Tiny Beppu, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. Nestled between Beppu Bay and a range of volcanic mountains, it’s home to more than 3,000 hot springs (onsen).
Beppu’s eight springs, which are dotted around the city, produce more hot spring water than any other resort in the country. Each has its own mineral content and is reputed to alleviate a specific assortment of ailments. In turn, the countless traditional Japanese bath houses offer a wide selection of bath varieties, including ordinary hot water baths, mud baths, sand baths, and steam baths.
After you’ve relaxed and rejuvenated, it’s time to explore the eight Hells of Beppu. In spite of their name, these dramatic hot springs are designated places of scenic beauty and range in color from white and brown, to bright red and blue. Each spring also has an equally colorful name: Ocean’s Hell is a lovely shade of aquamarine; White Pond Hell has steaming, milky-colored waters, and Blood Pond Hell is a bubbling cauldron of crimson. All of these natural wonders are simply a result of being on top of one of the world’s most active geothermic regions.
Beppu also adds a new twist to Hell’s Kitchen – their very own Hell Steam Cuisine. The steam that can be seen rising from the ground throughout the city has been harnessed by the locals for centuries to cook their food. This simple and healthy culinary technique is said to bring out the true flavor of the food.
For a different perspective of the city, take the Beppu Ropeway up the steep slopes of Mount Tsurumi, nearly 2,620 feet above the city, for dramatic panoramic views of Beppu Bay and Mount Yufu, and as far as the Kuju Mountains.
Visit the magical Umitamago aquarium, which is set inside a unique structure and boasts mesmerizing shows and displays that are more reminiscent of an art museum than an aquarium. Across the street at the Takasakiyama Monkey Park, you can watch an exuberant hub of activity as they feed the 1,500 wild Japanese macaques that live around the base of Mount Takasaki.