tourism

Walk the City with Artist Masamitsu Katsu

Explore Beppu from an Artist’s Perspective (2hrs)

Takegawara Koji, Japan’s oldest arcade
Masamitsu Katsu, an artist who has lived in Beppu for 12 years
Taro Okamoto’s mural Midori no Taiyo (Green Sun) adorns a dermatology clinic
A fusuma (sliding door) painting created by Michael Lin during 2009’s Mixed Bathing World

Beppu City in Oita Prefecture boasts one of the largest numbers of hot springs in the world. But apart from geothermal relaxation, Beppu has also become a hub for art since the non-profit BEPPU PROJECT was launched in 2005 and began hosting its international art festivals. This tour will take you on a walk around Beppu with one of its active artists, Masamitsu Katsu.

An artist residency and studio, the Kiyoshima Apartment can be referred to as the “Tokiwa-so of Art,” a name that refers to the no-frills apartment building in Tokyo that housed prominent manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy) and Fujiko Fujio (Doraemon). A resident of the Kiyoshima Apartment since its inception, Masamitsu Katsu has continued and expanded his artistic practice while becoming an active part of the local community. Explore the city of Beppu from an artist’s unique perspective, all through a personalized walking tour experience.

  • Walk and explore Beppu from an artist’s perspective
  • Masamitsu Katsu, an artist well versed in Beppu’s history and customs, will be your guide
  • See Beppu Station, Taro Okamoto’s mural, Takegawara Onsen’s architecture, and other destinations in an itinerary personalized to match your interests
  • Visit the Kiyoshima Apartment artist residency, also known as the “Tokiwa-so of Art”
  • After exploring the city, you can shop at SELECT BEPPU
  • All participants will receive a postcard duplicate of a pencil sketch by Masamitsu Katsu depicting a memorable scene from their walking tour.
Masamitsu KatsuContemporary Artistt
After participating in the WakuWaku Mixed Bathing Apartment (in conjunction with the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival “Mixed Bathing World”) in 2009, he moved into the Kiyoshima Apartment, which had served as a venue for the festival, and continued presenting his work. Katsu also works as a walking tour guide of the city, an instructor for painting schools in the area, and the chairman of a painting contest’s selection committee.
Destination Info

Beppu: The Worldwide Capital of Hot Springs

Located between Beppu Bay and a volcanic belt, Beppu is home to more than 2000 springs that yield the highest amount of hot spring water in the world. Beppu’s history with hot springs is so extensive that it was also recorded in the Iyo no Kuni Fudoki (ancient history and mythology of Iyo Province) compiled in the 8th century. The tradition of soaking in hot springs for recuperation has long prospered here.

Steam wafting up from the hot springs of Beppu
Takegawara Onsen, a symbol of Beppu built in the Meiji Era

Revitalizing a Historical Hot Spring Town Through Art

Beppu has thrived as a hot spring town for generations, but this reputation has been dwindling in recent years. Amidst this changing backdrop, BEPPU PROJECT strives to revitalize the city through art. The organization has spearheaded events such as the triennial “Mixed Bathing World” international art festival, the “in Beppu” art festival that highlights solo exhibitions, and the public culture festival “Beppu Art Month.”

SELECT BEPPU, located in a renovated townhouse built over 100 years ago

Kiyoshima Apartment: The Tokiwa-so of Art

Built shortly after World War II, the Kiyoshima Apartment is a former boarding house. As one of the venues for 2009’s Mixed Bathing World festival, over 100 groups of young artists from across Japan gathered here to create and exhibit work during their stay. Since then, BEPPU PROJECT has operated the building as a residence and art studio. Every year, 8 groups of artists are chosen through an open-call application process; these residents host events and exhibitions while living communally.

Masamitsu Katsu’s studio in the Kiyoshima Apartment
Program Contents

Take a Walk Through Beppu From an Artist’s Perspective

Artist and guide Masamitsu Katsu was based in Tokyo and active both in Japan and overseas, but moved to Beppu in 2009 with the launch of the Kiyoshima Apartments. More than ten years have passed since. Through his involvement with youth groups and painting schools, Katsu has immersed himself in the local community and unravelled the history of the city’s streets and buildings. A stroll with him is not simply a tour of various art pieces scattered across Beppu, but rather a walking exploration from an artist’s perspective. Journey through the city’s many layers that stretch all the way back to the early 20th century Taisho and Showa Eras! In addition to the main destinations that are part of every tour, the walking tour stops are personalized to meet your specific interests.

Walk through back alley labyrinths

A Personalized Postcard Memory

All participants will receive a postcard duplicate of a pencil sketch by Masamitsu Katsu depicting a memorable scene from their walking tour.

Pencil drawing postcard (sample)

\ツアー参加者の声/

  • ・※ツアー参加後に感想を入れる予定
  • ・※ツアー参加後に感想を入れる予定
Tour Code GOBP01
Dates First and second Saturday of each month 13:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration 2 hours
Schedule
13:55

Meet Up

Gather at the statue of Kumahachi Aburaya at the East Exit of Beppu Station, check in.

Statue of Kumahachi Aburaya, the father of Beppu Tourism

14:15〜

Walk around Beppu

Walk around the city with Masamitsu Katsu. In addition to the statue of Kumahachi Aburaya in front of Beppu Station, Taro Okamoto’s Midori no Taiyo, the iconic architecture of Takegawara Onsen, and Takegawara Koji Arcade, visit various other destinations that change depending on the day and guests’ interests. Finally, visit the Kiyoshima Apartment, where you will tour the resident artists’ galleries and have a break for tea. Mr. Katsu will also show you his work.

16:00

SELECT BEPPU

Travel by foot to SELECT BEPPU, built in the restored room of a 100-year-old tenement house. See Michael Lin’s fusama (sliding door) painting on the second floor. On the first floor, those who are interested may purchase works of art and original goods by artists and craftspeople with ties to Beppu.

Languages JapaneseSupplementary explanations in English via translation device or lecture board can be provided upon request. Please make a note in the message box during registration to request this service.※An English interpreter can also be arranged for an additional fee. Please contact UNA Laboratories for more details.
Participants Minimum 2 / Maximum 6
Meeting Place
In front of the statue of Kumahachi Aburaya (JR Beppu Station East Exit)
12-13 Ekimae-cho, Beppu-shi, Oita-ken
Train: Get off at JR Beppu Station
Bus: Get off at Beppu Ekimae bus stop, or 10 minutes by foot from Beppu Kitahama bus stop
Car: Please park in a nearby parking lot (payment required)
Reservation Deadline 3 days before the start of the tour (for example, please apply by October 7th for a tour that starts on October 10th)
Payment Method Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)
Attire Please wear clothes that are comfortable to walk in. Even better if you can bring a towel (for the hot springs)!
Tour Conductor None
Note about Tour Conductors There will be no tour conductor from UNA Laboratories accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring cases of inclement weather such as heavy rain or a typhoon.
  • All of the photographs displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only.
  • Guests who are under elementary school age may attend the tour accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
Cancellation Policy 3 to 1 day(s) preceding the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 100% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
First and second Saturday of each month 14:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
※As the Kiyoshima Apartment and SELECT BEPPU shop are closed until the end of May, this tour is scheduled to start in June, or after the facilities are re-opened.
Duration
2 hours
Recommended Age
Suitable for All Ages
Price
5,000 yen
(includes tax and sketch)

※Free for those under 6
※Masamitsu Katsu will create a pencil drawing of a memorable scene from your walking tour, and mail you a postcard duplicate at a later date