Japan is home to some of the most beautiful hot springs in the world. Regardless if you’re in a rural or urban area, the country has lots of accessible options that will let you enjoy the natural gift of geothermal heat – relaxing and therapeutic at its best. But did you know that there are specific places in Japan particularly recognized for their interesting hot springs?
If your itinerary includes hot spring hopping, then Oita Prefecture’s Beppu City should be among your choices. Considered as the top hot spring resort destination in Japan, Beppu prides itself on some unconventional onsen experience one will not easily find elsewhere.
It’s a curious name, to begin with. A simple search online will reveal how these “8 Hells” refer to Beppu City’s eight prominent hot springs that are often part of tour itineraries for first-time visitors. But the major catch is that these hot springs are not for bathing! While their natural beauties remain a temptation for guests, their boiling temperatures just aren’t as welcoming as they look.
Two specific districts house these eight attractions in Beppu. Today, we’ll take a glimpse of what you can enjoy during your visit to these boiling spots!
1. Oniyama Jigoku
Also known as the “Crocodile Hell,” this onsen is primarily popular for the view of crocodiles soaking in a hot spring. This location is a facility that breeds crocodiles and is open to guests who wish to witness crocodiles being fed. Snacks cooked using geothermal heat are available, as well as souvenir items unique to Oniyama Jigoku.
2. Shiraike Jigoku
Literally meaning “White Pond Hell,” this hot spring is a real sight to behold. Guests can enjoy the sight of hot, colorless water gushing out and turning bluish-white as it joins the pond. This hot spring has a temperature of 95 degrees Celsius, so you see why viewing it from a safe distance is necessary. Surrounding it is a traditional Japanese-style garden that guests will also enjoy.
3. Umi Jigoku
Tagged as the “Sea Hell,” this hot spring is a combination of beauty and danger at its best. The spring’s boiling blue water is a must-see, and the popular eggs and pudding cooked using the spring’s heat are things that you need to try!
4. Kamado Jigoku
Popularly known as the “Cooking Pot Hell,” this onsen offers a variety of snacks that are cooked using the spring’s steam. To complete the setup, a demon statue is erected to symbolize a hell cook. Other activities such as hand and foot baths can also be enjoyed on Kamado’s common grounds.
5. Oniishibozu Jigoku
This place is otherwise known as the “Shaven Head Hell” and is characterized by grayish mud bubbles that appear every now and then due to the water’s temperature of 99 degrees Celsius. Guests can enjoy the sight, as well as a bathing experience at an adjacent public bath.
6. Yama Jigoku
Also known as “Mountain Hell,” this hot spring looks like mud puddles that produce steam which is beneficial to some animals around the area. In fact, you can enjoy a nearby mini zoo that houses monkeys, snakes, flamingos, peacocks, and more.
7. Tatsumaki Jigoku
Known by many as the “Spout Hell,” this attraction is more like a geyser than an actual hot spring. It spouts boiling water every 30 to 40 minutes for a duration of around six to 10 minutes, enough for viewers to take cool photos and record the experience. At its best, the water can reach up to 50 meters in height.
8. Chinoike Jigoku
Saving the best for last, as they say, I dare claim that this hot spring, otherwise known as the “Blood Pond Hell,” is the most attractive among all of Beppu’s hell springs. It is notable for its reddish color caused by iron oxide residing underwater. The water boils at 78 degrees Celsius and the place itself is said to be used as torture grounds during the ancient times. It’s bloody, all right.
Hot springs may still be best enjoyed by bathing, but you can’t just shy away from the idea of viewing them from afar if the sight is great enough. For fans of hot springs, do not miss Beppu’s “8 Hells”!