The Hells of Bepu, Japan

During our trip to Japan in 2014, we traveled a few hours by train with my boyfriend and his family to the Kyushu region. The particular city we stayed in, Beppu, was known for having onsen ryokans (Japanese style inns with hot spring baths) and also the “Hells” of Beppu, which are eight different types of hot springs that are meant for viewing rather than relaxing in. These “hells” are named in reflection of their extreme temperatures. We decided to take a guided bus tour that would stop at each hell and let us get off to take a look, because why not?
The little tour guide stood there and talked nonstop in Japanese as we drove from hell to hell, and then also led us around at each stop. The whole thing was such a hilarious and bizarre experience, and I loved it.
Pictured above is the Oniishibozu Jigoku, which is named after the mud bubbles and said to look like the shaved heads of monks (haha).
This one is named Shiraike Jigoku, “White Pond Hell”, because of its hot, milky water.
At one of the “hells,” you could try a bit of the hot spring water, which is supposed to be good for your health. It smells like rotten eggs, which actually is what most of these hot springs smell like.
Here we have Yama Jigoku, which translates to “Mountain Hell.” I bet you can see why!
At a few of the hells, there were animals to be seen in a small sort of zoo. We saw rabbits, miniature horses, peacocks, and tons of crocodiles. The crocodiles were definitely very creepy! They would just lay on the warm pavement, asleep with their mouths wide open. Some of them almost looked like they were dead. One of the stranger aspects of this experience!
Although I did not picture all eight hells here, this was the last one we visited on our tour! This is Chinoike Jigoku, “Blood Pond Hell” and is described on a travel site as “one of the more photogenic hells”(haha).
I may have to agree with them, as I think this was my favorite hell of all the hells! I mean, it definitely is a winner if I can get a photo like this ;)Last random note: at a few of these hot springs, you can actually buy hard boiled eggs that have been boiled by the hot spring water. Supposedly the best eggs ever or something. What will these Japanese people come up with next?! 


*all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted


Tips for Traveling in Japan

skytree3.jpgIn 2014, I visited Japan with my boyfriend, Dai. I am very lucky that he is Japanese and can speak the language, so I did not have to worry about communication during my trip! It was a really amazing experience and I will definitely share more about it here soon, but for now I wanted to share some tips for traveling while you’re there.

+ Get a JR pass
A JR pass is railway pass that allows you to travel all over Japan on the bullet trains. It is only available for tourists and is a huge discount, so I definitely recommend taking advantage of this offer! We got a one week pass and used it while we traveled to different parts of Japan before settling in Tokyo for the second week where we just used the local bus system.

+ Rent a pocket wifi router
In Japan, it unfortunately isn’t very easy to find free wifi like it is here in the US. There are, however, these cool things that are little wifi sources that you can just carry in your pocket with you so that you can connect to its network. We didn’t have one during our trip and just relied on connecting to wifi when we returned to our hotel, but it would have been nice to be able to use our phones for directions and things while we were out.

+ Be on time
Unlike here in the US, the trains and buses in Japan run perfectly on time. If by the off chance that they are even a minute late, the train operators apologize to the passengers. That being said, if you are hoping to get a ride at a specific time, make sure you are on time because you most likely will miss it!

+ Have coins for vending machines
I know this might seem like a minor thing to think about, but if you are out for the day and are thirsty or need a quick snack before you catch your train, you will thank yourself for having coins for the vending machines! Plus, vending machines in Japan are pretty dang cool, so you will want to get something from them!

I hope these tips come in handy and inspire you to head to Japan!


* all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted