After running around the cities for a couple of days, it was time to take a break and relax. Hence, we took a train to Beppu – a hot spring city surrounded by beautiful sea and mountains.
Beppu is located along the east coast of Oita Prefecture and is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan, offering a range of bath types that can be enjoyed there. From the conventional hot springs to steam baths, mud baths, and even sand baths, where one is buried under a pile of thermal sand. Beppu hot springs are commonly known as “Beppu Hatto”, a collection of eight hot spring areas.
The volume of water for hot spring bathing is the second largest in the world after Yellowstone National Park in the USA, even though Yellowstone is 70 times larger than Beppu. Interestingly, out of the eleven types of hot springs in the world, ten can be found in Beppu (except for the radium hot spring)
There is plenty to see and do in Beppu, so let me tell you more about the more exciting activities you can do there.
Relax at Beppu Onsen
As I wrote above, Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring cities, and public hot springs are scattered all around the city. The prices range from cheap ones (~100 ¥) to fancy and expensive ones (more than 1000 ¥).
As we got an onsen in our hotel, we didn’t venture much around the public bathhouses, but we still couldn’t resist at least trying it once. Hence, we went to a public bath located next to Oniishibozu Jigoku, where we could enjoy a private hot spring for just the two of us. It was a pleasant, relaxing experience of lying in hot water after an exhausting day of running around in the city. Plus, we were delighted to have a private bath, where just the two of us could enjoy it together in peace.
Stay in ryokan
Out of all places in Japan, a hot spring city is a perfect place to book a ryokan – a traditional Japanese hotel. You will get access to onsens (hot springs) located in your hotel, and if you splurge a little, you can even get one in your room! Most ryokans also offer incredible food from the local area, making it a fantastic experience itself.
Click here if you would like to know what to expect and how to behave in a ryokan.
We stayed in Seaside Hotel Mimatsu Ooetei, where we enjoyed traditional breakfast and dinner, as well as really nice onsen located on the top floor with a magnificent view of the sea and the coast.
Enjoy a sand bath
Beppu has many kinds of unique onsens, and sunayu (sand bath) is one of them. The sands at Beppu Beach Sand Bath (Beppu Kaihin Sanayu ) are heated by waters rich in sodium-hydrogen carbonate, which can alleviate many health issues and boost general well-being.
The moment I have read about them, I knew I had to try! Who wouldn’t want to get buried under thermal sand and relax while enjoying the tranquil sound of the waves?
When you buy a ticket, you will get a yukata (a traditional Japanese cotton garment) to which you will have to change. We also had to purchase small towels, as we didn’t bring any. When you get to the beach, the ladies will show you a spot where you will lie down, adjust your position, and then cover your with sand, so just the head will be sticking out.
For the next 15 minutes, you will be lying down, sweating, looking at the sea, and listening to the waves. If this is not pure relaxation, I don’t know what is. For me, the temperature was perfect, and if I could, I would stay for another 15 minutes. On the other hand, my boyfriend reached his boiling limit, and one session was enough for him.
Remember to take a camera or phone with you, as the staff will happily take a picture of your head sticking out of sand 🙂
The only problem I had, was that even though I was wearing yukata, took a shower, and jumped into onsen right after, I still managed to find sand everywhere for the next couple of days 😛
Find details on the official site.
Visit seven hells of Beppu
Jigoku Meguri (Beppu Hell Tour) is a famous sightseeing tour including seven nearby hot springs. Beppu hells (Jigoku) are unique hot springs that reach over 100 degrees Celsius and are the most renowned attraction in Beppu. In the olden days, people assumed those places were cursed because of the gas and water bubbling up and hence called them hells.
Chinoike and Tatsumaki Jigoku are in the Shibaseki district, while Shiraike, Oniyama, Kamado, Umi, and Oniishi Bozu Jigoku are in the Kannawa district. Technically, there are eight Hells, but Yama Jigoku is not included in the Jigoku Meguri ticket (Hells pass). Each of the hot springs offers a unique experience and incredible views.
To read more about different hells, click on the link.
Try Beppu Ropeway
The Beppu Ropeway is one of the best places to come and see the magnificent views of steam-covered Beppu, Beppu Bay, Oita City, and Mount Yufu. The ropeway will take you near the summit of Mount Tsurumi (1375 meters), from where you can hike further up the mountain and reach the top within 15 minutes. There are also many pathways in the area, leading to viewpoints from which you can see different parts of the Kyushu landscape.
If you prefer, it is possible to bypass the ropeway and climb up the entire mountain in about two hours via a hiking trail that starts at the lower ropeway station. There is also the possibility to hike all the way from Beppu. A cool guide on how to hike the mountain can be found on this blog.
Autumn leaves start changing from the middle of October and gradually transition down the mountain. When we were there middle of November, we still managed to see the leaves at the bottom of the mountain, displaying striking red and yellow colors and mixing together with blooming “October Sakura” and “Winter Sakura” cherry blossoms creating an unusual and unique feat for our eyes. Two of my favorite seasons in one <3
When to go:
- Cherry trees bloom around early and mid-April. There are approximately 2000 treas scattered around by the foot of the mountain.
- Rhododendrons color the mountain from mid-May to early June.
- Fall colors appear in early October to November.
- Winter Cherry blossoms can be seen from November to December.
- The hoarfrost mostly happens between December and mid-March.
More info about prices and opening hours can be found on their official website.
Visit Kijima Kogen Amusement Park
We saw the amusement park from the top of Beppu Ropeway, and our interest was immediately piqued. We got to googling and unfortunately found out that the park was closed on the only day we could make it.
Nonetheless, the park looks interesting and features an exciting attraction called Jupiter – Japan’s first wooden roller coaster.
More info on the official website.
How long to stay
We only had two days in Beppu, and I felt it was not enough. Between sitting in a hot spring and relaxing and running around and sightseeing, we ended up running out of time 🙂 I think one or two days more would be perfect for achieving complete relaxation and trying even more hot spring (though I am pretty sure my boyfriend has had enough already).