Beppu is a world apart. Throughout the town steam and sulfur fumes are rising up from between the tiles. It is easy to feel lost in all choices for hot springs, sand, mud and foot baths. We will give you some pointers.
The Hells of Beppu
The hells (Jigoku) of Beppu, are eight spectacular hot springs in surrealistic colours, for viewing rather than bathing. We advise you to visit only Umi Jigoku and Oniishi Bozu Jigoku. These are the most impressive ones and do not keep animals, in contrast to Yama Jigoku and Oniyama Jigoku.
We liked Umi Jigoku best, with its cobalt blue colour, big amounts of steam, beautiful gardens, water lilies and even an onsen in which you can bath your feet. This makes Umi Jigoku worth a visit.
Oniishi Bozu Jigoku (meaning Shaven Monk’s Head Hell), shows intriguing bubbling grey mud pots. The bubbles have similarities to the heads of monks. The bubbles make great sounds and figures. This place has also a foot onsen.
Taking a bath
The downside of visiting Beppu as a heterosexual couple, is that it is hard to find a mixed gender (konyoku) onsen. Therefor we like Hoyo Land Konya Jigoku a lot, as it has a partially mixed mud bath outside, separated by bamboo poles. Inside, there is a small onsen maze to keep you occupied with different types of baths for another 30 minutes.
Just remember that your clothes will have a sulphur smell, as a very present souvenir. It took us a couple of laundries to get rid of it. If you don’t want to get wet, you can also choose for a sand bath on the beach. Just note that it costs around 1,000 yen and will last for only 10 minutes.
Other things to do
Are you totally relaxed by all the bathing? Try climbing Mount Tsurumi, a mountain with ropeway that overlooks the city. Furthermore, you can take a lesson in ‘Steam Cooking’, where you cook food with hot spring food. Also, Mount Aso is just a bus or train ride around the corner. Just make sure the active volcano is not too active: They activate a no-entry zone when this is the case, whereby it is impossible to approach and see the crater.