[ Dec.2019 ] What you must do in Beppu in Oita prefecture in Japan are having a bath in the hot spring water and visiting Hell.
Hell or Jigoku in Japanese in Beppu means the places where hot springs well up.
According to the leaflet whose title is “Welcome to Hell”, even more than a thousand years ago the Jigoku region was described as home to fuming gas expulsions, bubbling mud, and steaming hot water in the Bungo Topography.
It was a place that people feared to approach as an accursed land and that is why they call these places ‘Jigoku (hell)’.
There is an organisation called “The Beppu Jigoku Association” and they control 7 Jigokus and we visited these 7 in order.
Fortunately 5 out of 7 were in Kannawa Onsen area where we stayed, so we could visit them on foot.
The first was “Umi Jigoku”.
At the ticket office there we bought the combination tickets which allowed us to visit all 7 Jigokus for 2000 yen (£14.5, €17, $19).
At “Umi Jigoku”, we saw a blue pond with the steam.
Umi means ‘sea’ in Japanese and the colour was like sea.
Apparently, this was created when Mt. Tsurumi erupted about 1200 years ago.
The colour suggests cool water, but in fact it is as hot as 98 degree centigrade.
This was the most beautiful Jigoku among the 7.
The next one was called “Oniishi Bouzu Jigoku” and this was really like a hell I imagine.
The grey mud was boiling, making bubbles and bursting them.
The name of this Jigoku is coming from the round bubbles which look like shaved heads (Bouzu).
Oniishi is the name of the place.
It was an intimidating place where I would never want to fall in by mistake.
At the third Jigoku, the staff was blowing the cigarette smoke to the hot spring, so that people could see the cloud of steam rose from the water.
This one was called “Kamado Jigoku”.
This demonstration was done in Korean and in Chinese, too and each group of people from those countries were crying out with wonder.
The next one was a crocodile zoo and the name was “Oniyama Jigoku”.
It was like the one which I had seen in Atagawa in Shizuoka Prefecture long time ago and there were so many crocodiles in the water.
Apparently, this was the first place in Japan which started breeding crocodiles using the warmth of hot spring water in 1923 and now they have about 70 of them.
I do not know why they are breeding crocodiles, though.
The fifth Jigoku was called “Shiraike Jigoku”and we were expecting to see a white hot spring pond, but in fact it was not that white but pale green.
They keep variety of tropical fish using the warmth of hot spring water, but they were not so spectacular and this was the least interesting Jigoku among the 7.
These 5 Jigokus were in Kannawa Onsen area.
In fact, there was another one called “Yama Jigoku” and apparently they keep Capybaras for some reason, but because this was not included in the ticket we bought, we did not go in.
At the bottom of our tickets, there was a note saying “You can visit other Jigoku as you like, but you need to pay extra for that”.
I felt some kind of dispute between the Beppu Jigoku Association and the Yama Jigoku.