Usa City, Oita Prefecture – a Cultural Marvel to Put on Your Bucket List | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
usa city oita hachimangu shrine

Usa City, Oita Prefecture – a Cultural Marvel to Put on Your Bucket List 

By Guidable Writers Mar 2, 2022

Usa City in Oita Prefecture has something for everyone. Whether you like visiting shrines and other cultural sites or spending time in vast and beautiful nature, you can find it here. 

Visit Usa Hachimangu Shrine, one of the most important shrines in Japan and try some delicacies or enjoy wine tasting in nearby wineries and fruit picking in the orchards.

It’s a wonderful place for a cultural experience, a place to retreat from your busy every day. If you’re wondering where to go and what to do then look no further! Here are some expertly chosen sights taken from a successful Usa online tour, and some extra picks we thought you would like!

Take a Stroll Around Usa City in Oita

Usa in Oita is a lesser-known travel destination that should be on your bucket list. It’s a city made of small towns and rural areas with spectacular natural landscapes. There’s something for any type of traveler and it’s beautiful in all seasons. 

Usa Hachimangu Shrine

usa city oita hachimangu shrine 2

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

First on your list of things to do in Usa is Usa Hachimangu Shrine. You might have heard of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura, which attracts tourists from all over the world, but what about Usa Hachimangu Shrine? Usa Hachimangu is the head shrine of all 40,000 Hachimangu shrines across the country dedicated to the god Hachimangu. It’s one of the most important shrines in Japan (perhaps even the second, after Ise Jingu in Mie), and a scenic place to visit. 

usa city oita heaven bridge

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

After taking a look at the stunning vermillion shrine buildings, view the serene lotus pond and the unique Kurehashi bridge; a bridge with a roof! 

Head to nearby Nakamise Dori to try some local snacks and delicacies at various food stalls. At the local sake shop taste the mugi shochu (barley shochu). And if you’re still hungry then why not tuck into some delicious usa karaage fried chicken.

Senzai Farm

usa city oita wisteria

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

If you prefer spending time in nature, then Usa has you covered. Take a 20-minute taxi ride from Usa Station and you’ll find yourself in a completely different world. Senzai farm is home to the largest wisteria trellis and rose gardens in Kyushu. Travel between late-April and the beginning of May to see cascades of purple wisteria, and from mid-May and early-July to see the 2,500 roses in bloom. 

Location: 4243 Yokkaichi, Owaza, Usa City, Oita Prefecture
Opening hours: 8:00-18:00
Price: 400 yen for the rose garden (other entrance is free)

Are fruit farms more your thing? Usa offers perfect locations for grape picking during July – October, and strawberry picking from January to mid-May. 

Travelling to Ajimu For Nature’s Wonders 

Ajimu Budoushu Koubou (Winery)

usa city oita winery

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

Travel to the Ajimu Budoshu Koubou Winery for stunning views and delicious wine. Ajimu is a famous wine producer in Eastern Japan, and the wine is rich and tasty. You can enjoy tours of the winery, walk through the lush grounds, and of course, a wine tasting. Dine at the winery restaurant and buy some souvenirs at the shop.

Location: 798 Shimoge, Ajimu Town, Usa City, Oita Prefecture
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Price: Free

Spectacular Waterfalls 

usa city oita waterfall 2

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

Ajimu has so much natural beauty to offer. Fukino Falls, famous for its rainbows is a National Scenic Beauty reaching around 65m. Take a trip to arrive between 7:00-8:00 am in the morning on sunny days in June and July to catch the rainbow.

Location: Ajimumachi Fukino, Usa, Oita
Open hours: All hours 
Price: Free (Parking fee may incur)

usa city oita higashiiya taki

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

Higashi-shiiya Falls is an elegantly tall waterful resembling that of Nikko Kegon Falls and is one of the 100 Best Waterfalls in Japan. Take a  trip here to refresh your mind and soul, feel yourself relax surrounded by the waterfall’s negative ions. 

Location: Ajimumachi Higashishiiya, Usa, Oita
Open hours: All hours Parking lot business hours: 8:30-17:00
Price: Free (Parking fee 300 yen for cars)

Delicacies of Usa City, Oita

usa city oita karaage

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

If you’re a fan of karaage, then Usa is the place for you. Also known as “Karaage Town”, Usa is the first place in Japan to open up a specialized Karaage shop and now there are over 30 of them to try and compare.  

usa city oita shochu

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

Oita is famous for its barley shochu, a distilled hard liquor. It’s often made with rice, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and in this case, barley and has an alcohol content of around 25 per cent. The famous shochu is Nishi No Hoshi. Its rich, floral, smooth shochu is made from produce cultivated in Usa and Ajimu. Other shochu includes Ajimu Gura with its refreshing taste, and Kubo made with black rice malt, uniquely sweet aromatic. 

Other Recommended Spots Not Featured in the Online Tour

Oita Prefectural Museum of History

usa city oita museum

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

A few kilometers from the shrine is the Oita Prefectural Museum of History, a brilliantly informative museum that introduces the culture, history, and attractions of Oita Prefecture. The museum features a life-size replica of Fukiji Temple’s main hall and replicas of the Kumano Magaibutsu and Usuki stone buddha statues. 

Location: Azakyozuka, Oaza Takamori, Usa City, Oita Prefecture
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 (closed Mondays)
Price: 310 yen  

Keishoji Temple Ruins “Jigoku-Gokuraku”

usa city oita heaven and hell

Photo credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた

In Higashiera, Ajimu-machi you can find the entrance to heaven…and hell. Visit Keishoji Temple Ruins to find a cave created to teach people about heaven and hell. Rather than depicting it in a painting, the road from hell to heaven is carved in stone. Pass the gatekeeper, walk through the cave into hell to reach the Blood Pond Hell, while meeting various stone statues on the way. After walking the hell road, you can pass through to heaven, guided by Buddhas, and climb up a hole to heaven. 

Location: Higashiera, Ajimu-machi, Usa-shi, Oita
Opening hours: all hours
Price: 100 yen

Visiting Usa City Through a Virtual Tour

Usa City is a spectacular area of natural beauty with hot springs, shrines and temples, wineries, fruit farms, and more. It’s a perfect place to visit if you want to connect with Japanese culture and eat delicious food. We experienced this captivating city through a virtual tour in January and would love to tell you more about it. 

What Is Usa City Light Experience Online Tour?

Usa City Light Experience Online Tour is an innovative virtual travelling experience that takes place at Zarai Oita restaurant, near Ginza station, that combines a real-time online tour and a real-life dining experience.

The virtual tour and tasting experience guides you through the city of Usa, located in Oita prefecture, Kyushu, to discover the city’s main cultural spots, activities, and, of course, delicious food!

The idea of this tour was born from the concept of the indissoluble bond between travelling and discovering the local cuisine.

With most online tours you would be confined to your own house, but the appeal of Usa City Light Experience Online Tour is that while virtually walking around the main spots of the city with a local “reporter” you get to actually taste the local food, thanks to the collaboration with Zarai Oita restaurant.

What is the Tour Like?

usa city oita slideshow

Photo credit: H.I.S. Co., Ltd

I joined the tour in January. The online tour took place in a private room at Zarai Oita, a kaiseki restaurant located just a minute away from Ginza station, inside the Hulic Square building. The room had a large comfortable table to keep social distance and a projector through which photos and videos were shared.

The host and MC gave a presentation about Usa city, with a little background on the history, location, and how to access it from bigger hubs.

After a brief introduction to Usa’s main tourist spots, we are able to connect in real-time with a “reporter” in Usa, ready to walk us through the city! 

The live tour started at Usa Hachimangu Shrine, the head shrine of all the thousands of Hachimangu shrines across the country dedicated to the god Hachimangu. I had the chance to look at the shrine’s surroundings while getting some insider information.

The tour then brought us to the nearby “Nakamise Dori” where the reporter showcased different shops and talked about local specialities of Usa and Oita prefecture.

He introduced us to the production of local candies and how they are made, and we could even interact with the employees.

usa city, online tour, japanese food, japan, tokyo

Photo credit: the author

We moved along with him through different food stalls and just when the reporter started taste testing the first bite of food and our mouths started drooling, with perfect timing the same dish was served to us live! The food was delicious and it felt like we were actually there with him!

After trying different foods from local vendors, the last stop for the day was a local sake shop where we could dig into the local “mugi shochu” (barley shochu) production.

The in-restaurant experience continued with a shochu tasting, and the amazing staff from Zarai gave us a quick but accurate explanation of different types of shochu, so even beginners could understand the subtle difference between the different types.

Photo credit: H.I.S. Co., Ltd

Lastly, after parting with our local host from Usa city, the meal was served, in the form of a traditional teishoku style meal with local ingredients from Oita and some traditional “kyodo ryori” (local cuisine) recipes – and there was even dessert and tea!

The shelves were filled with local products in the restaurant’s lobby so we could purchase “omiyage” for our friends and coworkers – just like being on a real trip!

usa city oita karaage

Photo credit: H.I.S. Co., Ltd

What I loved About the Usa City Virtual Online Tour

  • The tour was conducted both in English and in Japanese. Enquire upon booking for more details.
  • High interaction within the hosts: the atmosphere was very relaxed and the whole tour setup was very entertaining.
  • You can ask questions directly to shop owners – that you might not have the guts to do on your own when visiting a place. Especially if you are not really confident in Japanese, the hosts will just translate for you!
  • The virtual tour is not just a valuable and fun experience to spend a couple of hours, but also a valuable tool to plan your trip to Usa city. 
  • Professional tour guides, chefs and sommeliers of a high-grade restaurant, ensure accurate and attentive explanations of both tourists’ spots, food and drinks.
  • Pet-friendly hotel? Coziest onsen in town? We could ask our questions directly to the staff of the local tourist information centre!

usa city, online tour, japanese food, japan, tokyo

Photo credit: the author

How to Join an Online Tour of Usa City, Oita

The tour gives a fresh intro to a city, Usa, otherwise less known, and that you won’t necessarily have thought of visiting. It gives you access to local resources live, and you get to try delicious food and shochu in a high-grade restaurant for an incredibly low price.

If you are wondering when you can jump on board, visit the homepage to keep track of the next events. The tour is 2 hours long and 2 slots are available, lunchtime from 11 am to 1 pm or dinner time from 5 to 7 pm.

Currently, Usa City Online Tour and Food Event is scheduled two or three times a month, but due to the recent surge of cases in Tokyo, dates may vary so make sure to check the latest updates for detailed information and book your spot!

Travelling is for sure the most challenging it has ever been right now but put Usa on your bucket list and hopefully, we will be able to visit in person soon!

If you’re interested in these virtual tours, visit the H.I.S. website here!

Related articles:

What is Onsen? The Ultimate Guide to Japan’s Most Popular Tradition

Featured image credits: 公益社団法人ツーリズムおおいた