Saturday, 31 January 2015

To Hell and Back (Beppu Part 2)

One week ago, I talked about seeing snow in Beppu even though it's more well-known for its onsens (aka, there's a lot of heat). During the week, I had about 3 tests, and didn't really have time to blog. Now that my excuse is out of the way, on to part two!

In Beppu, one thing that you can do is called 地獄めぐり(jigoku meguri) or "hell tours". Basically, the family and I went around to see really hot pools of water (and mud). To save money, and if you don't have a car, but the one day bus ticket at Beppu station. There are student prices, so if you're studying, make sure you bring your student ID with you. (Oh, and there are English-speaking workers there, so there's nothing to worry about). The bus pass will give you discounts and stuff, so don't lose it!

There are 8 hells, and they are grouped into 6-2. If you only have enough time to go to one area, go to the one with 6 hells. You can buy the all-access ticket and it'll still be worth it.

Tickets, including a stamp-collecting sheet. I got all of them! 
I know my cousin already talked about most of them, but I wanted to share more photos!

First up is Oniishibozu Jigoku, which means shaven monk's head hell. Don't you just love the name? It's called this because the bubbles supposedly look like a monk's head. But uh, we were more interested in the fact that sometimes, these bubbles look like a hidden Mickey (I'm totally showing my age - I remember when these were on TV)




This one, like most of the others, has a foot bath that you can sit in! My siblings and dad, who wore socks, could go in almost immediately. My mom and I were in tights, so we had to go to the toilet to change.

The yellow things are fruit. I think pomelo? Not sure...
I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but we took the bus all the way to the top, getting off at the 海地獄前 (umijigokumae) bus stop, then making our way down to the 鉄輪 (tetsurin) bus stop. It's quite convenient, especially if you want to change bus to get to 血の池地獄前 (chinoike jigokumae) bus stop to see the remaining 2 hells.

Anyway, the second stop was the Umijigoku (aka Sea Hell), which is why the previous paragraph is a directions digression.


They have this little moving Kappa that you try to throw coins at. 

Before you see the actual onsen, there's a giant lake that apparently, has giant lotus leaves that little kids can stand on in the summer. At least, I think the lotus leaves are supposed to be real. They could be fake, and that would make so much more sense.

The actual onsen is a pretty blue, but there's so much steam that it's hard to see the colour.

You can kinda see it here. I guess.

Next to the onsen is a series of torii, so if this sort of thing interests you, you should totally go check it out.


There's also a greenhouse where the plants are nourished with the onsen water. Pretty, but stuffy. I would show pictures, but we're moving on because there are 6 more hells for me to show pictures off.

The third hell we went to was Yamajigoku (mountain hell), which is full of animals. Yup, animals enjoy hot baths too.


Like this hippo, who WOULD NOT TURN AROUND.

Well, we are invading his privacy, so fair enough I guess. 
 And to really hammer in the fact that we're walking around pools of hot water that come from the ground, part of the pavement was closed off because of the steam coming out.


You can even feed the animals. Like the capybaras, rabbits (really, really huge rabbits), and turtles. I think? Wait, was the turtle huge, or was that the rabbit? Or both? Probably both.

The siblings feeding the capybara. 

This flamingo will never suffer from cold feet. 
The fourth hell was Kamado Jigoku, or cooking pot hell. By this time, it was drizzling, so I don't have that many pictures to show you guys.


Since it was raining, we stopped for a bite here. There was the onsen tamago thing that my cousin talked about, and that I wanted to try. So we got that, some buns, and some chicken.

There is salt for the eggs, or yuzu-shoyu.
 GUYS THE EGG IS BROWN.

So not natural. 
And no one liked it. Thankfully, we didn't get one per person, or I'll be eating five eggs at one go. I'm actually ok with it, but I think we established in the first part that I'm weird and willing to sleep in rooms with no attached toilets if it means I stay in a mud onsen (that, spoiler alert, we never got to go to).

Everyone liked the chicken though. It is truly awesome. We ordered a second helping.

the portions are tiny, so the second time, we ordered a few portions. 

The fifth hell was the Oniyama Jigoku, which for some reason had replicas of traditional Malay houses. That was...weird. And not what we wanted to see (I can drive to see the actual ones in Singapore, so....). 


But there was a friendly dude who spoke English, so we ended up buying a lot of snacks. 

Oniyama jigoku is famous for the crocodiles that live there, but the water must be too comfortable, because they were all so sedentary. Then again, I remember having dirty, smelly water being splashed on me by crocodiles at a crocodile farm so... CARRY ON SLEEPING. 


The 6th hell, and the one next to the next bus stop, was Shiraikejigoku, which means white lake hell. It's basically a paler version of Umijigoku. There are some pretty fishes here though.

Not pictured: fish. Those are in tanks near the entrance. 
It's a very serene place though, and a good time for you to catch your breath.


From here to the bus stop, there are bunch of stores selling steamed food (which to be honest, is everywhere). I totally recommend the steamed sweet potato. It is soooooo sweet and really good! I may have finished it before I could take a photo :p 

From the bus stop (where it was raining so boooo), we took a short ride to 血の池地獄前 (chinoike jigokumae) bus stop, where the last two hells are. One tip which I read online was that the 竜巻地獄 (tatsumaki jigoku - spout hell) erupts every half an hour, so when you get off, you should first go check when the next eruption is, then decide which hell to visit first. For us, the timing was such that we went to Chinoike Jigoku, or Bloody Lake of Hell (I love this translation for some reason) first. 

It may have a really cool name, but the water was... orangey. They sell stuff that's supposed to be good for your skin though. 


But, if you're the type that wants bragging rights that come from visiting this, photo editing is your friend. My instagram photo looked so much cooler.

See? So much cooler. 
You'll have to wait for a time where the wind blows the steam away though. I think maybe the reason why there was so much steam was because we went during winter.

The last hell was Tatsumaki Jigoku (aka spout hell), which was underwhelming. It's basically a really regular geyser, but they built walls to contain it, so it looks... weird.


Before anything happens

I honestly thought the wall was a backdrop. Didn't know better until the intercom started giving us information.

The geyser, looking constrained and unimpressive. 
Most of the hells are actually pretty cool. I think, if you don't have enough time, you can probably skip the last two. Here's a pretty sunset photo to end the post.



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