Touring the ponds of hell

The second day of my trip to Beppu was spent on the 地獄巡り, literally touring the hells. What they call hells are 8 remarkable hotsprings around the city, spouting 99°C water and throwing huge plumes of steam in the air.

Some of them have cobalt blue water, another called 血の池地獄 is as red as a pool of blood, the one in the photo below is called 鬼石坊主地獄 for the bubble of boiling mud that resemble the shaved heads of earth demons.

oni ishi bouzu jigoku

There’s also a geyser that spouts for 6 minutes every 20 minutes. They built a sort of mini-amphitheater around it so tourist can sit and wait for it to spurt out. Typically japanese…

me in front of the geyser

With all this steam everywhere, the area around the spring in noticeably hotter and more humid than the rest of the city. In this micro-climate, they planted tropical plants all around and brought in tropical animals: there is a zoo with an elephant and a hippo bathing in hotspring water, they even breed crocodiles, caymans and alligators in one of the “Hells”.

enjoying the sound of the waves

After a very sweaty visit, we went back to the hotel and I had to take one last dip in the hotel’s public bath. It was empty so I could take some photos of the place. Then we grabbed our bags and headed back home with the 新幹線.

Hotel Seikai in Beppu

I came back yesterday afternoon from Hiroshima, barely escaping the closing of the airport for cause of typhoon closing in. The trip was short, but well-packed with fun and relaxation. I will split the story of the trip in several post to keep the not so photo intensive, and I’ll start with the hotel.

As I said previously, we arrived in Beppu in the afternoon for just one night and we spent this first half-day recovering from our long-long trip. We ended up with the square bath room in the end, but everything was just as perfect as in the brochure, I was thrilled.

our bath with the  sea view

After soaking up good and taking a little nap, we headed for the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. In a Japanese 旅館, the room always come with a special Japanese style dinner that is usually the highlight of your stay (at least for the locals, I’ve kept my european habits and put more importance in the quality of the room).

the menu was tooooo long

The dinner was excellent, with more courses than I could count. It kept on coming and coming: seaweeds, sashimi, japanese beef, monstrous shellfish, 唐揚げ, etc… We had to stop the guy at one point, we were stuffed. After a good glass of a fine local 日本酒, we headed to the hotel’s bar to take our dessert facing the beach with a couple glasses of 梅酒 and Whiskey.

The next day, we had requested our breakfast at 8:30 (the checkout was at 10AM) but never woke. The reception started calling around 8:45 and we ignored them, then some guy came around 9AM to hit relentlessly on the door until I finally opened.

Hotel guy: Your breakfast is waiting.
Me: I know, were not hungry.
*slams the door back shut*

I hate when people can’t take a hint… Anyways, apart for the breakfast obsessed reception guy, Hotel Seikai in Beppu gets my seal of approval and I recommend it to you if you’re ever in the vicinity.

Short Kyushu escapade

Still jetlagged from the US, I’m already back on a plane: I just bought my tickets to Hiroshima for next week. My girlfriend has 2 days off Wednesday and Thursday so I’m taking the opportunity for a little R&R.

And since I’ve pretty much seen all there is to see around 広島, we decided to head down to 九州 for a night in an Onsen in Beppu. Just look at the map and see why this is going to be interesting…

map of my trip - will take around 6 hours

Yep, all of that traveling for one night there. Next day we’ll head back to Hiroshima see the family and on the 3rd day I’ll be heading back to Tokyo. Long distance relationships… しょうがない!

very very nice onsen hotel

At least, for all our trouble, we booked a really nice hotel with a really nice room. Check out the website, we’re getting the F-type room, hopefully with the round bathtub. 別府 is renowned as the 温泉 town, with the largest number of hotsprings in Japan and the second largest volume of hot water (behind Yellowstone, thank you Wikipedia).

I didn’t want to renew last year’s fiasco in Kinugawa so we decided to forget the budget this time. Be on the look out for some great photos next week.