Beppu is a city where artists gather and art decorates places all over the city. Beppu has spots that feature works of art here and there. You should see the various works of art and architecture on display around the city. You will come in contact with attractive works of art in various places, sometimes blending in with the scenery or in exhibitions in shopping malls. Enjoy a trip that will entice you to snap pictures of delicious food and art as you enjoy an art tour.
Start from JR Beppu Station, the gateway to Beppu. When you go out of the east exit, you will see a bronze statue of Kumahachi Aburaya, who is known as the father of tourism in Beppu. He was a great man who spread the charm of Beppu during the Meiji era and made Beppu one of the world's most famous tourist destinations. The famous words, "If you want mountains, go Mt. Fuji, if you want to see a sea, go to Setouchi, and if you want hot water, go to Beppu," are also engraved, so this is a must-see. Next to it, there is a hand bath decorated with bamboo, a traditional craft of Beppu. This is also a place where you can experience Beppu art. Please be careful because the hand bath also attracts birds.
There is an art spot located just near the west exit of JR Beppu Station. The monument features art drawn on the entire building in front of you by Taro Okamoto, the artist who created the Tower of the Sun for the Osaka Expo. If you look at the bottom right of the work, you will see the signature of "Taro". Mr. Okamoto once said "art is an explosion.” You can immediately sense this in this work that seems to jump out at you as soon as you see it. Made of Shigaraki ware, it continues to shine without fading even after more than 50 years since it was made in 1969. Even from a distance, this building will catch your eye.
A typical example of Beppu City architecture during the era when modern Western and Japanese-style was popular, the Public Hall was built in March 1928. It is said that the scenery of the public hall became the core of Beppu during the vibrant Showa era. More than a century later, renovation work began in 2014. Before the rebuilding, it was popular as "Beppu City Central Public Hall,” but in April 2016, it was reopened under the new name "Beppu City Public Hall.” Both the exterior and interior feature a variety of arches. The building was designed by the young Tetsuro Yoshida (who later designed the Tokyo Central Post Office and Osaka Central Post Office), who was a repair engineer at the Ministry of Communications. The exquisite architecture features an interior white walls and art deco and stained glass showing a starlit sky, which exemplify the attention to detail the architect was known for. The star motif was a favorite of Mr. Yoshida, the designer of this public hall.
Constructed in the Taisho period, the Kamenoi Hotel appears in the aerial view of the Beppu sightseeing guide. The Kamenoi Hotel was founded in 1911 by Kumahachi Aburaya, known as the father of Beppu tourism. In the current Kamenoi Hotel, there is "Aburaya Kumahachi-tei," a restaurant named after Aburaya Kumahachi. Since its establishment, the restaurant has served kaiseki cuisine that features local Beppu and Oita cuisine, and has always been a favorite of customers. Kamenoi Hotel, which appears in the bird's eye view, is proud of its long history and still carries on the will of its founder. You can experience history at this hotel filled with the thoughts of Kumahachi Aburaya, the father of sightseeing in Beppu.
Founded in1953, Beppu Towels, is located along Akiba-dori Street. Here you can purchase local towels with Beppu Onsen written on them. This Beppu towel has a cute retro look and is popular for its unique design. You can choose from ten types of towels with large patterns reminiscent of the Showa era. It is printed based on the design from the late 1950s to 1960s. Another popular item is a sexy towel. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary towel with an old picture, but when it comes in contact with hot water, the pattern changes. The design looks like a transparent woman's kimono, so it’s called an “oiroke” towel, or sexy towel. This kind of humor is typical of Beppu.
Suehiro Onsen is in a residential area near Fujiyoshi Soy Sauce. The quality of the hot spring is simple, colorless and transparent, and it was originally used only by the local people. At the bathhouse of Suehiro Onsen, there are large murals of blue Mt.Tsurumitake (men’s bath) and pink Mt.Yufutake (women’s bath). This mural is a masterpiece created by Yukari Ohira; you can view the painting while taking a leisurely dip in the hot spring. Suehiro Onsen was temporarily closed, but it reopened in April 2021 thanks to local volunteers who love Suehiro Onsen. If you visit Suehiro Onsen, which is loved by the locals, it’s guaranteed to give you a nostalgic feeling.
Beppu is full of art. Kiyoshima Apartment is a place where aspiring artists gather. It was built immediately after the war and was originally a boarding house apartment. Currently managed by the NPO Beppu project, it is a residence and atelier where artists and creators gather. It is interesting because the artists who gather here come from all over Japan, not just in the prefecture. If you want to see the works created in this space where various artists gather, please have a look at the works at participating events and locations all over Beppu City. You can also visit the Kiyoshima Apartment, which is involved in this unique system.
*Advance reservation is required for visiting. Please apply from the website.
The Beppu Art Museum is located in Beppu Tower. It features works by more than 400 works by Japanese celebrities and world-famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and John Lennon. There is also a solo exhibition room and atelier where works by Eiko Kano, a painter from Oita Prefecture, are lined up. You can take photos and post on social media, so if you see something you like, feel free to take a commemorative photo with it. It is also a great spot where you can take pictures as if you were a painter, and it is a rare place where you can enjoy art while sightseeing.
Go to Beppu Tower, the symbol of Beppu tourism. The Beppu Tower was designed by Dr. Tadanaka Naito, who built six towers in major cities throughout Japan (Nagoya TV Tower, Tsutenkaku Tower, Beppu Tower, Sapporo TV Tower, Tokyo Tower, Hakata Port Tower) and is one of the “Tower 6 Brothers.” It has a history of more than 65 years. This observation deck has been loved as an indispensable part of sightseeing in Beppu since olden times. And we reopened after major renovation on January 27, 2023. The color recreates the color at the time of completion. The height was also restored from 90 meters to the original 100 meters. The observation floor has been changed to two floors, and the interior has been renovated. It is equipped with a terrace in the 5th floor. The middle observation deck, which can be accessed from the 5th floor, has also been opened to the public. Japan's first LED lighting was installed for illumination, which changes gradation depending on the season and event. Enjoy a panoramic view of Beppu City and Beppu Bay.
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