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Published on 06.07.2016
Jigoku Meguri or “the eight hells” are geothermal hotspots located in the city Beppu of the Japanese southern island Kyushu. Eight hot spring sites or “hells” are clustered around the Jigoku region of Kannawa, each being very distinctive in appearance, though all awe-inspiring. These springs have been present for thousands of years and since ancient times many feared approaching the area, lending to its naming as “hells”. Today they are one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city.
The first “hell” is the Umi-Jigoku or “sea hell”. Here there is a pond of cobalt-blue water at a scalding 98°C (208°F) and a depth of 200m, which has led to this Jigoku being named as a National Site of Scenic Beauty. This feature was created after the eruption of Mt. Tsurumi approximately 1,200 years ago. A large, clear pond lies near the blue water pond with massive Japanese lilies floating atop the water – the leaves of some are strong enough to hold the weight of a child!
The second Jigoku is the Oniishibozu-Jigoku or “Oniishi shaven head hell”. The unusual name for the mud pools come from the grey mud bubbles that rise to the surface, which are meant to resemble the rising head of a bald monk. Adjacent to the mud pools are footbaths to soak your feet, or for an extra 600yen, a public Onsen spa.
The Yama-Jigoku, or “mountain hell”, features vents from numerous mountains that cause steam to billow out. The warm water at 98°F (194°F) allows the growth of rare vegetation and animals.
Next is the Kamado-Jigoku or “oven hell”. Its name originates from the ancient custom of using the steam rising from the spring to cook rice that was then offered to the local guardian deity during festival time. Visitors can try inhaling the steam from the spring or enjoy hand and foot baths. A large statue of an Oni, or Japanese demon, can be seen above the ‘oven’ cooking something up with a massive pot and spoon.
The Oniyama-Jigoku is perhaps one of the most exhilarating of the hells. Otherwise known as “crocodile hell”, witness roughly 100 actual crocodiles cluster in this spring. The hot temperatures of the spring have made it perfect breeding conditions for the crocodiles since 1923.
The Shiraike-Jigoku or “white pond hell” follows. The hot spring water is actually naturally clear, however as it flows into the pond water, the sudden drop in temperature and pressure give this pond its distinctive blue-white colour. The warm temperature allows many large tropical fish to dwell in the water.
The next site features one of the best photo opportunities at the Chinoike-Jigoku or “blood pond hell”. This intense name comes from the red waters of the pond caused by the clay dissolved in it. The spring is so hot that red steam even rises from it.
Lastly is the Tatsumaki-Jigoku or “tornado hell”. Here you can witness a geyser of boiling hot spring water. What makes this geyser rather remarkable, and nicely convenient for visitors, is the short intervals between the spouts. These eruptions occur every 30-40 minutes and last roughly 7 minutes, so are a hard to miss attraction.
Such a unique destination is sure to come with some unique souvenirs! Grab a handmade Jigoku Mushiyaki pudding – a rich mixture of eggs, milk and sugar steamed in the hot waters of the Umi-Jigoku. The clay staining the red waters of the Chinoike-Jigoku also makes the Chinoike ointment, which is renowned for its effectiveness against skin diseases.
Address: 〒87-0045 559-1, Kannawa, Beppu-shi, Oita
Admission prices (for all 8 “hells”)
High school 1350yen
Junior high 1000yen
Elementary 900yen ※Discount available for groups and disabled people
Open: 8:00 to 17:00
No closing days.
The Jigoku region in the Kannawa district can be easily reached from the JR Deppu Station.
Bus routes 5, 7 and 9 take approximately 15 minutes. Stop at Kannawa Bus Terminal and the “hells” can then be reached on foot.
It can also be reached by car with 700 free car parking spaces around the Jigoku.
Marvel at the distinctiveness of each Jigoku (Hot spring) at Beppu