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2019/03/25

Urgent Announcement

To: All viewers to our Blog
Re: Disbandment of the Club

We are very sorry to announce that our club will be disbanded as of the end of May, 2019, due to the shortage of active tour guides of the club.

We greatly appreciate your support in the past eight years.

Kuni Kumamoto
President
Beppu SGG (Friendly Guide) Club

P.S. After our disbandment, if you need an English speaking tour guide in Beppu and the surrounding areas, please visit the personal website hosted by Mr. Eiji Okamoto at  https://beppuenglishguide.jimdofree.com/

2019/02/23

Kitsuki is hot now!!!

One day excursion combined the onsen town Beppu with the unique castle town Kitsuki is highly recommendable!!!


To our regret, the majority of foreign visitors usually stay in Beppu only overnight. They enjoy various onsen or hot springs including the Hell Tour in a day or two and leave Beppu for other destinations. But the attraction in Beppu is not only the onsen related. There are more in and around Beppu.


Kitsuki Castle
Kitsuki, a unique castle town, is the first on the list. Its characteristics are:
・Only so-called the sandwich shaped samurai town in Japan.
・The Kitsuki castle is the tiniest one in Japan.
・A series of samurai residences still remain in the town.
・Volunteer-based English speaking guides are available.
・The compact sightseeing area makes necessary time for sightseeing flexible, 30 to 120 minutes.
・The town is located within 30 minutes ride from both the Beppu city center and Oita Airport.
・Visitors in kimono can get free or discounted admission fees to many     sightseeing spots.

Ohara-tei: A Restored Samurai House
Tourists in Kimono at the castle town


2018/11/24

What wonderful women they were!!!

We welcomed nine charming women from Singapore to Yufuin and Beppu!!!

They arrived at Fukuoka International Airport on November 15th and visited Yufuin and Beppu for three days. While staying at Ryokan Ikkoten in Yufuin for a couple of nights, they enjoyed walking in Yufuin Basin, Tsukahara Highland, Kijima Highland through Inoseto Marsh Land, and finally, walked down from the Beppu Ropeway station to the Beppu city center guided by our three guides.

Walking through a little path in Tsukahara Highland

While walking for three days, they had lunch at Nenrin in Yufuin, Kijima Kogen Golf Club and Ohtoya in Beppu.

Taking photos and chatting in woods in Tsukahara Highland

Although the weather forecast in the area was bad a few days before their arrival, we eventually had wonderful three days during their stay. They must have brought sunshine from Singapore.

A happy moment surrounded beautifully colored maidenhair trees in Kijima Highland Park
They were around fifty years young and cute and cheerful like college students. Wherever they went, they chatted, laughed and taking photos each other.

Variety of foods made girls happy at the restaurant in Kijima Kogen Golf Club
Our guides also tremendously enjoyed the walking trip with them.

A Sea of clouds over Yufuin Basin

Cheerful girls at Mt Tsurumi observatory pointing God in heaven to thank him for awesome nature.


2018/11/01

Series: Unique Shops in Beppu No.3 Yamasho, Bamboo Craft Specialist Shop

Yamasho is one of the oldest bamboo craft shopps in Beppu. The reason of its uniqueness is the philosophy of the mistress, Masa Katayama. Although a number of new bamboo craft shops have come into the market and put trendy and fashionable goods into it, she's been sticking to the traditional and highly artistic ones which are created by many notable producers.  
The entrance of Yamasho
Ms. Masa Katayama, Mistress of the shop, surrounded by a series of bamboo products


Bamboo crafts have been getting popular among foreign people, both visitors and locals. The mistress says, "You will never get tired of looking at the good bamboo art crafts and I want you to live with them as they will also grow in its color turning into beautiful amber as time goes by. 


Party plates and food containers
Being located on Nagaregawa Street, which used to be the city center in old Beppu, Yamasho has long been a popular bamboo craft shop. Although the major line of items is artistic crafts, they have various accessories, daily necessities, interior decoration, etc. in the shop.   
Flower Vase, a typical bamboo art craft

Bamboo were first used by peddlers as carrying baskets in the Muromachi era (14th to 16th century) in Japan and it had become popular in Beppu since it got crowded with many onsen visitors in  the Edo era (17th to 19th century).


There are over 600 kinds of bamboo in Japan and out of them, madake is mainly used to produce bamboo goods because of its endurance and flexibility. Additionally, its mild, white-yellow color eases those who look at them. Since Oita-prefecture is the greatest producer of madeke in Japan,  bamboo crafts have become one of the biggest industry in Oita.


Flower vases

Chopsticks and saucers made of bamboo


2018/09/14

Series: Unique Shops in Beppu #2 Kyushu Shochu-kan

Shochu’is a Japanese traditional alcoholic beverage, which is mainly produced in the prefectures in Kyushu and Okinawa prefecture. While Japanese sake (seishu) is a brewed liquor, shochu is a distilled liquor like whisky. It is usually taken on the rock or with cold/hot water. For women and foreign people, taking with soda or fruit beverages is recommended.



Front entrance of Kyushu Shochu-kan

In Kyushu Shochu-kan, over 500 brands of shochu  produced in Kyushu and Okinawa are sold, and Mr. Kikuchi, the store manager, will give you appropriate advice on the way of drinking and brands suitable for you. 


Raw materials of shochu are sweet potato, barley, rice, brown sugar, etc. and each material has its own flavor. Some specific shochu are respectively labeled such as 'Satsuma shochu' made from sweet potato in Kagoshima, 'Kuma shochu' made from rice in Kumamoto, 'Oita mugi-shochu' made from barley in Oita-prefecture, where Beppu is located.


Store shelf displaying various shochu and other alcoholic beverages


Many shochu are sold in 720 ~ 900 ml bottles and some are in small bottles or even in big 1800 ml bottles.  

The range of alcoholic degree of shochu is from 20 ~ 25% and there are some with higher degree out of which you can select as you like.

Benitsurumi (made from sweet potato with 30% alcohol) and Nitonana (barley with 27%) are exclusively sold in Kyushu Shochu-kan.


Superior grade shochu : 'Nitonana' and 'Benitsurumi'


In addition to shochu, in Kyushu Shochu-kan, they also have other alcoholic beverages including sake (seishu), wine, whisky, liqueur and Oita's traditional folk arts such as Onta-yaki earthenwares, cedar clogs, boxwood handicrafts, etc.



Whisky

Wine

Onta-yaki earthenware

Hita clog

Boxwood crafts






2018/08/14

Fireworks in Beppu


Fireworks displays are one of the Japanese summer traditions.
Beppu locals also love fireworks.

This is from Beppu Hinoumi Matsuri, the biggest summer festival in the city. It is held in the end of July every year.

During this three days festival, many attractions such as dance performances are held at the Spa Beach, close to Beppu Tower. Food stools are also there for you to enjoy the lively atmosphere.

The climax of the festival is the 6000 fireworks launched from the sea, along with the music played at the beach. The view of fireworks in the night sky and the reflection on the sea surface are spectacular.




2018/08/06

Series: Unique Shops in Beppu #1 Maruniya Tea Shop

Maruniya Tea Store

Located at Ekimachi 1-Chome in the JR Beppu station, Maruniya is well-known as a Japanese tea store which specializes in first picked green tea produced in Kyushu district.

Maruniya started its business in 1948. The motto of the tea shop is to please people's body and heart with delicious Japanese tea.




They sell 'gyokuro', the highest grade of green tea, 'sencha', medium grade, 'genmaicha', mixture of green tea and roasted brown rice, 'konacha', smashed green tea, 'fukamushicha', deep steamed green tea, and hojicha, roasted green tea.




Out of many kinds of teas, 'fukamushicha' named Halley's Comet (ハレー彗星) is the signature brand of this store. It has a deep green color and the taste is very astringent.


A number of items related to green tea are available in the store such as teapots, tea cups, etc.