Hot Springs in Beppu

Beppu's most hyped attraction is the jigoku meguri (hell circuit), where waters bubble forth from underground with unusual results. Unlike Unzen, where the geothermal wonders are unadorned, the circuit's eight stops have become mini amusement parks, each with a theme and some loaded with tourist kitsch; consider yourself warned. Note: the combo ticket no longer includes Mountain Hell (Yama Jigoku).

The hells are in two groups, six at Kannawa, over 4km northwest of Beppu Station, and two about 2.5km further north. In the Kannawa group are steaming blue Umi Jigoku; Oniishibōzu Jigoku, where bubbling mud looks like a monk's shaved head; Shira-ike Jigoku; and Kamado Jigoku, named because it was once used for cooking. At Oni-yama Jigoku and Yama Jigoku, a variety of animals are kept in enclosures that look uncomfortably small. Take a bus from Beppu Station to Umi-Jigoku-mae (¥330) to start.

The smaller group of hells has Chi-no-ike Jigoku, with its photogenic red water, and Tatsumaki Jigoku, where a geyser shoots off about every 35 minutes.