A quaint, touristy and hospitable city, Beppu is located in Oita Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Upon seeing the steam rising from various vents throughout the city, one immediately recognizes why this is such a popular tourist destination. Beppu City produces more onsen (hot spring) water than any other area in Japan!
This long, thin city is framed by the coast on one side and mountains on the other, making walking to various onsens and tourist destinations relatively easy. However, if you plan to visit the Jigoku (Hells), you are better off arranging for transportation.
The Jigoku are seven multi-colored volcanic pits of boiling water and mud, which reaches temperatures of 122-210°F, and as a result are designated for viewing rather than bathing. A geyser called Tatsumaki-Jigoku is also a part of the popular Hells. It erupts every 30 to 40 minutes and the eruptions lasts for approximately 5 minutes.
Viewing hours for the Jigoku are between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. The Tatsumaki-Jigoku will remain open a little past 5:00 PM. One can easily view all eight Jigoku at a leisurely pace in about two and a half hours.
Each Jigoku bears its own name: Umi-Jigoku (Sea Hell), Oniishibozu-Jigoku (Shaven Monk’s Head Hell), Yama-Jigoku (Mountain Hell), Kamado-Jigoku (Boiling Hell), Oniyama-Jigoku (Demon Mountain Hell), Shiraike-Jigoku (White Pond Hell), Chinoike-Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell), Tatsumaki-Jigoku (Geyser Hell).
The Beppu Jigoku Association (Tel. 0977-66-1577) maintains the Hells. The admission charges are as follows: ¥400 per ticket for each individual Hell and ¥2,000 for a combination ticket for all seven Hells and the geyser. (Note🙂 If you purchase an unlimited bus ticket at the Foreign Tourist Office at the Beppu train station, you will receive a coupon book , which includes a ¥200 discount coupon for the purchase of combination tickets. The combination ticket is a much better deal even without the discount coupon.
Also while in Beppu, make sure to try the Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway (Tel. 0977-22-2278). The ropeway will take you 2,600 feet up to the top of Mount Tsurumi, where you can enjoy a full view of the city and Beppu Bay. Once you exit the last ropeway station on the top, you will walk uphill for approximately 10 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Tsurumi. There are several small temples and shrines you can visit along the way.
Hours for the ropeway vary by season but it typically stops running around dusk. The cost to ride the ropeway is ¥1,400 round trip.
So, whether you are here to relax in the soothing onsen waters or to be mesmerized by the Hells, Beppu City has something for everyone.
Photo credits: Rocky Andoh