Beppu 別府: Sea and blood pond hells

By Cubie - July 03, 2019

Beppu 別府 is another of Japan's most famous hot spring resort. After Kurokawa Onsen and Yufuin, I didn't stay a night in Beppu but made a stop to visit the some hot springs, the ones for viewing rather than bathing - Hells of Beppu.

Getting to Beppu from Yufuin via Yufuin no Mori (ゆふいんの森)
Yufuin no Mori is a themed JR Limited Express train travelling from Hakata to Yufuin which is only on reserved seats. This "Forest of Yufuin" runs 2 round trips a day between Hakata to Yufuin and once a day from Hakata to Beppu.

Yufuin no Mori are not the only train that runs between these stations, so if Yufuin no Mori is out of service, Yufu operates on the same schedule. If there is a specific seat that you want to get on Yufuin no Mori (example, the first seat on the first car), there is an option to reserve the seat online but this comes with a booking fee of ¥1,000 even if you hold a JR pass. I didn't want to pay the additional fee as this train is covered by JR pass so I only made my seat reservation when I arrived in Nagasaki. I took Yufuin no Mori 3 from Yufuin to Beppu; 12:39 - 13:36.

I mentioned in the previous post that I missed getting B-speak's swiss roll when I was in Yufuin, however, I found it again on board Yufuin no Mori. Of course I bought it to try and a bottle of cider. Swiss roll at ¥500 and cider ¥260. I prefer the taste of the swiss roll I got from Kurokawa Onsen, this one tasted a little more egg-y. I guess each to their own.

Hells of Beppu
The hells or jigoku of Beppu are a collection of seven hot springs for viewing. Five of them are located in the Kannawa district and the other two in Shibaseki. One can opt to do a "Jigoku Meguri" or "Hell Tour" by visiting all 7 hells for ¥2,000 (though some website stated ¥2,100). I only went to 2 (Umi Jigoku and Chinoike Jigoku) and bought individual tickets for entry at ¥400 each.

Getting to Hells of Beppu
I arrived at Beppu station, dropped my bag in a small size locker, ¥400 and went to Beppu's tourist information center.

There are 2 tourist information centers in Beppu train station, one for Japanese speaking and the other for non-Japanese speaking. They are opposite of one another. Obviously I went to the non-Japanese speaking tourist info and the lady whom I spoke to was super helpful.

I told her I wanted to visit Umi Jigoku and Chinoike Jigoku before catching a shinkansen later in the evening to Fukuoka. She checked the timing of the buses, let me know which bus to take and latest time to catch the buses. I also bought a bus pass from her and she scratched the date for me as well.

The bus pass is called MyBeppuFree 1 day mini free passport and cost ¥900. It comes as a side folded pass.

Outside of Beppu pass

Inside of Beppu pass
At the time of my visit, the fastest bus to get to Umi Jigoku was bus #41 from bus stop 3 at 13:55. This was different from recommendation of most website which mentioned that bus 5, 7 and 9 are the fastest. So I think it's worth to drop by the tourist info for a chat!

Summary of some attractions via bus. This is from Beppu tourist info!
Here's the breakdown of the bus trip I took, including single trip bus fare.
Beppu station - Umi Jigoku (bus #41): 13:55 - 14:13, ¥330
Umi Jigoku - Chinoike Jigoku (bus #16): 14:58 - 15:04, ¥190
Chinoike Jigoku - Beppu station (bus #16): 16:25 - 16:57, ¥390

As you can see above, Umi Jigoku and Chinoike Jigoku are not at the same location but reachable by bus. It so happened that I wanted to visit one that is in Kannawa District and one in Shibaseki District.

Kannawa District
Umi Jigoku 海地獄 - cobalt blue "sea hell" of 98°C that was created 1,200 years ago following the eruption of Mt. Tsurumi.

The area where Umi Jigoku is located isn't just confined to the hot spring. There are also a greenhouse, restaurant, foot bath and a shrine. There is also a smaller red Jigoku (Akaike Jigoku) in the same area.

As you can see, the cobalt blue shade of Umi Jigoku is beautiful. It does look that colour! Next to the hot spring is an observation deck to enjoy the view of the spring.

This is Akaike Jigoku. The colour isn't really red. My first thought of the colour was "rusty" or mud like, obviously am not creative if I am to name the pond.

I didn't visit the remaining jigoku in the area though, so I can't don't know if they are as beautiful.

Oniishibozu Jigoku 鬼石防地獄 - A mud bubbles and the boiling mud pools said to resembled shaven heads of the monks.

Kamado Jigoku かまど地獄 - This hell's name origin stemmed from ancient times of using fumes of hot springs to cook offerings of rice to the guardian god at the Kamado Hachimangu Shrine Festival. The spring is at 90°C.

Oniyama Jigoku 鬼山地獄 - This "monster mountain hell" is named after Oniyama district which is also known by its moniker Wani-Jigoku ("crocodile hell"). The crocodiles were first bred here in 1923 and spa temperature is at 98°C.

Shiraike Jigoku 白池地獄 - When the natural water from the ground combines with the pond water, it turned to a bluish white shade following temperature and pressure drop. This sodium chloride hot spring containing boric acid is at 95°C.

Shibaseki District
Chinoike Jigoku 血の池地獄 - This is one of Japan's oldest natural jigoku known as "Akayusen" due to hot clay resulting to red-coloured steam. The spa temperature is at 78°C. The name of this hot spring is translated as "blood pond hell" due to its hot and red water.

Similar to Akaike Jigoku, this reminded me of "rusty" or mud colour. Nothing like the colour on the entrance ticket, which is also a postcard.

Chinoike Jigoku is at a smaller area compared to Umi Jigoku and there isn't any observation deck but there is a pathway that leads to a higher area so one can also view chinoike from atop.

I picked up a "blood pond" pudding from Chinoike Jigoku, to which my sister blatantly commented it's basically coloured pudding... which is completely true.

Tatsumaki Jigoku 龍巻地獄 - This "spout hell" features a boiling hot geyser. The interval between each spouts are short, around 30-40 minutes. 

After that I returned to Beppu station, collected my backpack and got on to the platform to wait for Sonic 48 which interestingly was late. My seat reservation was for Sonic 48, scheduled at 17:18. Unfortunately the shinkansen before Sonic 48 was still at the platform passed 17:18.

I met a mother and daughter waiting at the same platform. Her daughter ran down to ask someone at the office and when she came back, she told her mother to get on the train. I approached them to ask and was told that Sonic 48 was delayed but no indication as to how long to wait before it would arrived at Beppu station. I decided to also get on the train as well. They very kindly found me a seat on a non reserved seat car before they were seated themselves.

Side note: There's a sand bath in Beppu which I contemplated to drop by but obviously didn't have enough time and also decided I would wait till I made my way to Ibusuki.

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  1. Between Kurokawa, Yufuin and Beppu, how would you rank the three in terms of overall worthiness for sightseeing / hotspring soaking?

  2. I didn't overnight in Beppu so had no experience in hotspring soaking but I would rate Kurokawa > Yufuin for hotspring soaking.
    In terms of sightseeing, Kurokawa and Yufuin's offering are similarish but Yufuin at a bigger scale but also means more people.
    Kurokawa is a smaller place compared to Yufuin and Beppu but I like that better.