The "hells" (地獄, jigoku) of Beppu are seven spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing, displaying steaming ponds of various colors, bubbling mud pools and other hydrothermal activity.
The hells are presented to visitors in a rather touristy fashion which may not appeal to everybody.
Five of the seven hells are located in the Kannawa district, and two in the more remote Shibaseki district.
One of the more beautiful hells, the "sea hell" features a pond of boiling, blue water. In its spacious gardens, there are a few smaller, orange colored hells and a clear water pond with lotus flowers whose large leaves are strong enough to carry small children.
This hell is named after the mud bubbles, which emerge from boiling mud pools and look like the shaven heads of monks. There is also a foot bath with clear water. Adjacent to the hell is a public bath with multiple pools that costs an additional 620 yen.
True to its name, the "white pond hell" features a pond of hot, milky water. The pond is surrounded by a nice garden and a small, run-down aquarium that has seen better days.
The "cooking pot hell" features several boiling ponds and a flashy demon statue as cook. On the grounds, visitors can drink the hot spring water, enjoy hand and foot baths, inhale the hot spring steam and try various snacks cooked or steamed by the hot spring.
A large number of crocodiles are bred and kept on the grounds of the "monster mountain hell".
The "blood pond hell" features a pond of hot, red water and a large souvenir shop. It is one of the more photogenic hells.
The "spout hell" features a boiling hot geyser, which erupts every 30-40 minutes for about 6-10 minutes. A stone plate above the geyser hinders it to reach its full height. A short walking trail leads up the forested slope in the back of the hell grounds.
Getting there and around
The five hells in the Kannawa district can be easily accessed by frequently departing buses from JR Beppu Station in about 15 minutes. Bus number 5 and 7 are the fastest. Get off at Kannawa bus terminal, from where all seven hells can be reached on foot.
Bus number 16/16A runs twice per hour from Kannawa to Shibaseki (5 minutes) where the remaining two hells are located. The bus then continues via Kamegawa Station to Beppu Station (40 minutes). Bus number 26/26A runs in the opposite direction of bus number 16/16A.
Beppu is also easily explored by rental car. Free parking is provided at all the hells.