Beppu: 9 Hot Springs from Hell!
When I was passing through Fukuoka, I decided to go to Bappu (別府) in Oita Prefecture (大分県).
How to get to Bappu?
If you’re in Tokyo, the fastest option is a plane that flies to Oita Airport (大分空港). I, on the other hand, was in Fukuoka (福岡) and so I used the local trains.
There are many different ways to get there, but the best way is the Sonic train (the blue one) going to Oita (大分) station.
From Hakata station (Fukuoka) it goes to Kogura station (小倉) and then, without changing seats, you flip the seats the other way and the train goes on to Bappu station (別府).
The cost one way will be about 4,000 ¥.
And then drive to Bappu Hell Ponds 9
When you get to Bappu station, change to a single-car train and go two stations back to Kameda station (亀田).
From there, take a bus to the first destination, Hell’s Bloody Pond (血の池地獄), but more on that later.
When there was an issue about Kagawa, I talked about how the residents of Kagawa Prefecture refer to their prefecture as Udon-Ken (うどん県), while the residents of Oita Prefecture refer to their prefecture as Onsen-Ken (おんせん県). Actually, the name makes it clear that Oita Prefecture has the most hot springs in all of Japan. According to statistics, there are 4,471 onsen here.
In order to understand how much or little this is for Japan, we will take the second most hot springs in Kagoshima Prefecture. Kagoshima Prefecture has only 2,785 onsen. And it is Bappu that is the most important place to visit hot springs, because there is a large concentration of onsen. There are about 2,300 of them here.
The most famous area of Bappu is the nine hot springs, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Almost all of the water in Bappu is comparable in quality to artesian water.
Map: nine infernal hot springs of Bappu
I made a detailed interactive map of Bappu ponds (in Russian), and I will describe each place in more detail below.
What is Jigoku Meguri 地獄めぐり?
Jigoku Meguri (地獄めぐり) is a small route with all the main unusual hot springs of Bappu, which are called “Adami”.
The word Jigoku (地獄) that is put at the end of the word of these ponds translates to “Hell”, because unlike normal onsen, i.e. hot springs, you cannot bathe in them, you would rather be boiled alive there + the water boils, bubbles and creates steam. Hence the name.
It seems to me that in ancient times, people feared such places because in those days there was simply no science to explain such anomalies. Compare that to the picture of the punishment of sinners? Now look at the bloody pond at Bappu.
The cost of the 7 ponds is 2,000 ¥, it is better to take a voucher for all 7 ponds at once, it will be cheaper. For the rest of the hell ponds voucher does not apply, so you have to buy tickets separately, or just skip.
Well, I’ll tell you about all the places in more detail and I’ll start with the bloody Hell Pond Bappu !
Bloody Hell Pond at Bappu
Among the 9 hot springs, the most famous is the Bloody Hell Pond (血の池地獄 Ti No Ike Jigoku).
The enormous amount of iron-containing minerals at the bottom of the pond gives it a bright red color – hence the name.
The bloody inferno pond is more than 30 meters deep, the temperature reaches 78 degrees Celsius and you can easily be boiled alive in it, so there are fences and warning signs everywhere.
This pond is one of the oldest and has existed for over 1,300 years. Thousands of years ago, locals avoided it, fearing its “infernal” properties, calling it “hell”, because the pond is very hot and emits a huge amount of steam + terrible “blood” color!
But afterwards, thanks to this pond, people began to create various medicines for the skin, as well as, learned to paint houses with its red clay. Since such a unique phenomenon is found almost nowhere else in the world, the pond was recognized by the Japanese government as one of the most important places.
By the way, each Jigoku has its own souvenir shop with items unique, for this or that pond. Here, for example, you can see such a worm’s head.
Next, I walked to the nearby hot spring, Tatsumaki Jigoku.
Hell’s Tornado (Tatsumaki Jigoku)
This place is called the Infernal Tornado (龍巻地獄), i.e. Tatsumaki Jigoku, for a reason. It is one of the largest geysers in Japan. Every 30 minutes it hits 105 degree boiling water for 40 or even 50 meters. And the water under the ground is even hotter – about +150C.
Not far from the geyser there is a souvenir shop with geyser drinks, ice cream, etc.
And then I went to the bus, as it was impossible to walk to the next site. .
While riding the bus, my ears were constantly getting stuffy as it’s very mountainous terrain and there are strong pressure drops, a side note to those who might have a problem with that.
White Hell Pond (Shiraike Jigoku)
The water in it is more like boiling milk because of the large amount of calcium in it. The temperature is about +95C.
The white pond is surrounded by a beautiful garden, which you can walk around in a circle.
Afterwards, I headed to the next place!
Devil’s Monster Hell (Oniyama Jigoku)
Devil’s Monster Hell (鬼山地獄) also has another name, Crocodile Hell (ワニ地獄), as there are literally tons of crocodiles of different sizes and species living right next door.
The temperature of the pond itself is about +99C, which absolutely does not embarrass the hundred crocodiles that are in the neighborhood. Naturally, they are not swimming in a 99 degree pond, but the water next door, they say, is also quite hot.
Crocodiles have been bred here since 1912, and you can find the effigy of the very first crocodile named “Ichiro” in the pavilion next door. He lived there the longest, 71 years, and was the biggest crocodile on the farm.
I even caught them feeding! It’s both creepy and fascinating. But keep in mind that you can only see the feeding on weekends.
Also, the pavilion has aquariums with baby crocodiles that look a lot like their dinosaur ancestors, only in miniature.
Hell’s Cauldron (Kamado Jigoku)
In my opinion, one of the most beautiful and underrated places in Bappu is Hell’s Cauldron (竈地獄).
It is a group of several hot springs with boiling blue water. The water here also, reaches +90C. I’ve never seen bluer water than this in my life.
It feels like it was painted with paint, that is so unnatural, but it looks very beautiful and spectacular.
Also, it is noteworthy that there is a statue of a “chef-devil”, as you can try steamed dishes from this spring.
Also, there is a very similar blood red pond here, only slightly smaller and less spectacular. The water here reaches +95C.
Afterwards, I headed over to the pond. “Monk’s Head O_O.
Monk’s Head Pond.
Monk’s Head Pond (Bo:zu Jigoku), or as Oniishi Bo:zu Jigoku is now called, is a mud inferno.
This name comes from the grayish bubbling clay and air bubbles that form on the surface. The temperature of this clay is +99C.
Sea Inferno (Umi Jigoku)
Sea Inferno (海地獄) was the last point of my itinerary, the farthest pond. It is one of the most beautiful 9 inferno ponds, however, I liked the “inferno cauldron” pond (kamado jigoku 竈地獄) better.
The water in it has a bright cobalt and azure hue, the result of the eruption of the Tsurumi volcano 300 years ago. The water is comparable to the sea, but only in color, which is why this pond was named 海地獄 (Umi Jigoku) – “Sea Hell”.
A small lake 120 meters deep with water temperature of 90-98ºC is formed at the site of the spring.
This water is cooled and used for Ashi-yu (足湯), which is when only one’s feet are dipped into the water from the hot spring. Also, Asi-Yu can be visited by people with disabilities, as it has all the necessary equipment.
About 360,000 liters of hot water containing approximately 1.26 tons of salts are pumped out of the pond. Every day, the water is sent through wooden pipes to hotels and homes where it is used for hot baths.
Lilies and other exotic plants grow at the entrance. The water from the spring approaches the pond through pipes, so that it maintains a constant temperature suitable for the growth of tropical plants.
Also, you can buy bath bombs there so that you can have the same color water in your bathtub as in Umi Jigoku.
And near the greenhouse, near the Sea Hell (Umi Jigoku), you can find a mini blood pond.
Here we have passed 7 Hell Ponds, there are 2 more to go, but these very 2 remaining ponds are worth separate money and, in my opinion, are worth visiting last if you have seen such ponds as the bloody Hell Pond, Hell Cauldron, etc.
That’s it, we passed all the mandatory Jigoku (what’s included in the voucher). Now, about the places you can go, but only optionally, if that’s not enough (although you’ll be wandering around from opening to closing all the time).
Hell Mountain (Jigoku Yama)
Hell Mountain (山地獄) is a mud volcano, from the bowels of which gray mud erupts and solidifies afterwards. Also, there is a mini zoo with large animals (hippos, etc.), but the infernal mountain, is not included in the ticket price, which covers all entrance tickets to the zigoku meguri, so you will have to pay for admission separately.
BUT. I don’t recommend spending more money to get in here if you don’t have extra money, because there’s nothing special there.
The Golden Dragon (Kinryu Jigoku).
It’s simple. The dragon statue installed here emits three water jets in the morning hours, but otherwise just releases hot underground vapors. Again, admission is for a fee.
Also, in Bappu, as in all of Japan, people have taken a humorous approach and you can often see signs that read: “Watch out! If you fall in the pond, you’ll boil!” I don’t know, maybe there wasn’t anything funny here, but to me such a warning is obvious, since it makes the steam go off like that. But that’s what it says in English, in Japanese it just says not to go over the restraints.
Hot springs are also used for cooking. The steam from the high-temperature hot springs is used to boil eggs and make puddings, which are very popular.
Evaluation of Bappu and Jigoku Meguri Hot Springs
It’s one of the best places in Japan and I definitely recommend visiting this place because it’s unique, you won’t see it anywhere else in the world.
The only disadvantage of Bappu, and that is natural, is the constant sharp drops in altitude, which causes a little headache and congestion in the ears.
Blood Pond in Beppu is a famous tourist attraction in Japan. When traveling in the Land of the Rising Sun, tourists peek into this corner with curiosity and apprehension. The unusual pond beckons and frightens at the same time.
The reservoir of red water resulted from the activity of a geyser located in close proximity to the pond, in an underwater cave. Gradually, the cavity fills with water. The magma, which lies nearby, brings the liquid to a boil. The boiling, pressurized water flows into the Red Pond.
Emissions occur at 35-40 minute intervals. Admiration mixed with horror is how tourists describe their feelings, who, despite the eerie sight of boiling water, willingly visit the Bloody Bubbling Pond.
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