What the HELL? Visiting Japan's Hot "Hells" in Beppu


In my last post we had spent a night in Fukuoka sampling the terrific street food it’s known for. But that was only a pit-stop on our way to Oita, the Japanese prefecture known for its hot springs (Onsen). The Japanese are crazy into their Onsen and I wanted to try as many as possible – especially in the main Onsen region.

So, the morning after, full of excitement, we went to pick up our rental car to start the long drive. It turns out you need an international driving license to drive in Japan, so we were promptly turned away and we headed for the train station instead.

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

Arriving in Beppu we left our luggage in lockers and took a bus to the 'Hells' area, which is home to over 2K hot springs. The city itself sits on these hot springs, the steam rising from the earth visible from any high up vantage point.

Beppu is home to the 8 "hells" (Jigoku). The most famous ones are the Sea Hell (Umki Jigoku), so named because of the blueness of the boiling (!) water; and then the Blood Pond Hell (Chinoike Jigoku) which is red because of the clay and minerals underneath the water.

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Boiling Eggs in the Sea Hell
We ended up buying a combined ticket and visiting a few of the hells and in my honest opinion, they have been bastardised by tourism.

There are dozens of tourist coaches outside each, massive tourist shops take precedence and poor signage means you have a whole circus around a beautiful natural wonder. This almost raises your expectations too much, instead of letting you appreciate the beauty of it.

Nevertheless, we only spent half a day in Beppu, and we still enjoyed the walks around the Hells (you can't walk between Hells, you have to get a taxi or bus) - here are some of my favourite things:

1. The Botanic Area & Greenhouse in the Sea Hell


Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
I mean... just look at this little one
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Water Lilies

2. Walking Around the Sea Hell Area

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

3. Watching the Eggs Boil in the Sea Hell

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

4. Taking a Hot Foot Bath at the Sea Hell

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
The water is so hot, I'm in pain...
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

The water comes out of the springs too hot for a foot bath, so it goes through this contraption in order to cool down before it goes into the pool.

5. The Blood Pond Hell

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com
"Bloddy hell" pond!
Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

After the Blood Pond Hell we were pretty much exhausted. We headed back to the train station where we'd left our bags and waited for our train to take us to relaxation central, Yufuin. Here, we'd have downtime, hot baths in spas and lovely bike rides. But that another day's story.

Visiting the Beppu Hells and the Yufuin Onsen Spas of Japan // Visit Travel Blog Journougraphie.com

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