“Ko” in Japanese means lake. So Kinrin-ko is really Lake Kinrin. But then again, it isn’t really a lake. More like a pond that wells up from a hot spring. So you’d find steam making out like a mist hovering over its very clear water, teeming with big golden, orange or vermilion-colored fish of the carp variety. These, along with the resident ducks and birds combine to lend calm to this place in the onsen area of Yufu.

I suspect Kinrin-ko looks most charming in autumn, but I can’t be certain. For sure, the morning fog of winter is breathtaking. And the spring blooms should likewise be beautiful. At the moment, we are enjoying the fall colors which are an attraction by themselves. Red, yellow, orange, green and brown – a symphony of colors.

After rounding up Lake Kinrin, we checked out the nearby, very commercial Floral Village which is NO flower garden or park, but simply a shopping alley catering to tourists. I couldn’t wait to get out of this tourist trap. Found a coffee, ice cream and crepe shop right outside and promptly claimed a comfortable chair there to while away the time while sipping my brew. How I wish I was doing this by the lake! That would have been nice. I would have practiced the Japanese “boketto” here — the art of staring mindlessly. Instead, I “lost” myself in the frenzy of dodging samurai-dressed vendors, sampling the wide variety of Japanese snack foods, and fiddling with my newly-bought umbrella which I used for a good total of no more than 15 minutes of soft rain.

On our way here from Beppu, I spotted a JR Yufuin Station. The walk — my guess is less than half hour — from the Station to the lake looks interesting as the road is littered with many shops and food stalls. Though I’ve been to lovelier lakes and ponds, Lake Kinrin is without a doubt, the top attraction here in Yufuin. Along with Beppu, Yufuin is a popular hot spring resort town in Oita Prefecture. I’d say the onsen experience here pairs well with a stroll around the lake. Just skip the Floral Village nearby. Frankly, I don’t understand why this shopping alley carries a European-inspired theme. I’d be quite happy with a very rural Japanese setting. At any rate, Kinrin-ko makes up for that faux pa.

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