Thursday, September 7, 2023

[OITA] Go To Hell, Beppu Has Seven

Do you want to go to hell? Perfect. Beppu has seven. Feel free to choose one. But wait, what the hell is Beppu? Beppu is a small city and also regarded as a spa resort in the prefecture of Oita. That is on the east coast of Japan’s southernmost island Kyushu. Oita has its own airport but flights are limited to Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. The best way to reach Beppu is from Fukuoka via the Sonic Nichirin train. This train is usually included in rail passes so I don’t know how much it costs if purchased separately. The trip lasts around two hours one-way with a short stop in Kitakyushu.

The first thing you do after getting off at Beppu’s train station is to follow the signs leading to the tourism office. The office is sufficiently manned and the people there are friendly. They will guide you as to what you need and where to get it. Beppu’s seven hells can be visited via DIY bus-hopping and Google Maps. Since I wasn’t in the mood to function as an adult when I went, I decided that the tour bus was the way to go. It was a bit steep at JPY4,000 (~PHP1,500) but the bus was air-conditioned, comfy, and with WiFi. The only downside is that the tour is entirely in Japanese, so a lot of my brain cells died that day.

All of the seven hells are included in the tour and I will try my best to provide an accurate description of each one. The tour took three hours in total from start to finish. That includes the return trip by bus.  Please don’t ask me about the names of all seven because I already forgot. We will go through this chronologically to preserve what is left of my sanity, hmmkay? The first two hells are right next to each other and, perhaps, the most crowded because they are the most accessible.

The guide takes you first to that hell with bright red tori on display. There is also a small lake by the entrance which features some unique greenery, like those giant lilies, and some resident birds. After passing through the gift shop, the first hell unfolds before your eyes. This one is of a bright blue color emitting vapor continuously. People go hardcore camwhoring here. Once you are done competing with all of them for a selfie, you can check out the nearby gardens.

The hell next door does not receive a lot of visitors because all it can display are pools of grey mud obsessed with bubbles. This one might not be aesthetically superior to the first one, but since there are less people here, it felt more tranquil. You can take a rest here if you got overwhelmed by the camwhore congregation next door. Once done, it’s time to walk a few blocks to get to the next hell.

The third hell is a mix of the first two you have seen so far. You get to see another bright blue pool with vapor. You also get a brown version of the bubbly mud pool. What’s evidently different is the small pool towards the end of the trail that features red water. This hell looks way bigger than the first two. There is also a communal foot bath there. As for the crowd, yes, there are more here so brace yourself.

The fourth hell is a cross between the steamy pools and crocodiles. Yes. Crocodiles. Or alligators? I don’t know the difference. It was really hot that day so I didn’t pay much attention. There is a small fenced pool by the entrance. The rest of the premises are reserved for the croc cages. Crocodile farms are not my cup of tea but to those who fancy them, then this fourth hell is for you!

The fifth hell requires a bit of walking down the hill. This one is quieter than most and features a small aquarium with various fish. The steamy pool here is bigger but of a boring moss green hue. Consider this as a resting stop after all that walking. It also has a pond with turtles in it.

The last two hells are next to each other and require a few minutes of driving. One of them is a geyser that erupts every 40 minutes or so. This means that your guide will either take you to the last hell first to check it out until the geyser erupts, or rush you to the geyser if it is already erupting so you won’t have to wait 40 minutes, which is what happened to us. Don’t expect a geyser straight out of Iceland. This one is a really small pond that looks like a backyard grotto.

The last hell is a big red pool of steam with a hill at the back that you can climb. Despite being the last stop, the area felt more serene to me. If you are on the city tour bus, this is where you will be spending around half an hour to take pictures and just chill at the foot bath.

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