Onsen Hells

Hot Springs in Beppu

Beppu's most-hyped attraction is the jigoku meguri (hell circuit; groups of boiling hot springs), where waters bubble forth from below the ground with unusual results. The circuit's eight stops have become mini amusement parks, each with a theme and some loaded with tourist kitsch; consider yourself warned. The hells are in two groups: six at Kannawa, over 4km northwest of Beppu Station, and two about 2.5km further north. Note: the combination ticket does not include Kannawa's Yama Jigoku.

In the Kannawa group are steaming blue Umi Jigoku; Oniishibōzu Jigoku, where the bubbling mud looks like a monk's shaved head; Shira-ike Jigoku; and Kamado Jigoku, so named because it was once used for cooking (kamado means stove in Japanese). At Oni-yama Jigoku and Yama Jigoku, a variety of animals are kept in enclosures that look uncomfortably small. To get here, take a bus from Beppu Station to Umi-Jigoku-mae (¥330).

The smaller group of hells has Chi-no-ike Jigoku, named for the blood (chi) red of its photogenic water, and Tatsumaki Jigoku, where a geyser shoots off about every 35 minutes.