Translated by Allie
Crocodiles In The Hot Springs?! The "Hell Springs" Tour In Beppu
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
When visiting Beppu in Oita prefecture, you simply must take a trip to see the "Hell Springs" (Jigoku onsen). Today we take a closer look at Kamado Jigoku and Oni Mountain Jigoku and their unique features.
Have you ever heard of the Hell Tour in the hot spring resort of Beppu? We have previously introduced this tour before, but today in our second edition, we would like to focus on two other destinations in this tour: Kamado Jigoku and Oni Mountain Jigoku.
Kamado Jigoku: Experience Jigoku (Hell) and Gokuraku (Paradise)
Kamado Jigoku has an entrance gate with a cute raccoon on it.
Once you pass the gate, demons with scary faces will welcome you, making you very certain that you are now travelling into a Hellish world..
Experience the Various Hells at Once
There are six districts (from 1-chome to 6-chome) in Kamado Jigoku. Each of them has its own unique onsen, giving the district a distinct scenery and air. This is an excellent place to visit for those who do not have the time to tour through other hot spring areas.
In the photo above you can see the pool of Jigoku 3-chome, a hot spring with a beautiful robin’s egg blue color to it. The white line that rings around the pond is composed of hot spring sediment, silica in this case.
The pool formed from sticky clay in the above photo is located in Jigoku 4-chome. The color comes not from iron oxide but from the various types of clay that are melting in the pool itself.
In the instant that the staff blow the smoke from a cigarette or match near where the steam rises from this pool, the amount of steam grows quickly, billowing out around and taking the audience by surprise. The day that we visited, the staff explained this phenomenon in Korean to the crowd of onlookers, which made the visitors very happy.
Not Only Hell but Gokuraku Too
Although we have only introduced some of the Jigoku areas so far, there are also Gokuraku or Paradise districts (0-chome to 3-chome) to see here too. The steam from the next hot spring has an exceptional moisturizing effect to it. Simply leaning over the steam will really make it feel more moist quickly.
There is even a spring where you can take a drink of the hot spring water. The temperature of the water is 80 degrees however, so you must take care when drinking it not to burn yourself.
Taste Local Specialties
After experiencing both Hell and Paradise, please do not forget to try the onsen pitan (a preserved hot spring egg, 70 yen each), and the Jigoku soy sauce pudding (270 yen each) too.
The onsen pitan is a boiled egg where the egg white has turned brown. Although it is quite delicious on its own, we recommend pouring extra soy sauce over it to enrich the taste of the egg even further.
Unlike standard Japanese puddings, the Jigoku soy sauce pudding has soy sauce under it rather than a caramel sauce. The creamy pudding and salty soy sauce go together surprisingly well.
Unlike the other locations, you will see a lot of metal fences here when you enter this hell.
Oni Mountain Jikoku is also called ‘Crocodile Hell’. This facility began taking care of crocodiles in 1923, and now there are 70 crocodiles that soak daily in the hot springs here. Typically found in subtropical climates, the crocodiles lead healthy and happy lives here thanks to the natural energy of the hot springs.
Crocodiles are nocturnal creatures in the wild, so they are not very active during the day at all. We highly recommend visiting on Wednesdays or Saturdays when they have regular feeding times for the crocodiles. The sight of them jumping and snapping at the food is really quite amazing, and a little scary.
First visiting various Hells and Paradises at Kamado Jigoku, then seeing the beasts that live in Oni Mountain Jigoku - what an exciting day! Each Hell has its own charms and all offer their own distinct dishes too. When you visit Beppu, please make sure to get the most out of these Hellish sights by using the Hell Pass (2100 yen)!