downtown: Nippo Honsen, Hohi Honsen and Kyudai Honsen. The Nippo Honsen could be considered Oita's main rail access line, running JR Kyushu's Sonic trains from Hakata Station and reaching as far south as Miyazaki. Sonic express trains take approximately two hours to and from Hakata Station. The Kyudai Honsen has local service running to the west and reaching as far as Saga Prefecture. Finally, the Hohi Honsen runs local and express service as far as Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture.
Oita is most easily accessed by car via the East Kyushu Expressway, a well-maintained toll highway that runs from Fukuoka and through Oita, as far as the city of Usuki. Though expensive to use the highway is undeniably swift.
Buses from virtually every major city on Kyushu have service to Oita, the main ones being the multiple highway buses that run to and from Fukuoka. Oita Bus, Oita Kotsu, Kamenoi Bus and a handful of others offer this highway service and travel time is approximately two hours, nearly identical to JR Kyushu's Sonic.
Diamond Ferry runs a daily ferry between Oita and Kobe/Osaka, making stops in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture and Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture. This service is a "sleeper ship", starting in Osaka in the late afternoon and running through the night until passengers disembark in the morning.
Near the river are the ruins of an ancient castle. There are some cherry trees in the park surrounding the castle.
About half-way between Oita and Beppu is Takasakiyama, where a colony of Japanese macaques can be visted in a pleasant surrounding. At the base of the mountain is the visitors' center and Oita's Marine Palace, an aquarium with a dolphin show and trained fish.
Worth seeing is the Oita Prefectural Library, designed by architect Arata Isozaki, an early Metabolist masterpiece, finished around 1965. A remarkable brutalist concrete building, it was converted into an Isozaki museum in 1999.
Oita has two large, Western-style malls. You can try out "Wasada Town", a traditional fully-enclosed shopping center with an attached "K`s Denki" for any electronics that you need, as well as a "Tokiwa" that has the latest fashion and clothing for any situation. As you know Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so don't be surprised about high prices even though it's a small city. The other big mall, "Park Place", is newer than Wasada Town, has store entrances within and without its main enclosed area and it is located 20 minutes walking from the "Big Eye" multi-purpose stadium. Here you`ll find another comprehensive shopping experience, plus it has some more attractions for the younger crowds. The movie theater features both domestic and international titles and if you have a student or exchange student ID make sure to show it to get a discount.
Oita overflows with cheap and tasty ramen restaurants and stalls, most specializing in tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen that compete in flavor with Fukuoka's famous variety.
Takoyaki aficionados would be wise not to miss the Tettako chain of takoyaki stalls scattered throughout the city.
Chicken nanban, a kind of fried chicken cooked with rice vinegar and served with a tartar sauce-like topping that originally hails from Miyazaki Prefecture, has taken off spectacularly in Oita. This dish can be found at almost any low-budget restaurant around the city
Karaage, that ever-present Japanese answer to chicken nuggets or buffalo wings, can be had on the cheap at any of the Oita Karaage chain stands around the city.
Downtown Oita abounds with mid-priced izakaya, particularly in the Miyako-machi and Funai areas. Notable among these izakaya is Kamifusen, a small, popular chain that caters to groups large and small.
For diners willing to pay a premium for authentic Japanese gourmet, a handful of Oita restaurants serve Seki-aji and Seki-saba, special kinds of mackerel caught in and around the swift currents of the Hoyo Channel between Kyushu and Shikoku. Also available in Oita, though in rarer quantities than the special breeds of mackerel, is fugu(blowfish), caught by fisherman in the city of Usuki.
Like most Japanese cities, Oita has compressed virtually all of its drinking establishments into one general entertainment district called Miyako-machi. Located approximately one kilometer north of Oita Station, Miyako-machi's streets are lined with multi-story buildings packed with countless bars, hostess clubs, snack bars and izakaya.
Comodo Hotel (〒870-0026 大分市金池町1丁目2番1号, TEL 097-514-4000, FAX 097-514-3223 ) - Very convenient business hotel, right next to the main train station. Singles 5,190 yen, doubles 7,440 yen. Clean and neat rooms. Price includes breakfast and free use of an amazing onsen hot spring on the top floor. The men's section even has a rooftop rotenburo outdoor bath!