Translated by Lester Somera
Enjoy The Otherworldly Sights Of Beppu Onsen's "Hell Tour"
Written by Keisuke Yamada
Beppu Onsen is a fascinating onsen resort area in Oita prefecture, Kyushu. The Beppu Jigoku Meguri, or "Hell Tour" gives you the chance to enjoy the amazing sights of created by explosive geysers and sulfuric acid hot springs!
It is said that there are currently over three thousand onsen, or hot springs, in Japan. Of these thousands, the greatest volume of hot water can be found at Beppu Onsen in Oita prefecture, with 95,167 liters surging through its springs every minute. Beppu Onsen boasts the second greatest volume of hot water of any hot spring in the world.
Beppu Onsen is famous for an activity known as the "Hell Tour" (Jigoku Meguri). On this tour, visitors go around the area to see eight special onsen spots. The appeal of the tour is the chance to get a look at these unconventional sights.
These eight scenes are so out-of-this-world that people refer to them as the “hell onsen”. This article will introduce some of the hot springs that really stand out.
* The hell onsen are sightseeing spots. People are not allowed into the springs.
The Hell Ocean
The largest hell onsen is the Hell Ocean (Umi jigoku). With its cobalt blue coloration, this onsen seems more like a resort pool than a hellscape.
However, the brilliant blue tint is the result of the sulfuric acid solution that fills the hot spring. Its beautiful waters might look cold, but the spring is actually 98 degrees. Be very careful to avoid getting too close to it.
Clouds of steam rise from the entirety of the Hell Ocean, and if you stand downwind, you can feel the steam wash over you.
The Hell of Oni-Ishi Bōzu
The Hell of Oni-Ishi Bōzu is adjacent to the Hell Ocean. This spring, filled with bubbling-hot, ash-colored mud, constantly sprays steam into the air. It got its name from how the smooth bubbles resemble the shaved heads of bōzu, the name for Buddhist monks in Japanese.
This little pool of grey mud, happily burbling away and looking almost alive, is both frightening and a little funny. It’s hard to take your eyes off it.
There are foot baths in the Hell of Oni-Ishi Bōzu, so you can relax here if you get tired.
The Hell of Tornadoes
The Hell of Tornadoes is a designated natural monument of Beppu City. It is distinct from other hell onsen because of its geyser, which periodically launches jets of hot water into the air.
These tremendous blasts of hot water are said to be able to reach a height of 50 meters, but because the geyser could severely scald the surrounding people if the water spurted too high, it’s currently contained by a roof, as you can see in the photo.
The hot water, at a temperature of about 150 degrees, shoots from the geyser when enough pressure builds up. The geyser’s blasts are spaced about 30 to 40 minutes apart, so be aware that you may not be able to see the phenomenon right away.
The Hell Pond of Blood
The Hell Pond of Blood is the oldest natural hell onsen. It got its name from the way that the red soil sediment at the bottom, when shaken up by the gushing water, dyes the surface of the spring red.
Take a look at the vivid colors; it looks as though the pond has been filled with blood. In this precious place, you can witness the wondrous natural phenomenon for yourself.
There Are Also Other Hot Springs in Beppu
Besides the hell onsen, Beppu also has other places such as this sand bath.
The underground hot spring heats the sand, and you can warm up in a very unique way.
When you visit Beppu for the Hell Tour, how about taking a dip in this sandy spring?
Beppu Hell Tour (Beppu Jigoku Meguri)
Address: Oita, Beppu, Kannawa 559-1
Operating hours: 8:00 - 17:00
Fixed holidays: None
Credit cards accepted: No
Other Languages: English
Pamphlets in Other Languages: English, Korean, Chinese
Closest station and access: From JR Beppu Station, get on a Kamenoi (亀の井) bus (#2, #5, #9, #24 or #41) bound for Kannawa. Get off at Umi-Jigoku-Mae or Kannawa and walk for one minute. The bus ride takes approximately 20 minutes.
Price range: Entry to one hot spring is 400 yen, a pass for all eight is 2100 yen (more details here)
Phone number: 0977-66-1577 (Beppu Hell Association)
Official website: Beppu Hell Tour (Japanese)