Hell exists, and it’s located in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, Japan. But it’s actually not all that bad of a place. In fact, it’s pretty cool, and definitely worth a visit.
The Jigoku Meguri (Hell Tour) in Beppu is a tour of eight different natural hot springs, each with a different moniker and special characteristics. They’re too hot to actually take a bath in, though many of the hells have ashiyu (foot baths) where you can sit and at least soak your feet.
We took a bus from Beppu Station which got us to the main cluster of hells in about half an hour for ¥330. Six of the eight hells are clustered together within easy walking distance. There’s an order on the maps and the pamphlets, but really you can go in whichever order you please. We started at number two on the map, Oniishibouzu Jigoku, where we bought the booklet of tickets for all eight hells for ¥2100. You can buy the tickets separately too, but they cost ¥400 each if you do that.
The Eight Hells of Beppu
This hell’s hot springs are boiling mud pits whose bubbles look like the shaven heads of monks.
The bright blue waters in this hellpool are why it was named: umi is Japanese for sea/ocean.
There’s a huge mountain (yama) of mud built up in this hell due to the hot springs.
But more importantly, there’s a tiny zoo in this hell that seems to be more of an attraction than the hell itself. There were an odd assortment of animals there, including a hippo:
some adorable capybaras:
and even bunnies:
It’s a kid-friendly sort of hell, I guess.
The waters of this hell used to be used for cooking.
You can actually get all sorts of “hell-steamed” foods here, ranging from meat buns to pudding to boiled eggs, all cooked fresh in the hot springs.
This is the most powerful hell. The water was all but exploding out from the banks into the pool; the pamphlet says that the force of the hot spring’s steam can pull one and a half train cars.
Oh, and if that weren’t cool enough, apparently these hot springs make ideal conditions for breeding crocodiles.
This is supposed to be a creamy white hell, but because of the cloudy weather (a leftover from the recent typhoon), the waters were a vivid green instead.
The last two hells, Chinoike and Tatsumaki, are about 3 kilometers away from the other six, but they’re easily accessible via a short bus ride from the bus stop at the bottom of the hill past Shiraike.
This hell is the most hellish of them all, since it’s named for the blood-red water.
This hell operates on a schedule: approximately every half hour or so, it gushes skyward for six to ten minutes. We were lucky enough to catch the tail end of it’s last performance within business hours–the hells all close at 5 PM.
Which hell would you wanna go to the most?