Hells of Beppu
Go to hell.
One of the most exciting attractions of Oita Prefecture, the Hells of Beppu (Jigoku Meguri) attract visitors from all over Japan. But beware, these onsen aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill hot springs as their temperatures are too high for anyone to soak in safely.
There are eight hells (“jigoku”) scattered around the Kannawa and Shibaseki districts of Beppu City, most of which are within walking distance of each other.
The Umi Jigoku, roughly translated as the “Ocean’s Hell”, is a beautiful shade of aquamarine and the cooking site of many a boiled onsen egg. Visitors can unwind at the nearby foot bath after a day’s hard work of touring the onsen. The Oniishibozu Jigoku is known for its bubbling mud, while the Shiraike Jigoku, translated as “The White Pond Hell” features an onsen characterized by steaming, milky-coloured waters.
Pay a visit to the city’s own miniature zoo and feed the various animals at the Yama Jigoku (“Mountain Hell”) and stop at the Oniyama Jigoku, where you can see the crocodiles at what is known as “The Monster Mountain’s Hell”.
For all the foodies out there, Kamado Jigoku, known as “The Cooking Pot Hell”, is where the party’s at. A vermillion-coloured statue overlooks the jigoku as eggs, vegetables and water are steamed by the onsen’s vapours. You may also enjoy hand-and-foot baths here if you wish.
The six aforementioned jigoku are located in Kannawa Town, while the following two are located in the Shibaseki district.
The Tatsumaki Jigoku, known as “The Tornado Hell”, stars a hot geyser that erupts erratically about every 30 to 40 minutes for periods of 6 to 10 minutes – a stone plate prevents the geyser’s eruptions from getting too out of control. There’s a schedule that’s posted for those looking to get footage of the eruptions. With waters reaching temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius, this jigoku is the hottest of them all.
The final onsen, known as the Chinoike Jigoku (“The Blood Pond Hell”), stands out in its own right because of its crimson waters caused by the levels of iron and magnesium-enriched clay that seeps into the pool from the ground. The vicinity also boasts a large souvenir shop in which you can purchase jigoku-themed souvenirs as well as locally steamed eats such as onsen pudding and onsen eggs.