Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Next Stop: Heaven....

...or hell.

That was a lame joke that only a few of you probably got. Beppu, a town full of hot springs, was next on my list of places to see. The town has two types of hot springs - ones for looking at, and of course ones for bathing in. The ones that are for looking at are called Jigoku, which translates to hell, but in this case, just hot springs :)

I started my day by viewing a few of the natural hot springs. They all had foot baths, and I couldn't resist dipping my feet even before I went to look at the many hot spring attractions.

After a relaxing foot soak, I was ready to take on the day! Doesn't take much motivation to look at hot springs and then soak in them however! It really was a relaxing time!! Above is one of the naturally red hot springs.

Though Beppu is far from tropical, many tropical plants are able to be grown there because of the steam and warm water! Kinda cool, though I'm not sure that it's true outside the greenhouses they have there...

This hot spring is naturally an aquamarine blue, so pretty when the steam wasn't clouding my view. In this hot spring they boil eggs (you can see the basket) and it's pretty popular to buy and eat the eggs from here. I didn't buy any because you had to buy them in bags of five, and I'm not a huge boiled egg lover anyway. I think there is some superstition that if you eat an egg from there, you add years to your life. Don't quote me on that however, I don't really remember.

The whole city of Beppu steams, even the rain drains on the side of the street! It's an interesting sight to see!!

The last hot spring I went to see was this muddy one. It looks more like gray paint than it does water - even muddy water. It's called "Oniishibozu" named for the big bubbles that look like a monk's bald head. This one was probably my favorite.

The spots like these just kept bubbling and bubbling in the same spots. There must be some certain hot spots that cause the boil. There were several other hot springs I could have seen including a white one, a geyser one, one with alligators running around, etc, but I opted out to try out some onsens instead so more than just my eyes would benefit from all the natural hot water!!
On the first day I went to just one of the regular onsens, one much like the one I go to all the time where I live. They did have a nice waterfall bath where water falls in a big stream and you stand or sit under it, letting it massage your back. Fabulous!! After getting clean, I decided to get dirty and go to the mud bath! Above is the sign which I though was quite hilarious. In reality, the mud bath was not all that hot, though definitely quite natural. Looked like just a big mud lake! I wasn't a huge fan, but it was an interesting experience anyway! The mud was the same color as the paint looking hot spring, though a little more watery as the mud settles on the bottom when it's not boiling like the hot spring. Either way it was great.

On day two in Beppu, I didn't go to see any hot springs, but I did decide to soak in a few more! I took a bus out to Suginoi Palace, an onsen with a great view over the city of Beppu. After that, I went and did a sand bath, where they bury you in sand that is heated from below from the hot springs. You stay in the sand for about 10 minutes before you break free of the weight on top of you and go to wash it all off and soak yourself in a real bath!

I just happened to run into a friend in Beppu -- she was my roommate at Tokyo orientation and we took a trip to Osaka together, so it was nice having a familiar face. Though I still went off on my own and kinda did my own thing, I met up with her and a friend a few times throughout the two days. We also had some amazing Italian dinners together in the evenings! It was good to have a mix of both doing my own thing and hanging with friends.

My last stop on the trip was Kyoto for New Year's! Next post to come a bit more quickly than this one I hope!! I actually tried to put this one up several times, but was having trouble uploading the pictures. Finally got it to work today!!

No comments: