Beppu is dubbed the hot springs (onsen) town and for good reasons too. On top of having many hot springs around, there is also the Jigoku. The word "Jigoku" takes its meaning, "burning hell" from the ancient Buddhist sutras of the East.
You will observe that steam seems to be coming out from the ground even in drains! We got to Beppu via the JR Train - it was a 2 hour train ride. We arrived at the train station and went straight to the Information Counter to get the maps for the area. There, we learned that we could purchase a Bus Pass (JPY900 per person) allowing one day travel on all bus services in Beppu. Along with that, we were told of the main attractions - the most important being the Jigoku Meguri, the "Hell" Tour. If you intend to visit all 8 Jigokus, I suggest you buy the whole package at JPY1,890. The package will give you entrance to all 8 Jigokus. Remember to get the bus timetable at the same time. There are two bus stops at Beppu Station – one at the east entrance and the other the west. Take Bus Number 9 from the west bus stop to Umi Jigokumae stop – it should take about 20 minutes. Don't stop at Kannawa station first, go to Umi Jigokumae stop first as that takes a shorter time.
When you alight at Umi Jigokumae stop, you can visit Oniishibozu-Jigoku, Umi-Jigoku and Yama-Jigoku. When you are done, walk down the road and you will find Kamado-Jigoku. Next one is the Oniyama-Jigoku and then there is Shiraike-Jigoku. By the time you are done at Shiraike-Jigoku, you will be near Kannawa Bus Terminal.
However, we missed the number 9 bus and had to take the 41 to Kannawa and started with the Shiraike-Jigoku.
The White Pond Hell is so called because the colourless water that spouts from the ground mysteriously turns creamy white.
The serenity of the Japanese styled garden adds to the charm of this Jigoku.
Walking up the road, one is lead to the next Jigoku - the Oniyama-Jigoku. Here, the force from the steam is so great that is it supposed to be able to one and a half train cars.
Here is Gina by the "mascot" for the Oniyama-Jigoku.
The Jigokus are well known as areas serving food using the steam generated from the Jigoku. We stopped by a street stall to eat sweet potato and corn - cooked (steamed) by the hot steam from the Jigoku.
We then made our way to Kamado-Jigoku which has a cobalt blue boiling pond.
The unique ponds here have boiling mud pools too. All the ponds are boiling over at 100 degrees celsius.
Then we headed up towards Yama-Jigoku. Hidden amongst the rocks you will see steam rising...
And the pond...colours of turquoise and bronze.
The most picturesque of all is Umi-Jigoku. As you walk into the Jigoku, the sight of the garden especially during autumn is one of the most arresting sight amongst all the Jigokus.
The view of the garden from inside the Jigoku towards the entrance.
The greenish blue steaming pond is also equally beautiful as it resembles the blue sea.
According to the guidebook, this pond was developed some 1,200 years ago and is the deepest of ponds going down some 200 metres.
The walk around the main pond gives an equally arresting sight.
Umi-Jigoku is also one of the larger Jigokus by ground size. A nice walk around the grounds is what we did.
A different pond in Umi-Jigoku.
Lastly, we visited Oniishibozu-Jigoku.
The boiling mud pools gives the name of this Jigoku - they resemble bald heads, the boiling bubbles.
To visit the last 2 Jigoku, take Bus Number 16 or 16A from Kannawa Bus Terminal to Chinoike Jigoku-mae bus stop. That should take around 10 minutes. The first Jigoku is the Chinoike-Jigoku and within a 3 minute walk is the Tatsumaki-Jigoku. The Tatsumaki-Jigoku is a geyser and the show starts at specific intervals. I suggest you check the timing of the show – if it is within 15 minutes, stay at the Tatsumaki-Jigoku to witness the geyser spouting. Then go back to the Chinoike-Jigoku.
Unknown to us, we visited Chinoike-Jigoku first.
Having been to the other Jigokus, this one is not as spectacular. But significant it is. This is Japan's oldest documented Jigoku and the clay that gives the red hue to this pond has medicinal properties. They are used to make the "Chinoike Ointment" which is used to treat some skin conditions.
So we made our way to Tatsumaki-Jigoku. As we entered the entrance, the lady told us the geyser will be spouting within 15 minutes. So walk around the Jigoku we did to explore a quiet garden behind the seating gallery.
At around 4pm, the show began with the host giving some explanation of how the geyser is unique. Unlike most other geysers, the one at Tatsumaki is special as the time between spouts of the geyser is shorted than most.
From the Chinoike-Jigoku, take the bus back to Beppu Station – you can do it in two ways. Take the bus back to Kannawa Station and change there or take the service 16 back to Beppu. Both will get you back to the west Beppu station. The whole tour should take around 4 hours depending on how long you want to stay at each Jigoku.
Back at Beppu, we stayed at Hotel Arthur which is about 3 minutes walk from the Beppu Train Station. As Beppu is famous for their onsens, we went in search of the onsen around our hotel. Just a stones throw away from Hotel Arthur is Ekimae Onsen. About 15 minutes walk away is perhaps the oldest onsen in Beppu - Takegawara Onsen.
We were told the Takegawara onsen has pools at around 41 degrees celsius so we skipped it for fear it was too hot for us.
We ended the day eating at Watamin-chi, a Yakitori restaurant just opposite the train station.
We started with some vegetable skewers - mushroom, green peppers stuffed with cheese, lettuce wrapped in bacon and eggplant.
Then came the pork skewer, chicken heart and tomato.
We ended off with the chicken and minced chicken ball.
We were there on a Monday night and the town was "dead" after 7.30pm. Maybe we didn't find hard enough but many of the shops were close by 8pm.
Had we not stayed at Beppu, the journey would have been another 2 hours by train back to Hakata. Perhaps it would have been better if we had headed back to Hakata. Point to consider when planning to stay overnight or head back - most onsens close around 8pm except for Hotel Arthur that was open till past midnight. But do note that the onsen in Hotel Arthur is open for different gender during specific times. If I recall correctly, the women has it between 2000hrs-2200hrs.
Photos taken by iPhone 6S Plus