Recently, I spent a day in Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Kyushu, and I loved it so much, I had to write about it! Beppu Onsen, as the name suggests, is well known for being one of the largest onsen towns in Japan! The hot spring water of hundreds of public baths is sourced from eight different springs! The eight springs are named Beppu Onsen, Kannawa Onsen, Myoban Onsen, Kankaiji Onsen, Hamawaki Onsen, Kamegawa Onsen, Horita Onsen & Shibaseki Onsen and offer a wide range of baths including sand baths, steam baths, and mud baths! There is also beautiful natural scenery to take in around the city, exquisite regional cuisine to try and some interesting sightseeing places to visit! When you first arrive in Beppu, there is a wonderful and informative visitor information centre right out front of the station (you can’t miss it!), where you receive friendly advice about what to do and how to get around the city. But let me give you a few tips on what I did during my day in Beppu!
My first stop in Beppu was to take the Beppu Ropeway up Mt. Tsurumi. Mt. Tsurumi is an active volcano and the source of Beppu Hot Spring. From the top of the Ropeway, you can get a stunning view of the Beppu region, Mt. Yufu, the Kuju Mountains, and even Shikoku across the ocean! You can take a short hike of around 40 minutes at the top of the mountain to visit the small shrines that are there. The view is particularly beautiful up here during spring and autumn due to cherry blossoms and autumn leaves!
Beppu is home to seven “Jigoku”, or “hells”, which are unique hot springs for viewing, not bathing! While somewhat “touristy”, I enjoyed checking out the Hells of Beppu as they are certainly an interesting sight to behold! Probably my favorite out of the seven was the Kamado Jigoku, or “cooking pot hell”, as they have a demon cook as their mascot and put on performances in multiple languages throughout the day; they make it fun!! They steam eggs and pudding over the hot spring waters and these were delicious! Another notable Jigoku is the Umi Jigoku “sea hell”, which is a pretty blue boiling pond with some smaller orange ones, and the Oniishibozu Jigoku “shaven head hell”, bubbling mud baths named after the bubbles that represent shaven heads of monks! An easy way to get around to all 7 hells is to take a bus that takes you around to all of them!
There is an impressive variety of local cuisine in Oita prefecture, and Beppu is certainly famous for Jigokumushi which I’ve just mentioned, but I would recommend trying the following dishes as well! I’m sure you’ve heard of tempura, it’s usually a staple at Japanese restaurants globally; Oita is well known for its Toriten. Toriten is chicken tempura: chicken seasoned with sake, garlic powder and ginger and fried in the tempura style. Served with a salad, side of rice and citrus and soy-based dipping sauce, it makes for a delicious meal! Another local specialty is Beppu Reimen (cold) and Onmen (hot): a delectable noodle dish made from buckwheat flour noodles (soba) and a clear broth topped with slices of beef, Korean-style kimchi, soft boiled egg, spring onions, and sesame seeds.
There are many different hotels to choose from in Beppu, so my main criteria were an ocean view and an outdoor onsen. Oedo Onsen Monogatari fulfilled both of these criteria, plus many more, and has all the trimmings of a classic Japanese Ryokan Onsen Resort! Upon arrival, you can select from one of the many patterned yukata to wear around the property; it’s common to wear these traditional “sleepwear” (for lack of a better translation) to all of the facilities in the Ryokan. Speaking of the facilities, they’re wonderful! Equipped with private karaoke rooms, a manga (comic book) corner, a game arcade, souvenir shop and on-site onsen, there’s something for everyone! The property is in a wonderful location – only a 10 minute walk from Beppu JR Station and it’s located on the oceanfront. Many of the rooms have wonderful ocean views! As for food, there’s a buffet restaurant serving a range of yummy cuisine and you will have breakfast and dinner included in your room rate. The hot springs are pretty amazing here too: Beppu Onsen is one of the largest hot spring towns in Japan, so you need a Ryokan to live up to the hype! At Oedo Onsen Monogatari, you can’t beat the rooftop onsen with an ocean-view at sunrise or sunset!
I highly recommend adding Beppu to your Japan itinerary if you will be heading to the Kyushu area! To add Beppu to your Japan trip today, please don’t hesitate to contact us at JTB or your local Travel Agent and we can assist with any of the above arrangements!
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