I lived in Beppu for three years and had lots of time exploring the area. Here is my insider guide to the Hells of Beppu and tips to enjoy the best of your day here.
This article includes the following sections:
- About Beppu Hell Tour (Jigoku Meguri)
- Best places to stay
- How to get to the Hells of Beppu
- The best hells to visit
- What to eat in Beppu
What is Jigoku Meguri?
Jigoku Meguri (Beppu Hell Tour) is a famous sightseeing tour including eight nearby hot springs. “Hot and boiling water as if it comes from hell” is how the area gains its name.
The hells include Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell), Shiraike Jigoku (White Pond Hell), Oniyama Jigoku (Devil Mountain Hell), Oniishibozu Jigoku, Kamado Jigoku, Chinoike Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell), and Tatsumaki Jigoku (Tornado Hell).
How to visit Hells of Beppu
All the hot springs mentioned above are concentrated in the hilly area north of the city but two different areas.
The areas are about 3km apart. Usually, people will drive or catch a bus to travel between these two areas, but you can also walk about 40 minutes.
For 1 day Beppu Hell Tour, you can start at Umi Jigoku, walk and look around Oniishi Bozu Jigoku, Yama Jigoku, Kamado Jigoku, Shiraike Jigoku and Oniyama Jigoku.
For Chinoike and Tatsumaki Jigoku, you should travel by bus.
The best way to visit Hells of Beppu is to purchase a Jigoku Meguri Pass and Kamenoi Bus 1-day Pass. The Kamenoi Bus 1 Day Pass offers unlimited rides within the date so that you can get around easily.
How to get to Jigoku Meguri Beppu Hell Tour
From JR Beppu Station Nishi-guchi (West Gate), you take Kamenoi bus No. 2, 5, 41, or 43 to Umi-Jigoku-mae or Kannawa station.
By car, from Oita motorway “Beppu IC,” take the provincial road No. 11, heading for Kannawa Onsen. It takes about 5 minutes to reach Kanawa.
How to buy Jigoku Meguri Pass
If you arrive at Fukuoka airport, you can book your Jigoku Pass and Kamenoi Bus online and receive your voucher at the counter.
Alternatively, you can also purchase a Jigoku Pass in Beppu, Kanawa, or in front of the entrance of any Jigoku.
How to redeem your voucher
You can easily redeem the voucher at the HIS counter at Fukuoka Airport International Terminal. The voucher is valid for 30 days, and you present it outside Umi Jigoku to receive the booklet.
Best hot spring to visit on Jigoku Meguri Tour
Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell)
Umi Jigoku is the largest hot spring in the Beppu Hell tour. This cobalt-blue lake was formed by the activity of the Tsurumidake volcano about 1200 years ago.
The name came from its color, meaning blue sea hell. Despite its name, the lake has a temperature of up to 98 degrees.
Chinoike Jigoku (Blood Hell)
The Blood Pond Hell of Chinoike Jigoku will take your breath away with its vivid color like blood.
Chinoike Jigoku has existed for more than 1300 years and is one of Japan’s oldest natural hot springs. The color comes from heavy metal in the lake.
Kamado Jigoku (Cooking Pot Hell)
Kamado Jigoku is a great place to have your hot spring experience. You can sit and warm up your feet on the hot stones or drink and taste the hot spring water here.
Also, there’s a photogenic cobalt blue pond as well.
Oniishi Bozu Jigoku
This place is called “Oniishi shaven head hell” after the area’s name – Oniishi. People say the bubbles of the hot gray mud look like the shaven heads of the monks. Do you think so?
Oniyama Jigoku (Monster Mountain Hell)
Oniyama Jigoku is where you can see the crocodiles!
The place started breeding crocodiles in the Taisho period (1912 to 1926) using the temperature and natural conditions to maintain a suitable living environment.
You can also see the display of Kurokodairu Ichiro crocodile raised in the past. Ichiro died at the age of 71 and was the oldest crocodile raised in Oniyama Jigoku.
Shiraike Jigoku (White Pond Hell)
Shirake means white pond in Japanese, even though the color is bluer.
This pond features a hot and milky white color and smoke due to boric acid, salt, sodium silicate, and calcium bicarbonate reaction.
Tatsumaki Jigoku (Spout hell)
Last on this list is Tatsumaki Jigoku. This hell is next to Chinoike Jigoku, and you may skip it if you don’t have much time.
There is a powerful geyser, and it sprays every 30 min for around 10 min, so you have to sit and wait until it does. It wasn’t fascinating, in my opinion.
What to eat on the Beppu Hell Tour
After the Hells Tour, what do you think about a hell-steamed meal?
“Hell-steam” cuisine is a local specialty of Beppu onsen. This delicious and healthy cooking method uses the fumes of the hot spring, so high-temperature steam allows the food to be steamed up all in one go.
You can enjoy steamed meals at Geothermal Tourism Lab Enma or local restaurants in the Kanawa area.
Alternatively, if you’d like to try steaming your meals, you can do it at the Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center near Kannawa.
Onsen Tamago is one of the must-try dishes on your Bepppu trip.
This Hot spring boiled egg is is slowly prepared in hot spring water to create silky egg white and custard-like yolk. You can find it at most hot springs on tour.
Jigoku Purin (Hell-steamed pudding)
This hell-steamed pudding is an excellent treat on your trip to Beppu.
Cooked in the onsen steam, this pudding has just the right amount of bitterness to the caramel, and its rich flavor will keep you coming back for more.