Beppu- Onsen city
Trip Start Mar 15, 2008
30Trip End Oct 02, 2009
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Where I stayed
Spa Hostel Khaosan Beppu
Beppu.... strange name absolutely wonderful place! We spent 3 nights here and stayed in a lovely hostel called Spa Hostel Khaosan Beppu. Our room was a Japanese stye with tatami mats and a natural hot spring water shower. The hostel also had an onsite Onsen (a Japanese public bath that is really popular and very relaxing).
Basically Beppu is like the relaxing seaside town you holiday in when you need some time to unwind. Except they also proclaim that one of the star attractions of the place (aside from the abundance of Onsens) is visiting Hell well Hells to be exact because they don't have just one but about a dozen and you can buy a combined ticket to visit the 8 main ones for just A$20.
Okay, okay so let me explain....Beppu is situated on an area of high volcanic activity and therefore has numerous natural hot springs (think Rotorua in New Zealand) there is steam coming up out of the roads and footpaths and the naturally occurring heat is used by the local residents for warming their homes, cooking food and they have the largest hot water system you can think of flowing right under their house
The 'Hells' is what they call some of the pools of extremely hot springs that sit bubbling away at around 100oC. Some of them are mud pools and some are hot water and sulphur. All however have been themed and commercialised to cash in on the tourist dollar. They have the Mud Hell (bubbling mud), Demon Hell (has a statue of a demon), Sea Hell (the water has been dyed blue), Blood Hell (it sits in an area of clay and creates a red looking effect on the water) and my favourite the Waterfall Hell which shoots water 5m into the air for 5 mins every 25 mins almost to the second. We wandered around quite a few of these, some which unfortunately have some pretty miserable animals housed in the area for added theme value. These included an elephant, flamingos, hippo, crocodiles, fish and peacocks.
It was an interesting first afternoon spent wandering around checking them all out. We also went for a wander along the beach and to one of the big shopping centres called 'You Me'. We had a great dinner in the food court where we found a cheap sushi place that was delicious and we discovered the wonderfulness of fried chicken meat in Japan. I'm not sure what flavouring they put on it but it was delicious!
Our second day in Beppu we decided to try an Onsen after trudging around town for about 1.5 hours trying to find one that was open (they had an Onsen festival the weekend before and it seems many had closed the time we were there!)
Anyway we eventually went to one of the most popular ones in town that had separate male and female rooms
A quick run down for those that don't know is that onsens are a communal bathing experience not like heading down to the local pool. Bathers or anything other than a small bathing cloth (about the size of a facewasher) is all that's allowed into the room with you. There is a change room you go through to leave all your belongings in a basket or locker. You go in naked, there are other naked people there (usually old Japanese ladies in my experience). You then proceed to sit on a small stool and use a small bucket, soap and a shower nozzle to completely scrub yourself clean once you are clean and all the soap is washed off you sit in the bath and relax for as long as you want. Some people repeat this process of washing and soaking a few times other people just the once. You then hop out and head back to the change room to dry off and are then lead to a resting room where you can sit or lay down to finish the relaxation process. All in all an interesting experience and quite enjoyable!
We then headed off to grab dinner (we had the most delicious tempura) and made our way to Beppu Park where they were having a beautiful candle and light extravaganza.. They must have lit thousands of tea light candles that were in paper lanterns of different colours. There were also bamboo structures with fairy lights and spotlights and a lit up bamboo forest. All together it created a beautiful effect.
We were a bit sad to head off from Beppu the following day but very excited to be heading to Hiroshima!