Surprising Discoveries! Exploring Southern Oita
Oita, with its famous hot spring resorts such as Beppu Onsen and Yufuin, is often called "the hot-spring prefecture." Howeber, Oita's southern region is worth visiting for its stunning views of the ocean and the mountains, World Heritage sites, and exquisite local food.
In this article, we introduce ten excellent places to visit in cities such as Usuki, Saiki, Tsukumi, and Bungo-Ono, all located in southern Oita.
Usuki: Traveling Back in Time
In the sixteenth century, Usuki was an international port visited by Portuguese and Chinese merchants. The streets are lined with buildings from various eras and visitors can enjoy a different side of the city's history at every corner.
Some of the best places to visit in Usuki are the Stone Buddha comples and Usuki Castle Park.
1. Usuki Stone Buddhas: An Encounter with Medieval Buddhism
The Usuki Stone Buddhas are figures of Buddha carved in rock created from the late Heian Period to the Kamakura Period (1185 - 1333). The Jodo sect of Buddhism, whose teachings are centered around the doctrine of the Pure Land Paradise, was prevalent at the time. Those who dreamed of reaching the Buddhist paradise found various ways of expressing their belief.
In the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), there used to be a small lake in front of the Buddha figures.
About 900 years ago, this area was owned by aristocrats who lived in Kyoto. Apparently, the stone Buddhas, which are located in the western part of this area, were meant to be a recreation of the Buddhist paradise. This statuary complex was a literal representation of the Jodo sect principles, helping believers understand the teaching by making it visible to their eyes.
There are 61 figures in total and all of them have been designated as national treasures or historic sites.
Fukada Valley, which is located between the Stone Buddhas and Mangetsu Temple, is filled with splendid seasonal flowers such as lotus and cosmos. This area truly embodies the ancient dream of reaching the Buddhist paradise.
2. Usuki Castle Park: Enjoying the View of the City
Usuki Castle was built by Otomo Sorin (1530 - 1587), a feudal lord who converted to Christianity. The castle was initially located on an island. After the beginning of the seventeenth century, the sea was filled and a bustling town developed around the castle.
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