Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Bathe in a Sand Onsen at Beppu Kaihin Sunaba in Oita
Have you ever heard of sand onsen? Thay are very relaxing and good for your health. This article explains in details how to take a sand bath at Beppu Kahin Sunaba in Beppu, Oita.
Written by Keisuke Yamada
The Japanese love onsen. There are hot springs throughout the island, each with unique characteristics.
In Beppu, the yield of hot water is said to be the highest in Japan, and you can find various types of onsen to enjoy. Hot springs can be found all over the city. The resulting rising steam is also a characteristic of Beppu.
Today we will be introducing an eccentric onsen in Beppu - Beppu Kaihin Sunaba.
Beppu Kaihin Sunaba
Beppu Kaihin Sunaba is an onsen located along the coast where you don't bathe in hot water, but rather in hot sand. You bury your whole body in sand with just your face poking out. After about 15 minutes you'll be all warm and sweating.
Locals say that when they have friends visiting Beppu, they take them to Beppu Kaihin Sunaba. It's an onsen unusual enough even for the Japanese.
How to Bathe at Beppu Kaihin Sunaba
Now we'll explain in more detail how to bathe here.
First you will pay the fee at the reception. It costs 1030 yen.
After paying you will receive a small piece of paper called sunakake-ken (砂掛券, Sand Cover Ticket). Men will be handed a deep blue yukata, while women will get a red one. Keep the ticket until you enter the sand bath.
Next you will change into your yukata in the locker room. Take off all your clothes, including your underwear, and wear only the yukata. Sometimes visitors from overseas who aren't used to yukata might wear a swimsuit inside, or use two yukatas in order to feel safe.
To use a locker you are going to need 100 yen (non-refundable). If you don't have any change, ask at the reception if they can break a bill for you.
There are instructions written on the wall, so it might be a good idea to check the flow of the procedure before going in.
After changing you'll head to the sand pit. If you hand your sunakake-ken to the staff, you'll be guided to where to lie down. Put your head on the wooden pillow and lie on the sand.
Just keep your body straight and lie there. The staff will do the rest.
They will cover you in sand, just like this.
After a few minutes you will look like this. Now it's time to cover your neck.
They will carefully cover up your neck with their hands.
Now you're completely buried up to your neck in sand. You will be warmed slowly from underneath. It looks very relaxing, doesn't it?
Closing your eyes to take a nap, watching the ocean while you relax, or just gazing at the sky are all great options for passing the time in the sand.
How to Get Out
After 15 minutes, the staff will come help you. First you will get your hands out of the sand.
Next you'll get all that sand off your body.
Once you've got the sand off, you just stand up. You'll be covered in mud, like this.
After your sand bath, wash all the sand off in the shower by the locker room.
You can return your yukata here by the shower.
Once you've had a quick rinse in the shower and tidied the sandy yukata away, you can relax in the (water) onsen.
During the winter your body will cool quickly after you get out of the sand bath, so here you can get warm again.
When you visit Beppu, stop by Beppu Kaihin Sunaba. You can only experience this here. It's a facility exclusive to Beppu, the area with the highest yield of hot water in Japan. If you take your camera to the sandpit, the staff will take photos of you for free. At Beppu Kaihin Sunaba you will surely create some great memories of Oita.
Beppu Kaihin Sunaba
Address: Beppu, Shōningahama 9
Hours: March-November 8:30-18:00 (last entrance 17:00) / December-February 9:00-17:00 (last entrance 16:00)
Closed: 4th Wednesday of each month (the following day if that Wednesday is a holiday)
Credit cards: -
Menus in other languages: -
Nearest station: JR Beppu Daigaku station (別府大学駅)
Access: 5 minute walk from JR Beppu Daigaku station
Price range: 1030 yen
Phone number: +81-977-66-5737
Official website: Beppu Kaihin Sunaba (Japanese)