Oita Prefecture 大分県, located on the eastern coast of Kyushu, has the highest number of hot spring locations and also the highest annual yield of hot spring water in Japan.
Bid goodbye to beautiful Takachiho Gorge, we continued our road trip to our next destination, Oita. Along the way, we stopped by at Kumamoto 熊本 for lunch. There were no other patrons at the eatery except a few workers who were fixing the rooftop. We did not expect much of the quality of the food. To our surprise, it was delicious.
Before heading to Beppu, where we will spend two nights stay, we stopped by at Yufuin. It is a small town in Oita, located in a green valley beneath Mount Yufu 由布岳. The streets are lined with cafes and shops selling souvenirs, clothing, shoes, etc.
After bumming around at Yufuin for about two hours, we drove for another thirty minutes to Beppu and reached the hotel that we put up for two nights.
Beppu, located on the north of Oita Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most famous and well known for onsen resorts where one will find onsen hotels and resorts everywhere including onsens for viewing, not for bathing.
We booked our stay at an exclusive Ryokan hotel situated at Beppu, a few kilometres away from the Jigoku, the onsens for viewing only. The room comes with attached onsen bathroom. The hotel, originally a traditional residential home, is situated in the residential area, near a park, schools and convention centre.
The hotel provides both breakfast and dinner. Dinner was served in the room across from our bedroom. We thought we will be served with a simple bento dinner but to our surprise, dinner was elaborate and the food was great. Our dinner started at seven and by the time we were served dessert, it was almost nine.
While we were enjoying our dinner, the housekeeper converted our room to a bedroom with futons laid on the tatami floor.
An hour after dinner, I took a dip into the onsen attached to our room. Water was hot but not too hot, unlike the foot spa at the Sakurajima which was rather unbearable. I felt relaxed after the dip and slept well that night.
It has been raining throughout the night and when we woke up, it was still raining. Breakfast was served at eight in the morning. The breakfast was sumptuous, the chef must have got up early to prepare.
After breakfast, it was still raining. By eleven, we decided to brave the rain to visit Jigoku or Hell. The Hell that I am referring to are the seven hot springs in Beppu meant for viewing rather than bathing. Five of the Hells are located in the Kannawan district and two in the Shibaseki district.
As we have visited the Unzen Jigoku at Nagasaki, which is less touristy, we decided to visit just two of the Hells. First was the Umi Jigoku or the Sea Hell, one of the more beautiful Hells that features a pond of blue boiling water next to a garden.
After braving the rain to take some photos, we bought the eggs and pudding that were cooked by the hot spring steam. Wrapping the eggs and pudding in plastic bags, then placed in the basket and hang above the hot spring for steaming.
Next to the souvenir shop and foot spa area is the Blood Pond Hell which features a pond of hot, red water.
Then we went to Oniyama Jigoku where a large number of crocodiles are bred and kept on the grounds of the “Monster Mountain Hell”. The force of the steam is so strong that about one and a half train cars can be pulled by its pressure, creating ideal conditions for breeding crocodiles.
As the rain was getting heavier and we have yet to take our lunch, I asked my travel buddy, Google, for a nearby mall where we can park our rental car under shelter and have our late lunch.
By the time we finished our lunch, it was almost four. We drove back to the Ryokan Hotel and the housekeeper served us hot matcha and snacks. Nice to have something hot on a cool rainy day.
I was not hungry, but I was looking forward to dinner time. Curious about what they will serve for dinner and how elaborate can they get today. Dinner was just as elaborate but served at a slightly faster pace. We started our dinner at seven and finished by half past eight.
After dinner, I took another dip into the onsen and packed my luggage to get ready for our next and final destination of the trip, Fukuoka.
This trip was made in October 2017.
How to get there – The five hells in the Kannawa district can be accessed by bus service 5, 7 and 9 from JR Beppu Station in about 15 minutes. Get off at Kannawa bus terminal, where all seven hells can be reached on foot. If you are exploring by rental car, free parking is provided at all the hells.
Opening Hours – 8:00 to 17:00 (No closing days)
Admission – 400 yen per hell or 2000 yen for all seven hells (one entry per hell on up to two consecutive days)
For more information on Jigoku, do go to www.beppu-jigoku.com.
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