Japan Travel Destinations: The Eight Hells of Beppu

In a country bubbling with volcanic activity, you find hot springs everywhere you go. But these hot springs in the Kyushu city of Beppu are not for the faint-hearted Japan travelers. The eight “hells,” as they’ve appropriately been named, are unique, even for Japan — the temperatures of these steaming ponds rise way above comfortable bathing levels, so this isn’t the place to go for silky skin benefits. A visit to these hot springs isn’t for bathing, but for sight-seeing only. It’s still eight hells of a sight that you won’t see anywhere else.

The Eight Hells (地獄 Jigoku) of Beppu:

1. Umi-Jigoku (Sea Hell)
A beautiful blue steaming pond makes for a picturesque site. Don’t miss the greenhouse at this hell where lily pads large enough to hold small children (on top of the water!) are grown.

2. Oniishibozu-Jigoku (Shaven Monk’s Head Hell)
This hell offers numerous puddles of boiling gray mud that bubble up to look like the shaven head of a monk. It’s a unique spectacle.

3. Yama-Jigoku (Mountain Hell)
A cross between a mini-zoo and hot spring, this hell has several animals, including a hippopotamus, an elephant, and some monkeys (among other animals) who supposedly enjoy dwelling around the hot spring. They are caged in confined spaces far from the small, shallow hot spring pools. This is probably one of the least impressive hells.

4. Kamado-Jigoku (Furnace Hell)
A must-see among the eight, this hell offers a variety of different steaming pools that come in blue, grey, and more. The snack bar at this hell offers some interesting local treats.

5. Oniyama-Jigoku (Demon Mountain Hell)
Many crocodiles have found their home at this hell. Enough said.

6. Shiraike-Jigoku (White Pond Hell)
This serene garden houses a beautiful white pond of extremely hot water. It’s picturesque and quiet.

7. Chinoike-Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell)
Though it is difficult to get to, this hell is worth a visit to see its impressive blood-hued pond.

8. Tatsumaki-Jigoku (Geyser Hell)
Neighboring the seventh hell, this geyser is as impressive as old faithful. It consists of a tall fountain of water that now has an arena constructed around it for tourists to sit and watch.

The hells in Beppu are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can get a combined ticket to all the hells for ¥2,000, while each hell separately costs ¥400 to enter. The first six hells are all within walking distance of each other, but you’ll have to get in a car, bus or taxi to see the last two hells. If Kyushu is part of your Japan trip itinerary, this would make a great day-trip.

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