Southwest of the majestic twin peaks of Yufu-dake, this tranquil village resembles a checkered quilt. Forests nestle up to clusters of galleries, eclectic cafés, local crafts shops, and rustic lodgings. Most of the year, Yufuin is a relatively peaceful area, but things heat up in July and August with the arrival of national music and film festivals.

Yufuin has avoided many of the pitfalls of modern tourism, and it wasn't an accident. City planners and investors went to Europe and came back with ideas about how to set up a quaint and lovely spa town. The center of town can become crowded with visitors in the middle of the day, but the outer edges with their ryokan and galleries are quiet and sedate. Relatively unadorned natural baths with great views can be found here, as can a thriving arts-and-crafts industry and fantastic food.

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