Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Oita
Population
1,221,128

Oita

Highway to hell

Bathe in hell (in a good way) in onsen-filled Oita.

For a serious onsen (hot spring bath) experience, there’s no place like Oita. Billowing steam from countless hot spring towns gives the impression that much of the prefecture is constantly on fire.

Despite its hellish properties, Oita’s volcanic landscape is extremely beautiful to look at. It’s also just plain fun to explore. Enjoy great hiking, ancient shrines, temples and more for some rewarding entertainment in between baths.

The Hells of Beppu

The Sea Hell, one of the eight hells (Jigoku), multi-colored volcanic pool of boiling water in Kannawa district in Beppu, Japan.

Visit the eight hells of Beppu, multi-colored volcanic pools of boiling water.

Beppu is the onsen capital of Kyushu, if not the whole of Japan, boasting the highest number of hot spring sources and hundreds of baths across a dedicated spa town. Basically, it’s like an onsen theme park in a relaxing rural setting.

You’ll find hot spring baths, mud baths, sand baths, milky baths, blood baths, and steam baths spread out across the area. Some are said to cure ailments from backaches to gastroenteritis, while others increase beauty or restore youth.

Can I use the onsen if I have a tatoo?

Most are for bathing but there are eight that are definitely not. These jigoku, or Hells of Beppu are touted as the area’s tourist highlight. Take a tour of the eight spots including the “blood pond” and “tornado hell,” and try the various steamed foods made with their hot water. Who knew Hell would be so fun?

Onsen hopping in Oita

Leave the onsen gimmicks behind by heading to Yufuin, another hot spring resort town along the foot of Mount Yufu-dake. Here you’ll find a slightly more refined, traditional atmosphere. Traditional inns, boutique restaurants, cafes, and stores line the main streets leading towards picturesque Lake Kinrin-ko. There’s some fantastic hiking in the area around the Aso-Kuju National Park which extends all the way from Mount Aso in Kumamoto.

Yuya Ebisu tattoo-friendly onsen in Japan

Photo by: Yuya Ebisu Onsen Yuya Ebisu is just one of Oita’s tattoo-friendly hot springs.

Tattoos in onsen are traditionally taboo, but with Japan hosting both the 2020 Olympics and 2019 Rugby World Cup Games, many onsen are changing their rules (slowly). Oita has one of the largest concentrations of tattoo-friendly onsen in Japan—it’s a must-visit for inked hot springs lovers.

Oita, Japan - November 29, 2014: The main shopping street of Yufuin in Oita, Japan.

Explore the scenic streets of Yufuin.

Head over towards the southeastern side of the prefecture to visit coastal Oita City and try some tasty fugu (pufferfish). Only trained chefs are allowed to prepare the notoriously-poisonous delicacy, so don’t worry, it’s safe! Further on is Usuki, a quaint castle town known for its awe-inspiring cliffside Buddha carvings.

Ready to go to Hell and back in Oita? Start with the locations below.

Trivia

Can I use the onsen if I have a tatoo?

Hell yeah, you can! Oita has the largest concentration of tattoo-friendly hot springs in Japan. Check them out plus more with our awesome list of 30 Tattoo-Friendly Onsen in Japan.

More

Places to visit

Beppu's Takegawara Onsen.

Takegawara Onsen

Get buried in warm black sand in this Meiji-era onsen — that's tattoo friendly!

Kabeyu Hot Spring

Oita’s secret mixed-gender onsen in a cave!


Ekimae Koto Onsen.

Ekimae Koto Onsen

We're in love with this tattoo-friendly onsen with roasting temperatures.

Ohara Chaya, oita

Ohara Chaya Restaurant

Hidden in a bamboo grove, your Japanese basket of goodies awaits.


Beppu Safari

A little bit of Africa in Japan at this safari park.

The view of Beppu and Oita city with beautiful Beppu Bay

Mount Tsurumi

A mountain with a view.


Oita, Japan - November 29, 2014: The main shopping street of Yufuin in Oita, Japan.

Yufuin

Close to Beppu, this rural hot spring town is as scenic as they come.

The Sea Hell, one of the eight hells (Jigoku), multi-colored volcanic pool of boiling water in Kannawa district in Beppu, Japan.

Hells of Beppu

Go to hell.

Other Destinations in Kyushu

Dazaifu shrine in Fukuoka prefecture

Fukuoka

Fukuoka Prefecture isn't just about partying, but it's a good place to start.

Kagoshima, Japan with Sakurajima Volcano.

Kagoshima

Traditional, tropical, mystical, and magical; Kagoshima is nothing short of extraordinary.

Mountain Pass in Kumamoto Prefecture Japan

Kumamoto

Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.

Takachiho gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki

Miyazaki is a mountainous and mango-growing prefecture to rival Okinawa in the tropical paradise stakes.

View over Mount Unzen Hot Spring - Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture Japan

Nagasaki

Looking out to the East, Nagasaki prefecture has long been the gateway between the outside world and Japan.

Ishigaki island lagoon in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Okinawa

White sand beaches and crystal blue waters, jungles and rare wildcats, centuries of unique native traditions, the birthplace of karate — this is Japan’s very own tropical island paradise.

Saga Prefecture Rice fields in Japan

Saga

Saga is the smallest prefecture on the island of Kyushu best known for its prized, and pricey, pottery.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

People eating and drinking in Yurakucho Tokyo Japan.

Tokyo

From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.

Akihabara

Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.