What's Hell? The Abundant Hot Springs in Beppu Meant Only to be Seen

Throw away all your preconceptions of what "hell" is! In Japan, hell can either refer to the "land below" or to hot springs that are so hot, all you can really do is stare at them from a distance. Many of these "hells" are located in Beppu in the Kyushu region. To discover what these hells are, read below and prepare for a sweaty time!


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"The Beppu Jigoku Meguri is the tourist attraction of the countless hells in Beppu, Oita, where you can see the wonderful sight of the natural waters. There are fixed tourist buses and other excusions where can enjoy the Beppu hot springs."
"Umijigoku, Chinoike Jigoku, Shiroike Jigoku, and Tatsumaki Jigoku, were all designated as natural scenic sights on July 23rd, 2009."


Do you know about the hot springs that you can enjoy just by looking at them? Those are called "hell." There are many of these hells in the Beppu area. Here are a few of the different kinds of hell.

Umijigoku (Ocean Hell)

 MKill/Wikimedia Commons

Because of the high iron sulfate content, the hot water is a bright blue.
It was designated as a natural place of scenic beauty in 2009.
While the color looks refreshing, its boiling point is near 98 degrees C (208.4F).
Since there's a footbath that has a roof attached to it, even on ainy days you can enjoy this hot sprint.
In Umijigoku they boil hot spring eggs. Their "hot spring mushiyaki purin," made using only eggs, milk, and sugar, is a specialty.
There's also an establishment where you can enjoy Oita's local cuisine.


Oniishibouzu Jigoku (Stone Demon Monk Hell)

663highland/Wikimedia Commons

As you can see, it's a hell where hot air spits out of those clay holes at the bottom.
Since it looks like the head of a monk, it's called the "Monk Hell."
According to legend, thanks to a major earthquake 500 years ago, a fine shrine sank into the ground and this hell sprouted up over it.
It was mentioned in the book written in 733, "Bungonokuni Fudoki," making it a historical place.
At the Oniishi no Yu hot spring you can make a day trip of it, and there are also restaurants and footbaths.


Yama Jigoku (Mountain Hell)

そらみみ/Wikimedia Commons

This looks like a normal on spring with gas fumes blowing from it.
However, the heat from this hot spring is used to raise flamingos, hippos, and monkeys.
Comparatively, it's a hell with a rather plain image.


Kamado Jigoku (Hearth Hell)

663highland/Wikimedia Commons

At the edge of Beppu, there's a Kamado Hachiman shrine called Uchigamado where they cook sacred rice using the hot spring fumes, and that's how it got its name.
The hell goes from Ichome to Rokuchome, and you can enjoy its distinct colors and water quality.
It has the image of that you are able to go around and enjoy it all at once.


Oniyama Jigoku (Devil Mountain Hell)


While the spring itself is a full of water that's a weak green color, its most important talking point is that it is also called "crocodile hell."
They use the warm water from the hot spring to raise crocodiles and alligators that usually inhabit tropical areas.
They have been raising these animals since 1923, and now it seems the name "crocodile hell" is gaining popularity.
The park is styled with a retro design, and there's an 'Ono Store' where you can buy ice cream as well as potatoes and meat buns steamed in the hell waters.


Shiraike Jigoku (White Lake Hell)

STA3816/WIkimedia Commons

While the hot spring's waters are colorless and transparent, the mist that rises from the water is completely white, and that's how it got its name.
It was designated a national scenic place in 2009.
Since they use the hot water to raise tropical fish, you can see piranhas and arapaimas.
Its surprising point is that it holds the Oita Prefecture's designated cultural property, the Kunisakitou (a stone monument dedicated to the Buddhist sutras), so people who like history can also enjoy it.


Chinoike Jigoku (Lake of Blood Hell)

663highland/Wikimedia Commons

It was designated a national scenic area in 2009.
Since it was also mentioned in the book from 733, the Bungonokuni Fudoki, it comes to mind as a curious scene from ancient times.
They sell a "Chinoiki Ointment" made with the red clay from the hell that is effective in healing skin diseases and cuts.
There's also a restaurant where you can enjoy the local specialities.


Tatsumaki Hell (Tornado Hell)

Valentin Haug/Wikimedia Commons

This is a geyser.
Once every 30 minutes, boiling water spouts into the air.
Since there's no roof, it blows up to 50 meters into the air.
Because the timing is unexpected, you may have to wait for the geyser to blow.
You can buy gelato made from local fruits and wait for the geyser while chatting with your friends.


Hell Tour Bus (2 routes)

 According to the Beppu "Female Bus Guides," you can go around enjoying hells while hearing information told in five-and-seven-syllable meter poems.

While it's good to go to pinpoint the hells, it's not bad to go around in the bus.

[Beppu Hell Tour Course]


[Beppu Hell Tour Course + Alum Course]


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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