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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

A Tour to the Hells of Beppu – Japan’s Scariest Onsen Town

From ancient times, the people who lived in Beppu (別府) in Ōita Prefecture suffered from the heat generated by volcanic activities. Crops could hardly be grown on the field, causing serious food shortage problems. And because the terrifying landscapes shaped by volcanic activities are nowhere to be found elsewhere in Japan, various myths and legends emerged that stopped people from approaching the town. This is also why the area has been called Jigoku (hell).

This desperate situation was completely changed by a Buddhist monk who visited Beppu. After he understood what people were suffering from, he wisely advised the locals to utilize the special scenery for tourism purposes. From then, with lots of hard effort, the town of Beppu slowly transformed from a town of poverty to a town of prosperity!

This is why you will see statues of the monk (named Ippen) quite often in the area (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Nowadays, when people come to Beppu, few will give Jigoku Meguri (a tour of the seven hells) a miss. Each “hell” consists of a boiling pool of onsen water, and each has its own unique style. And yes, the onsen ponds in the seven hells aren’t for you to bathe in. Unless you want to experience what the real hell is like…

If you are interested in seeing a pond of bloody red water, the heads of monks emerging from boiling mudding onsen, or piles of crocodiles on top of each other, then read on (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The seven hells are actually quite close to each other, with two of them located a bit further away from the other five. But don’t miss out on those two just because they are separated! Because they are the two hells that we found the most fascinating (≧▽≦).

The 7 Jigoku (Hells) in the Beppu Hell Tour

Refer to HERE for information about admission fee and bus passes.

Tip: Pre-purchase the admission fee set deal HERE to save!

You can also find the official English pamphlet of the hell tour HERE.

How to Get to the Hells in Beppu

From JR Beppu Station’s (別府駅) or JR Kamegawa Station (亀川駅), there are a couple of bus routes operating by Kamenoi Bus (亀の井バス) you can take to get to one of the seven hells in Beppu.

  • For the timetable for bus services departing from JR Beppu Station (別府駅), please refer to the HERE.
  • If you don’t read Japanese, use one of Japan Transport Apps and search.
  • Bus routes no. 2, 5, 7, and 41. These services depart from the west exit.
  • Bus routes no. 15, 16, 16A, 20, 24, and 25. These services depart from the east exit.
    • Chinoike Jigoku and Tatsumaki Jigoku: Take route No. 16 or 16A bounds for Kannawa (written as 鉄輪 or かんなわ) and get off at ChinoikeJigoku-mae (血の池地獄前).
    • Umi Jigoku, Oniishibōzu Jigoku, Kamado Jigoku, Oniyama Jigoku, Shiraike Jigoku: take route No. 2, 5, 9, 24, or 41 and get off at Umi Jigoku-mae (海地獄前).

Tips:
☛ Instead of taking a bus to travel between all the hells, you can rent an electric-assisted bicycle from the bicycle port from Umi Jigoku, Tatsumaki Jigoku, and Kamado Jigoku. A one-day IC card to access the bicycle can be purchased from Umi Jigoku and Tatsumaki Jigoku.
☛ Before exploring Beppu, how about changing into a Kimono or Yukata? If that sounds like a good idea, make a reservation with Kimono-Murakami, just a 5-minute walk from Beppu Station!

Explore the Hells of Beppu with a Guide

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the amazing township and the surrounding attractions, how about joining one of the below tours?

From Beppu

FromHakata, Fukuoka

The Two Hells That Are Separated from the Others

While the below two hells are approximately 3 km away from the rest of the hells, it doesn’t mean they are hard to get to! Direct buses regularly come from JR Beppu Station and bring you to the front gate of the hells.

Chinoike Jigoku (血の池地獄)

Chinoike-Hell-Beppu-Japan

Like its name, the Chinoike Hell is a boiling, red pond of onsen water. Even the steam coming out of the pond is red! It looks just like a pit of fiery hell, tinged with the blood of lost souls. The red steam coming out of the pond is like the blood evaporating…(;・∀・)

But sorry to spoil it for you, the color is actually just due to the high level of iron in the water. If you didn’t know, we are sure you would be scared of the scenery in front of you just like the ancient Japanese!

If you are suffering from skin diseases, give the Chinoike Ointment (血の池軟膏) that you can get from the Chinoike Jigoku’s souvenir shop a try. The ointment is made from the red clay from the blood pond. Whilst we haven’t tried it ourselves, it is said to be quite effective!

Tip: Chinoike Jigoku has a restaurant serving light meals cooked from pesticide-free ingredients from Ōita Prefecture. For our vegetarian friends, you can order the Jigoku Mushi Gozen (地獄蒸し御膳) and ask the staff to exclude meat and seafood from your meal. If you have issues communicating with the staff in English, utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article!

How to Get to Chinoike Jigoku

From JR Beppu Station’s (別府駅) east exit or JR Kamegawa Station (亀川駅), take Kamenoi Bus (亀の井バス) No. 16 or 16A bounds for Kannawa (written as 鉄輪 or かんなわ). The bus stop you should be getting off at is ChinoikeJigoku-Mae (血の池地獄前).

  • From JR Beppu Station, it is a 40-minute journey that will cost you 390 yen.
  • From JR Kamegawa Station, it is a 15-minute journey that will cost you 140 yen.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Tatsumaki Jigoku (龍巻地獄)

Tatsumaki means tornado. At Tatsumaki Jigoku, the “Tatsumaki” is used to describe the strength of the onsen geyser. Its geyser is capable of spouting water as high as 30 meters Σ(゚Д゚).

Note we say capable here because the boiling water isn’t actually able to push past the rock on top of the geyser (as yet!). But one day, with its continuous attempts, we are sure the geyser will be able to break the rock on top of it and really reach 30 meters above the ground!

How to Get to Tatsumaki Jigoku

It is just next to Chinoike Jigoku (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

The Other Five Hells

Umi Jigoku (海地獄)

Umi Jigoku is the biggest hell among the seven hells in Beppu. The pond is of cobalt-blue color due to the iron sulfate dissolved in the onsen.

As the pond’s color is as blue as the ocean, the hell is named ocean hell. While the pond is a beautiful ocean color, don’t attempt to jump into it. The water temperature is a scolding 98 ℃!

Next to the hell pond, you will find a big greenhouse with tropical plants. The lotus in the greenhouse is so big that human children up to 20kg can sit or stand on their leaves!

During Obon Festival in mid-August each year, kids are able to experience standing on top of the lotus leaves. So if you have kids, that is something you won’t miss out on!

There is also a souvenir center at Umi Jigoku. After you have got enough souvenirs from the first floor, head to the museum on the 2nd floor for some history of Umi Jigoku!

In September each year, there is a nighttime lighting event at Umi Jigoku. By utilizing the steam from the onsen, you are able to enjoy a lighting show that can’t be found elsewhere!

  • Check out the lighting show in 2023, which took place from the 16th to the 24th of September.
  • Refer to the Official Website for the event date this year.

Note a separate admission fee is charged for the event. You will get a 500 yen discount if you have the hell tour set ticket (べっぷ地獄めぐり共通観覧券). Otherwise, you will need to pay the below admission fee.

  • 1,100 yen for adults
  • 900 yen for university students
  • 600 yen for senior high school students
  • 400 yen for elementary and junior high school students

How to Get to Umi Jigoku

  • From JR Beppu Station’s west exit, take Kamenoi Bus (亀の井バス) No. 2, 5, 9, 24, or 41. The bus stop you should be getting off at is Umi Jigoku Mae (海地獄前). From JR Beppu Station, it is a 20-minute journey.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Oniishibōzu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄)

Here at Oniishibōzu Jigoku, it consists of one big grey mud pond with a few smaller mud ponds around.

The area where the hell is located is called “oniishi”, which means “ghost stones”. It is probably because there were originally a lot more mud ponds with constant small and large bubbles of hot grey mud emerging. The bubbles that look like they were made out of stone must have scared the locals into thinking ghosts made them!

When the area was transformed into a tourist spot, people added “bōzu” after the area’s name “oniishi” because the mud bubbles are as shiny as a monk’s bald head (´▽`*).

Onsen for You to Bath in at Oniishibōzu Jigoku

If you fancy actually bathing in onsen during your tour to the Hells of Beppu, Oniishibōzu Jigoku is the only hell among the seven hells that you can do so. At the back of the hell, you will find a wooden cottage with an onsen for human bathing.

There are indoor, outdoor, and private bathing areas that suit everybody’s needs! Note they don’t provide free towels, so if you don’t want to pay 150 yen for towel rental or 200 yen to buy one, you will need to bring your own.

Price-wise, it is:

  • 620 yen for adults
  • 300 yen for primary school students
  • 200 yen for children under 5.
  • You can also rent out the family onsen pool for 2,000 yen for up to four people for 60 minutes.

The bathing facility is open until 9:30 pm, so you can relax in the onsen after a long trip through hell (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Find out more information on their official website HERE and select the language at the top of the webpage.

How to Get to Oniishibōzu Jigoku

It is just next to Umi Jigoku (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Kamado Jigoku (かまど地獄)

The word “kamado” in Japanese means “cooktop”. From ancient times, the locals have been using the steam of the onsen for cooking their food. Hence the name.

The actual ponds in Kamado Jigoku look nothing like a cooktop. Instead, what is worthwhile to mention is that there are a total of 6 onsen ponds, and each has its own uniqueness!

The biggest pond – Kamado Gochome (かまど5丁目), is a mysterious pond that changes color several times a year. But since it happens gradually (apparently overnight most of the time), it is really not that exciting, and we were only there for less than an hour. It is not like the color of the pond is changing color in front of us (´▽`*).

What is really fascinating at Kamado Jigoku is what a single cigarette can do to the steam of the onsen.

If you are lucky, the staff will be walking around with a cigarette at Kamado Jigoku.

And no, the cigarette isn’t for their own enjoyment, but to show you the true power of the cigarette (≧▽≦).

There are also a few hot spring experience corners at Kamado Jigoku, including the usual footbath.

  • Bedrock foot spa: when the weather is chilly, put your feet on the bedrock that is heated up by the onsen underneath. The temperature is just about right, so you don’t need to worry about being burnt! Please take off your shoes when you utilize the bedrock foot spa. You can, however, leave your socks on (^_-)-☆
  • Drinkable onsen: next to the bedrock foot spa, there is an onsen fountain. Be careful not to burn yourself, though, as the water is 80 ℃
  • Footbath area: next to the 6th pond, there is a footbath for visitors to use. If you have a dry towel or don’t mind leaving with a pair of wet feet, then give it a go!

For more information, please refer to their official website HERE.

How to Get to Kamado Jigoku

  • From Umi Jigoku, it is a 5-minute walk.
  • It is also really close to the delicious Jigoku Mushi Kobo Restaurant. For more information, please refer to our Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa article!

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Oniyama Jigoku (鬼山地獄)

At Oniyama Jigoku, you will find approximately 80 crocodiles. The water is kept at a temperature suitable for breeding them by utilizing the heat from the onsen.

If you fancy an experience of feeding these giant alligators, visit Oniyama Jigoku at 10 am on a Saturday or a Sunday. For weekdays, enquire with the facility for the feeding schedule by calling them at +81-977-67-1500.

If you are lucky like us, you will be able to find some baby crocodiles as well! Apparently, these few baby crocodiles have now grown big enough to be relocated to the bigger pond in the photo above.

It seems like it takes a while for crocodiles to grow up, unlike dogs and cats…(´▽`*).

How to Get to Oniyama Jigoku

From Umi Jigoku, it is a 6-minute walk.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Shiraike Jigoku (白池地獄)

Shiraike means white pond in Japanese. The onsen pond is white, thus the name.

To us, the pond looks not much different from other onsens around the country.

We like the entrance of this hell just because we love anything that has the slightest Japanese elements (´▽`*)!

There are also a small aquarium and a gallery at Shiraike Jigoku, which you might want to visit. We like the entrance of this hell as well. Just because we love anything that has the slightest Japanese elements (´▽`*)!

After your visit to the Shiraike Jigoku, you can visit the famous Jigoku Mushi Kōbō for some delicious and healthy onsen steamed food (as the restaurant is just 2 minutes away)!

How to Get to Shiraike Jigoku

From Umi Jigoku, it is a 7-minute walk.

Click HERE to jump back to the list of hells.

Foot Spa at the Hells

At the below four hells, there are free foot spas for you to enjoy:

  • Umi Jigoku
  • Chinoike Jigoku
  • Kamado Jigoku
  • Oniishibōzu Jigoku

Remember to bring your towel, or you will have to dry your feet with the natural wind…

Admission Fee to Beppu Hells and Their Opening Hours

  • Single admission to any hell is 450 yen.
    • The admission fee for students and children differ from hell to hell. But, if you plan to visit at least 4 hells, then a combined ticket should give you some savings.
  • A combined ticket to all 7 hells is
    • 2,200 yen for adults
    • 1,000 yen for elementary and junior high school students.
    • The combined ticket will last for two days from the day of purchase.
  • The hells are open from 8 am to 5 pm.

Tip: Print out This Coupon to get 10% off on combined entrance tickets to your hell tour! One coupon can be used to purchase up to 5 combined entrance tickets.

1-Day or 2-Days Bus Pass

If you plan to enjoy Beppu’s hells, getting the My べっぷ Free – mini 1-day bus pass (pronounced as my Beppu free mini) might be worthwhile. It will allow you to ride the Kamenoi Bus unlimitedly for one day.

The majority of buses running in Beppu are Kamenoi Bus.

My Beppu Free Mini’s Price

One-Day Pass
  • Adult: 1,100 yen
  • Students: 900 yen
  • Younger children: 550 yen
Two-Day Pass
  • Adult: 1,700 yen
  • Children: 850 yen

Where You Can Get the Bus Pass from

  • JR Beppu Station Tourist Information Centre
  • Ekimachi Ichome Beppu Information Centre (えきマチ1丁目別府インフォメーション) at either JR Beppu Station’s east or west exit
  • Kamenoi Bus Waiting Room at Kannawa stop
  • Online throuh kkday

Tips:
→ Show your bus pass to get 10% off for your admission to all the Beppu Hells, Beppu Tower, and Oita Fragrance Museum (大分香りの博物館). Adults are also able to get 100 yen off for Beppu Ropeway’s admission fee. For more information, refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English with Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
→ If instead of Yufuin no Mori, you can also take a bus to Yufuin, or you want to visit African Safari, then a My べっぷ Free – wide bus pass is recommended. 1-Day pass for adults is 1,700 yen and 850 yen for elementary school students (2,600 yen and 1,300 yen respectively for a Two-Day Pass).

Visiting Beppu by Taking the Sightseeing Train – Yufuin no Mori

While there are a couple of ways to get you to Beppu, if you have time, take the gorgeous sightseeing train – Yufuin no Mori!

Different from the normal JR train, Yufuin no Mori was designed to enhance your travel experience to Beppu and Yufuin with various services and facilities that make your train ride more pleasant.

For more information, please refer to our article on Yufuin no Mori.

Yufuin-no-mori to yufuin and Beppu in Kyushu
Click the photo to find out more about Yufuin no Mori!

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