When you come to Beppu, a city that has a lot of steam coming out of the hot spring underground, you won’t want to miss steaming your own meal for yourself using that natural, mineral-rich steam! One of the restaurants that provide this experience is Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa (地獄蒸し工房 鉄輪). You will be able to access it with a 20-minute bus ride from JR Beppu Station (別府駅)!
This method of steaming ingredients with the steam coming from the underground is called Jigoku Mushi (hell steam) locally. This is because the hot spring where the steam is coming from is so hot, that it is like the heat of a fiery hell bubbling through the steam.
Although the name of the cuisine sounds scary, the steam not only brings out the true flavors of the food, it also adds a natural light mineral taste that compliments the ingredients nicely!
The Jigoku Mushi Cusine
When we arrived at the JR Beppu Station, white steam was coming out from small cracks between the surface and the underground.
As you might have noticed in the photo, with the chill weather in autumn, the steam was pouring from all the gutters.
At Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa, you will probably choose to sit outdoors during warmer months for fresh air. These are also the best seats to view visitors steaming their food!
To utilize the steam from underground, instead of where fire usually goes in the usual cooking stoves, the stove itself is connected to the underground to allow the hot steam to come up. And to steam the food, instead of the usual stovetops where you put your pot or frying pan on top, there is a round hole where you can put steaming baskets loaded with ingredients.
The locals called this type of cooking setting Jigokugama (hell pots). And this is what people from around Japan and even from around the world come to experience!
The Jigoku Mushi Experience at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
The process of the steaming experience goes like this:
☛ Choose the ingredients you want to steam and purchase the ingredient exchange tickets at the vending machine close to the entrance. Note you will not only need to buy ingredient exchange tickets but also a ticket to use the steam pot.
☛ At the service counter, pass the tickets you got from the vending machine to the staff for them to prepare the ingredients that you are going to steam. If there is a queue, you will be given a number plate.
☛ When your number is called, staff will guide you to your table and pass the ingredients you purchased to you. They will also give you a timer as well. Depending on what you ordered, you might need to open the steamer multiple times as each type of ingredient has a different steaming time.
☛ When you are ready, head to the steaming room with your ingredients!
☛ Staff will guide you to open and put the ingredients into the pot. They will set the timer for you so you know when to come back for the cooked food (this is what the timer is for!).
☛ While you wait for your ingredients to be cooked, head to the sauce corner to get the sauce you would like to dip your ingredients in. You will be able to get as many types of sauce as you like. The sauces are all labeled in different languages, so you won’t be left guessing (´▽｀*)
☛ When your timer beeps, head back to the steam pot room for your cooked food (≧▽≦)
☛ After your meal, as the restaurant is a self-service restaurant, you need to clear your own table, throw out your trash, and wash your dishes. (this might not be the case during and after COVID19 though)
The Vegetarian Options at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
Currently, for us vegetarians, there are quite a few options that you can choose from.
☆彡A variety of mushrooms
☆彡Tofu and mushrooms
☆彡White rice in bamboo leaves
All the vegetables and mushrooms will become very juicy and tasty after steaming in the Jigokugama!
You can check out Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa’s menu and cost HERE.
☆彡 Make sure you pick up an instruction sheet like the one in the photo. The instruction sheet comes in various languages. It gives you a brief idea of what to do during your experience as well as the cooking time of each type of ingredient.
☆彡You will want to get the big steam pot if you have a lot of ingredients to cook.
Bring Your Own Ingredients to Cook at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
If you think that the number of ingredients you can get for the price you pay at the restaurant isn’t proportional, you can bring your own food as well!
There are a few rules though that you need to comply with if you choose to do so. But we think the rules are quite reasonable. Basically, the rules are there in order to keep the steam cooktop clean. You can find out more about the rules that you will need to obey HERE.
Also, please note, on top of the steam pot usage fee (the same fee that you will be paying if you purchase ingredients from the restaurant), you will need to pay a B.Y.O. ingredients fee, usually between 600 yen to 800 yen depending on the amount of food you bring in for steaming.
While You Wait to Be Seated at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
As the restaurant is quite popular, don’t be surprised if you face over an hour of wait time. But unlike other restaurants, you can do more than eat here at Jigoku Mushi Kobo Kannawa (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ. And most importantly, the below facilities are free!!!
Drinking Fountain at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
Firstly, in front of the restaurant’s entrance, you will see this drinking fountain with a ghost face. The water coming out of its mouth is drinkable hot spring water. As the temperature of the water is approximately 98 degrees, you can even make a bowl of instant noodles with it (´▽｀*).
There were water cups and scoop for visitors to use when we visited the restaurant (you will probably need to bring your own bottle during the COVID19 pandemic though).
We found the water quite delicious that has the taste of konbu (seaweed).
While the hot spring water full of nutritious minerals is said to be good for our body, drinking too much isn’t a great idea. So remember to only fill up a third of the paper cup.
During our wait time, we went out and explored a bit and took some photos so it flew by.
Foot Sauna at Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
Next to the restaurant, there is this foot spa & foot steaming area. A foot spa with hot spring water is common in Japan, but have you heard of foot steaming?
Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa uses the steam from underground to steam food – just like all locals have done since the Edo period (1603 – 1868). However, the steam had a myriad of other uses too. They created these seats with holes in front of it for people to have a foot sauna!
So basically what you do is, you sit on the seat, put your legs into the two holes, then cover your leg with the wooden cover like the photo on the right-hand side.
The cover is to stop too much steam from coming out. But if it gets too hot, removing the cover is a good idea (‘ω’)ノ.
How to Get to Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa
There are quite a few bus routes that you can take from JR Beppu Station that will stop at the closest bus stop to Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa, Kannawa (鉄輪). We recommend the buses departing from the station’s west exit as they are the fastest and cheapest.
For the timetable for bus services departing from JR Beppu Station (別府駅), please refer to the below.
As most parts of the timetables above are in Japanese, if you need assistance reading it, you can contact us HERE and we will get back to you soon!
Jigoku Mushi Kōbō Kannawa’s Business Hours
- Due to COVID 19 pandemic, the business hours have been shortened to 10:00 am to 5 pm (last order at 4:30 pm).
- The restaurant is not open on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. But if that Wednesday is a public holiday in Japan, the restaurant will close on the next business day.
Discover What the Hell Looks Like When You Visit Beppu!
Whether you believe whether hell exists or not, wouldn’t it be fascinating to see what it might look like while you are alive?
Plan ahead of your visit to the hell with our article A Tour To The Hell Of Beppu – The Scariest Onsen Town In Japan to know where else to visit before or after you enjoy the delicious food at Jigokumushi Kōbō Kannawa!
Visiting Beppu by Taking the Sightseeing Train – Yufuin no Mori
While there are a couple of ways that can 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.