Bungo Takada: Magical, Mystical, Mysterious

Welcome to the city of Bungo Takada, a corner of Japan with a timeless quality and superb natural and cultural attractions. Located on Kyushu’s Kunisaki Peninsula, the city’s distance from the historic capitals of Kyoto and Tokyo has helped keep its many unique aspects free from the spoils of modern uniformity. Wherever you turn, you’ll find dramatic natural landscapes and the remains of an extraordinary culture that saw the merging of Buddhism and Japan’s indigenous religious beliefs over 1,300 years ago.

Bungo Takada serves as a cultural and historical hub for exploring the peninsula. The city stretches inland from the populated coastal area and rises through lush agricultural farmland into low, craggy mountains that hide valleys with landscapes unchanged for a thousand years. The volcanic rocks in the mountains have been the perfect medium for the chisels of stone carvers for centuries, and remarkable examples of their artistic skills are found in temple gateways, on awe-inspiring cliff faces and, just as often, on the roadside or in the garden of a local family. (It is said that some 70 percent of Japan’s Buddhist statuary can be found on the Kunisaki Peninsula.) There is something magical about this area’s close links to antiquity, at once captivating and mystical.

The roads here are well-marked and well-maintained, and the many English-language road signs make it a highly accessible destination for leisurely travel by car. For those looking for something more challenging, the rugged trails of the interior—which once catered only to the sandaled feet of ascetic monks in training—now offer hiking routes of varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

Bungo Takada is a haven of hidden treasures—a largely untouched area of Japan with an intriguing culture of great depth and mystery.

Rokugo Manzan: A Heritage of Religious Acceptance

No words are more important in understanding the Kunisaki Peninsula than “Rokugo Manzan.” The term refers both to this area and the culture that was spawned and flourished here. Rokugo literally means six (roku) regions (go), a reference to six communities on the peninsula that were separated by mountain ranges. The characters for manzan can be read as “mountainous,” but actually refer to the innumerable places of worship in the region that range in scope from a particular rock on the side of a mountain trail to age-old centers of Buddhist learning. It was here that the syncretism of various religious beliefs developed over the centuries to create the unique culture of Kunisaki.

Sharing Space and Deities

On this peninsula, sometime in the eighth and ninth centuries, Esoteric Buddhism first came to coexist along with the older beliefs of mountain worship. This began at Usa Jingu Shrine in the neighboring city of Usa, which despite being one of the country’s most important shrines is surprisingly little known. Here the two religions found enough in common to share certain deities and even the same grounds for their places of worship, a practice that spread across the region. The result was an eclectic mix of doctrines and precepts where, for example, oni—legendary ogres with origins in pre-Buddhist times—found a central place in Buddhist festivals. Strikingly designed masks, from the primitive to the elaborate, have long been used as the embodiment of oni and can still be seen at some local festivals in ceremonies meant to bring luck and ward off evil.

Rokugo Manzan Culture

Rokugo Manzan culture is the original culture that worships both of Buddha and God flourished in six villages in Kunisaki Peninsula long time ago.

Rokugo refers to old six villages including Kunawa, Tashibu, Aki, Musashi, Kunisaki and Imi in Kunisaki Peninsula.
Manzan refers to a collection of temples. The hallow ground where feeling for nature combined with Buddhist and Pure Land Buddhism, syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism of Usa Jingu Shrine were integrated into, and God and Buddha were united became a training place for monks. Bungotakada has many of these traces and you can feel a thousand years of prayers.

Fukiji Temple

Fukiji Odo which is the oldest existing wooden structure in Kyushu designated as a national treasure is a famous temple representing of Kunisaki Peninsula.

Fukiji Temple is a historical temple built for prayers by the chief priest at Usa Jingu Shrine (a national treasure) in 718. Fukiji Odo is one of three great Amitabha halls including the Phoenix Hall (hoodo) at Byodoin Temple in Kyoto and Konjikido at Chusonji Temple in Iwate. The odo is designated as a national treasure as the oldest existing wooden structure. The Seated Statue of Amitabha Tathagata built in Heian Period designated as a nationally important cultural property is enshrined inside the Odo.

Maki Odo

Maki Odo enshrines nine important Buddha statues.

Maki Odo is one of the buildings in Makisan Denjoji Temple that is regarded as the largest temple in Rokugo Manzan. The nine Buddha statues enshrined in the odo are each designated as a nationally important cultural property. One of the statues, the statue of Daitoku Myoo who has six faces, arms and foots, and is mounting a white buffalo, is the largest in Japan.

Tennenji Temple/Kawanaka Fudo

Tennenji Temple is a temple where a famous fire festival, "Shujo Onie" is held.
There is a Buddha image carved into a massive rock face called Kawanaka Fudo near the temple.

The temple built in 718 flourished as a temple of training and prayers. The surrounding scenery is beautiful and called "Tennenji yaba". It is also known as a sight of autumn leaves. A famous fire festival "Shujo Onie" is held once a year at the temple. Also, there are statues including Fudo Myoo statue with a height of 3 m curved into a massive rock along the river flowing in front of Tennenji Temple. The Fudo Myoo is called Kawanaka Fudo

Kumano Magaibutsu

Kumano Magaibutsu is the largest Buddha image carved into a rock face. The image is carved into the place at the top of the steep stairs that is said goblins built in one night.

The Buddha image carved into a rock face at the top of the stairs with a legend that goblins built in one night.
There is the statue of Fudo Myoo with a height of about 8 m on left and the statue of Dainichi Nyorai with a height of about 7 m on right. Their sizes are the largest class in Japan and they are designated as a nationally important cultural property.

Mineiri

Mineiri is a tough ascetic training practiced by monks in Kunisaki Peninsula.

An ascetic training practiced by a Buddhist saint, Ninmon Bosatsu, who established Rokugo Manzan. The 150 km road where Ninmon Bosatsu performed a training is called Minemichi. Monks of the Tendai School has walked Minemichi as an ascetic training since a thousand years ago. Mineiri training is practiced once in 10 years even today.

Kunisaki Peninsula Minemichi Long Trail

A trail course of 135 km in total length based on Minemichi.

A trail course of 135 km in total length based on Minemichi. There are four organized courses in Bungotakada City and six in Kunisaki City. They are attractive courses that you can visit historical shrines and temples, and places of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, enjoying seasonal rich natural landscape.
You can enjoy culture of Bungotakada City to the fullest by feeling nature and culture such as Rokugo Manzan, enjoying original local food and soaking in hot springs.

Tashibunosho

Manorial aspects are still remained. Its landscape is designated as Important Cultural Landscapes in Japan.

Thick fields were cultivated as paddy fields about 1300 years ago, and the fields became the most important manor of Usa Jingu Shrine. The paddy fields whose shape is very unique drawing various curves using the land’s geography are still same as they were in medieval times. Its landscape was designated as Important Cultural Landscapes in Japan. Also Kunisaki Peninsula and Usa area centering around Tashibunosho are designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.

Rice-planting festival/harvest festival

You can experience traditional agriculture work wearing medieval costumes and also enjoy local cuisine on the day. Schedule: Rice-planting festival 2nd Sunday in June/ Harvest festival 2nd Sunday in October

Nature

Matama Beach

A beach where you can see sunset selected as one of top 100 sunset in Japan.

This is the only beach in Oita Prefecture that you can see sunset over the horizon. The fantastic scenery consisting of the red shiny surface and the mud flat is designated as one of top 100 sunset spots in Japan. There are a café where you can enjoy Bungotakada Soba, a digital art gallery of teamLab that is active in the world and others nearby.

Nagasakibana

A camp site where 20 millions of field mustard in spring and 1.2 millions sunflower bloom.

A large park with a beach, a camp site and restaurants. There are seasonal beautiful carpets of flowers. Field mustard oil and sunflower oil that are produced from flower field in Nagasakibana by a traditional way is popular healthy oil of 100% purity. Flower oil is sold as specialty goods in the shop "ORIO" inside the building and also is used in cooking at a restaurant “fiore”.

Showa Town

A shopping street with remains of old town in Showa period

Bungotakada was the most flourished town in Kunisaki Peninsula during Edo period to 30s of the Showa period. Old buildings are preserved and you can see what Japanese local towns looked like in 30s of the Showa period when the shopping street was heyday.
There are facilities where private houses and a school classroom are reproduced, and a museum for good old toys. The shopping street as a whole is like an entertainment attraction you can feel having time travel to the old time.
Also, guides who know everything about Showa Town give a tour for all the places in the town using the dialect. (Charged)

http://bungo-kanko.dev01.coara.or.jp/en/

Bonnet Bus Round Tour

A bonnet bus manufactured in 1957 runs in the town on every Saturday, Sunday and national holiday for free.
There is a guide by a conductor.

Otoraya Diner

A diner established about 90 years ago.
They serve popular dishes with the same price in 30s of the Showa Period.

Spas/Hotels

Mist rising from hot springs in tranquil mountainous secondary forest induces a sense of peace and calm. The spring quality is various and second to none in those of Beppu or Yufuin.

Ebisudani Spa

A rustic spa at the foot of mountains with a band of strange shaped rocks. The spa has a rustic open-air hot spring.

Ryoan Fukinotou

Accommodation adjacent to Fukiji Temple, a national treasure. You can enjoy a cypress scented spa and nature.

Hanairo Spa

A spa facility that has carbonate spring and training rooms.

Matama Spa Sansuiso

A hot spring hotel where you can enjoy tea-ceremony dishes using much local food.

Horainosato Senninyu

The log home style appearance is its landmark. Facilities including saunas and lounges, and accessories are fully provided.

Kaimon Spa

A good quality hot spring known to only few. The spring quality is said to be one of the greatest in Oita Prefecture.

Food

Bungotakada is one of the famous soba producers in western Japan. Bungotakada soba is available within the city.
Brad-name beef "Bungo Komeshiage Beef" and brand-name blue crab "Misaki Gazami" are also popular food.

Bungotakada Soba

A dish representing Bungotakada. The characteristic of the soba is that there are two periods in a year that you can enjoy soba made of newly harvested buckwheat flour. The soba is served only at certified restaurants that passed a grueling test.

Misaki Gazami

A kind of blue crabs with a brand-name which tastes delicate and sweet. The best season of the crab is from August to December. Boiling with salt is the best way to eat.

Bungo Komeshiage Beef

Domestic beef grown with rice produced in Oita Prefecture. Lean and healthy beef with moderate marbling.

Bungo Duck

Juicy local duck. Not only a duck hot pot using specialty leek but duck steak and seared duck are also excellent dishes.

Peanuts

Carefully grown peanuts with a natural flavor of slight sweetness.

Misaki Kakiage Don

A bowl of rice topped with tempra of several mixed ingredients including fresh shrimp.

Traditional Events

Seasonal traditional events handed down to today through a long history

Shujo Onie at Tennenji Temple

A festival to pray for a bountiful harvest and good health. This is a nationally unique event that goblins, a manifestation of Buddha, brandish a torch.

Horan Enya

A new year’s event to pray for a bountiful catch and safe voyage. Young people jump into the bitter cold sea from a ship decorated with flags.

Hadaka Festival

A traditional evet held for more than 900 years. While sound of drams set on the stage on the river fills the town, a portable shine is carried across the river.

Kusachi Dance

"Ksachi Dance" handed down from old time attracts viewers with its elegant and lively dance.

To Educate and Proselytize

At one time, over sixty-five temples dotted this peninsula, divided roughly into three areas that specialized in different functions: the temples in the west focused on studying, those in the central area taught ascetic training, and those on the eastern side concentrated on spreading the word of Buddhism. While the numbers have dropped, thirty-one temples belonging to the Tendai sect of Esoteric Buddhism can still be found here today, and the aura of spirituality that defines Rokugo Manzan permeates every inch of the area.