The hot springs of Beppu is call the Jigoku Onsens as the site is unapproachable, because of fumarolic gas of around 100 degrees. Thermal mud and hot springs have been gushing tremendously from the ground for over 1,000 years. The onsens are designated as the places of scenic beauty in Beppu by the authorities.
There are a total of 8 pools consisting of the cobalt blue ocean hell, ‘Umi jigoku’, deep-red blood pond hell ‘Chi-no Ike Jigoku’ as well as Oniishi Bozu Jigoku (Onishi Shaven Head Hell), ‘Yama Jigoku’ (Mountain Hell), ‘Kamado Jigoku’(Boiling Hell), ‘Oniyama Jigoku’ (Demon Mountain Hell), ‘Shiraike Hell’ (White Pond Hell) and ‘Tatsumaki Jigoku’ (Geyser Hell). The map will show you where all the ponds are located, some of them are very close to each other and there are 2 that are more out of the way and you can reach by car. After reading, we decided to only visit 2 of the ponds.
Firstly the Kamado pond which has a few ponds so you can sort of see a few ponds within the Kamado pond and skip visiting the others. As it was the golden week when I visited, it was extremely crowded.
Each hot spring pond has their own individual entrances and you can purchase a combo ticket for all the ponds at ¥2,000 or individual ponds entry at ¥400. There are different concessions for students, group as well as handicapped people. As we bought individual tickets, we got the entry tickets for the Kamado pond first.
There are various red demon statues throughout the Kamado pond and various signboards explaining the different ponds
The red demon is actually the Guardian god of the area where people give offerings of steamed rice cooked using the hot springs to receive blessings.
The first hot spring you see is this one with cobalt blue color which is small in size.
You will pass these stands where you get to have a taste of the hot spring water which has been filtered and is safe for drinking
The next booth is an area where you can steam your hands and legs using the steam from the hot spring. The temperature is not really that hot and is quite warm and nice in the cooling weather.
The final booth is one where you can steam your face and breathe in the hot dense air. It was really hard to breathe as you stand in the steam and reminds me of those steam room in the club rooms.
The next pond is this mini sized mud pond where the hot air bubbles through mud. This pond is similar to the one at Oniishi Bozu Jigoku which is boiling mud pools and look like the shaven heads of monks
The next pool is this red pond which is similar to the one at Chinoike Jigoku which is a pond of hot, red water. At 5 mins interval, they have a guide speaking in Japanese going around the ponds giving explanations. A cool fact is that, when you flick in some cigarette ashes into the ponds, they start to give out white smoke. The reason behind this, I’m not sure as they were explaining in Japanese but the sight of it is very cool.
There were stalls selling food like steamed eggs, steams buns all cooked using the steam or water from the hot springs.
Just next to the food store are small foot ponds filled with water from the hot springs for visitors to soak their feet.
The next pond we visited was the Umi Jigoku which is the biggest and supposedly most beautiful pond of all the 8 ponds.
The queue to enter this pond was visibly longer showing the popularity of this pond. The tickets for this pond is really cute with the mascot of the Beppu hells.
Once you enter the Umi Jigoku, you will walk through this pretty landscaped garden which has plenty of trees and flowers
There is a huge pond which sits right in the middle of the garden and looks like some imperial garden set out of a Chinese dynasty drama.
The main hot spring pond is right at the back and is extremely blue and pretty. It is called the hell of sea which is why the water is so blue.
The size of the pong is also huge with lotsa of smoke coming out from the pond. The pond itself is surrounded by lush forest and gardens
At one corner of the garden, there is red structures as well as a bridge leading to a small Japanese shrine. The entire area is very good for Instagram as there are good color contrasts.
As this is the most popular pond, you also see mascots walking around the pond taking pictures with visitors.
Since we are here, we had to try the popular steamed egg which was at ¥110 each. You are given a small plastic tub and a pack of salt to eat the egg. Frankly speaking, there was nothing different about the egg at all; it was more of a hype thing
Just next to the pond, there is an air conditioned rest area which houses the café that sells food and drinks as well seating for visitors to rest. There is also a huge souvenir area selling many products unique to the Beppu area.
Just before we exit, there was a long queue for this store selling small red bean buns steamed using the steam from the hot springs
The store is mended by 3 persons, an old lady who does the sales, an old gentleman who steams and packs the buns and a younger guy who makes the buns. This is the gentleman bringing out the buns by wooden tray and steaming them by this ancient looking stove which has steam from the hot springs
You can see the young guy making the buns right at the corner of the kitchen
One box has a total of 20 mini buns and are sold at ¥750 per box. We queued for a total of 20 mins and decided we should buy at least 2 boxes.
These little buns are out of the world and is so scrumptious that I was popping them in my mouth one after another. The red bean was sweet yet not overpowering and the bun was soft and chewy. Even after leaving them around for 10 mins and they have turned cold, the buns were still soft and did not hardened. This is extremely hard for buns so the skills to make it is very important.
Another item to try is the steamed egg pudding which is a sweet dessert that you often find in convenience store. The pudding has caramel right at the bottom of the cup and is bittersweet so people who do not like the bittersweet taste might not like it. The pudding is nice but I find that it is similar to the one I find in the convenience stores so there is really nothing special.
Overall, the visit to Beppu hells is quite enjoyable and would take approximately an entire day as it takes a good amount of walking to and fro the different ponds. Rather than eating the eggs and pudding, I would highly recommend getting the mini red bean buns at Umi Jigoku as you will not be able to get it elsewhere.
Address: 559-1 Kannawa, 大字 Beppu, Oita 874-0000, Japan
Operating hours: 8 am to 5 pm