Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone
Unravel One Thousand Years of Memories. A Completely Undiscovered Japan
- Millennium Heritage Journey -
In the northern region of Oita Prefecture there are eight municipalities with a history spanning over 1,000 years from the distant past, through ancient times, the Middle Ages, and up to the present day. The history that has shaped modern Japan is ingrained in its memories and has been carved into this region.
The start of history in this area begins with the combining of Buddhism and Shinto religions at the Usa Shrine about 1,300 years ago. The belief culture of the fusing between Shinto gods and Buddha is a kind of culture not seen anywhere else in the world, and perhaps it is precisely because of this that it has become a cornerstone of the essential Japanese spirit. This culture of fusing religions from Usa and the Kunisaki Peninsula has proved to be timeless, and still remains today as the Rokugo Manzan culture.
The Usa Shrine owned about one third of the territories in Kyushu, but this power has been lost over the passage of time. Since then each area has continued to develop in its own way; Nakatsu, Kitsuki and Hiji have the characteristic shape of castle towns, while Beppu is prospering as an international onsen resort. As time passes, the Rokugo Manzan culture is still concentrated at the temples, and even today is being passed down through the generations of local people.
Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone is a place where you can immerse yourself in a completely unknown Japan. The Millennium Heritage Journey will unravel its history. The landscape and culture, the lives of the local people, the shrines and temples that are passing on this history, and with each experience and encounter you will uncover something that has been forgotten, and perhaps this will be a journey that leaves you with unforgettable memories…
The Characteristics of this Area
Clear days are plentiful with a pleasant climate coming from the Seto Inland Sea. Sunny days are the norm in summer, and in winter the seasonal winds can bring snowfalls seen accumulating in the mountains.
The Kunisaki Peninsula is characterized by its steep terrain and volcanic soil which is easily permeated by rain water. As a result there are very particular sustainable systems of agriculture, forestry and water in the oak forests and ponds, which have been designated as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System.
The region has various historical cultures that have come from ancient times to the present day. With the Usa Shrine at its center, Buddhism and Shintoism have been mixed and 'Shinbutsu Shugo Culture' was formed, and has spread over the Kunisaki Peninsula. Nakatsu, Kitsuki, and Hiji developed as castle towns, and these days they have become large towns with the old castle towns at their heart. With one of the world's leading onsen towns, Beppu, there is still a heritage of precious modernization, back alleys, and the public bathhouse culture that escaped the destruction of war.
With all eight municipalities facing the Seto Inland Sea, fresh seafood is in abundance. Nakatsu is famous for conger pike, Himeshima for Japanese tiger prawns, and Hiji for Shiroshita flounder. In addition, Oita's toriten and kara-age fried chicken are famous all over the country, The famous onsen resort in Beppu has a traditional method of cooking using steam from the onsen nicknamed 'steamed in hell’s kitchen'.
Shinto gods and Buddha are complexly intertwined in the unique culture of this region which one can partake in at a training experience at the temple.
Take a guide and walk the backstreets of Beppu where there are still traces of the good old days.
A step back in time to the Edo period. Stroll around the old town which has a uniquely Japanese-style castle while dressed in a kimono.