Making use of the long weekend, we traveled all the way down to the island of Kyushu to extend our explorations of Japan. One of its highlights is the hot spring resort Beppu. In Beppu, hot steam and water seem to come out of the ground just about everywhere, a veritable onsen craze is raging.
For sightseeing purposes, a tour of its Boiling Hells (Jigoku Meguri) is recommended. The combination ticket for 8 hells costs a rather hefty 2000 Y. Six of the hells are within walking distance of each other, while for two others, a short bus ride is required. While unfortunately heavily commercialized, the hells are an unusual sight for sure. Given the importance of food in Japan, most hells also have a culinary attraction: dumplings steamed in the hot steam coming from the ground, pudding and eggs cooked directly in the hot thermal water, you name it.
In some cases, it seems to have been felt that the natural attraction of the hells was insufficient, so somewhat misplaced features like badly kept zoo animals and fishes in loveless bare aquariums have been added. I guess this also explains the elevated admission fee. Maybe those hells could be skipped in a tour.
Making use of the video feature of my new camera, here comes the direct boiling hell experience (only the sulfur smell missing)!
The first hell we visited is Oniishi Bozu Jigoku (Oniishi Shaven Head Hell):
The bubbles of mud are resembling shaved heads.
Next in line, Umi Jigoku, the Ocean Hell, named for its blue color.
This is one of my favorite hells. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden and the blue pool is nestled into the lush wooded hills surrounding Beppu.
The next hell is Yama Jigoku, the Mountain Hell, where steam comes directly from the rocks:
Another view of the mountain hell:
While the steam vents are quite nice, this hell features several sad exotic animals like an elephant and a rhino, for which their small concrete cages probably are their own personal hell.
The Kamado Jigoku, graced with a tasteful devil on a giant cooking pot, features several bubbling mud holes:
Another mud pool at Kamado-Jigoku:
Oniyama Jigoku (Demon Mountain Hell) features a pool where steam is exiting especially forcefully:
Here, the unfortunate idea of adding crocodile ponds (yes, you heard right, ugh) detracts from the experience. It is claimed that the hot spring water is ideal for these creatures, but I am left with a doubt.
Shiraike (or White Pond) Hell looks as the name promises:
The white pond is quite a nice sight. Above-mentioned sad fishes live here.
Chinoike Jigoku means Blood Pond Hell. Its water receives its red color from dissolved clay:
This hell is somewhat further away and again one of the best. The red water is very striking, and the beautiful surroundings of the green hills make it an overall very beautiful place.
Last but not least, Tatsumaki Jigoku is a geyser that erupts about every 30 minutes:
This hell is close the Blood Hell Pond. We had to wait 12 minutes for the eruption. My first geyser!