Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beppu's Eight Hell's

Over the weekend we took a trip into Beppu city to take a look at some of its most famous onsens (hot springs). Known as the onsen capital of Japan, Beppu has hundreds of steaming hot spots all over its landscape which people from all over Japan flock to all year round.
Its most famous onsens are known as the Eight Jigoku Hell's and are basically giant multicoloured volcanic pits of boiling water, mud and geyers.
Given the whopping price they were asking to see all eight we opted to just see one of them... and to be honest it was more than enough in this heat.
Known as the 'sea hell' Umi Jigoku is a pool of tourquise water that is 120 metres deep and 9o degrees in temperature. It had a big bamboo pole dangling out in the middle of it on which you can pay to have an egg cooked for you (again super expensive so we skipped this novelty).
There was also the most magnificant green pond that had the biggest water lillies we have ever seen... so big in fact you can actually pay to have your child sit on them! The only disappointment was that there were no frogs jumping from one to the other.
There was also an area where you could take your shoes off and brave the waters of the natural onsen... I opted to watch Nathan and Dave rather than inflict that kind of heat on my already elephant-like ankles. The locals had great fun laughing at them as they inched their way into the hot water up to mid calf level making screeching noises after each step. One Japanese guy in particular thought it was hilarious when they came out sporting red lines on their legs from where the water had scorched them and started calling them 'red socks' in his best English.
After a quick stop at yet another vending machine we then headed to our local Okonomiyaki restaurant for round two of make your own Japanese cabbage pancake... delicious!