This cute little town just south of Beppu is home to Mt Yufu, which we climbed in a fit of utter madness, as a precursor to Mt Fuji. Although not really a genuine preview as the top is 800m below the starting point of the 5th station! Still, the view down to the valley was lovely when we could see it through mist and cloud. Unfortunately I did not have time to go to Beppu and get buried up to my neck in hot sand - the reviews I read made it sound wonderfully time. In a colder season too, perhaps!

Another feature of the ryokans I have not mentioned is the onsens (hot baths). Most ryokans have no private baths in the rooms. You troop down in your slippers and yukata to the facilities. Abandoning your clothes at the entrance you take in your toiletries only. Around the edges are showers and taps and you are expected to scrub yourself clean before you get in. You are definitely not to use the bath to clean yourself and god help you if you introduce soap. The best bath was at Takayama. It was all wood with internal benches and a few shooting jets.  A pity it was just too hot to stay in for more than a minute. The baths at Yufu were special in that they were actually fed by the natural hot springs in the area. Looking up into the hills towards Mt Yufuin you could see steamy jets rising at various intervals.