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Friday, August 28, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Beppu Jigoku Meguri 別府地獄巡り

Visited 23.03.2014

Hectic schedule. The original plan was to embark on a day trip to Beppu and board Yufuin no mori 4 from Beppu JR station, which departs from this train station only once a day, back to Kumamoto. However, due to the huge popularity of this sightseeing train, no seats was available and I had to settle for a later timing which departs from Yufuin JR Station instead. Revised the itinerary, by cutting short the time spent in Beppu to only 2.5 hrs in order to board a bus back to Yufuin to catch the train. Because of time constraint, we had to undergo a "touch and go" mode to cover all eight jigoku. In fact, each Jigoku has so much more to offer. Apart from the hot spring sources, there were other side attractions such as mini zoos, museums, aquariums, footbath and shops selling local food and souvenirs. I have to admit it was an ambitious move and the outcome was pretty undesirable. We missed the bus to the second cluster of Jigoku and the return bus from Beppu to Yufuin (due to a traffic jam on the way back to Beppu JR Station). Had to depend on taxi on both occasions. If given a second chance, I will want to return to Beppu to revisit all the jigoku again, at a much leisure pace. 


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Highlights:

- Most economical way to tour all eight jigoku is to purchase the bundled entrance ticket which cost 2,100 yen. For those who only have time to visit selected Jigoku, individual entrance tickets are also sold separately at each Jigoku. With Beppu 1 Day Mini Passport, you are also entitled to purchase the tickets at a discounted rate (200 yen off).

Left: Hungry hippopotamus in Yama Jigoku; Top right: Umi Jigoku; Bottom right: Boiling mud in Oniishibozu Jigoku.
- First clusters of Jigoku: 

(1) Umi Jigoku 海地獄: The cobalt blue colour of the hot spring waters resembles the sea. This hot spring source is about 200 m deep and is said to have emerged about 1,200 years ago after an volcanic explosion.  

(2) Yama Jigoku 山地獄: The name came from the mountain of mud that were formed over the years. The power of earth can be felt by the strong gust of steam which emerged from bottom of the ground continuously and fiercely. This jigoku houses a mini zoo which showcases hippopotamus, flamingos, mini horses.

(3) Oniishibozu Jigoku 鬼石坊主地獄: This jigoku looks like a giant pot of boiling mud. It is named oniishi bozu (shaven head) because the boiling bubbles of hot gray mud looked like shaven heads of monks.

Bottom left: No. 5 pond in Kamado Jigoku which changes colour overtime.
(4) Kamado Jigoku かまど地獄: The mascot of this site is represented by a bright red demon standing on an enormous cooking pot. Known as "Oven Hell", its name is derived because the steam generated from the various hot spring sources were used for cooking food in the past. There are a total of six hot spring sources here. No. 1, 2 and 6 ponds contained hot muddy waters. No. 3 is a blue pond which produces whitish material of SiO2 and hot spring precipitate that takes about 70 years to form. No. 4 is similar to Oniishibozu Jigoku. No. 5 is a pond which mysteriously changes colour (to various shades of blue) a couple of times throughout the year. Footbath can also be enjoyed in this Jigoku too.

Left: Crocodiles basking under the sun and enjoying the warm waters in Oniyama Jigoku; Right: White steam generated from the milky waters of Shiraike Jigoku.
(5) Oniyama Jigoku 鬼山地獄: The Jigoku that I am most fearful of. Not because of the large amount of steam generated from the hot spring source but the sight of a bask of crocodiles enjoying the warm waters did send a chill down my spine. In fact, there are about 80 crocodiles being breed here! Force of the steam is powerful enough to pull one and a half train. You can also try food such as corns, sweet potatoes and eggs which are cooked using the steam generated from the hot spring source.

(6) Shiraike Jigoku 白池地獄: In a traditional Japanese garden setting, the hot spring water was originally colourless when it surged out from the ground but turned creamy white after time. Do spend some time exploring the aquarium here which showcased Piranhas that thrived in the Amazon River and about 10 species of tropical fishes.

Left: Reddish brown waters of Chinoike Jigoku; Right: Waited to see the geyser in action at Tatsumaki Jigoku.
- 2nd cluster of Jigoku:

(7) Chinoike Jigoku 血の池地獄: Described as the "blood pond" due to the reddish brown colour of hot spring waters. Red mud/clay which contains iron oxide and magnesium oxide is produced under high temperature and pressure underground. Do make your way up to one of its elevated spot to get a better overview of this magnificent steaming reddish brown pond.

(8) Tatsumaki Jigoku 龍卷地獄: Designated as a natural monument by Beppu city, this geyser spouts out boiling water and steam for about 6 - 10 minutes at every 30 - 40 minutes interval. Managed to see the geyser in action just before we rushed for our departing bus.

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Recommended route:
- From Beppu JR Station West Exit Bus Stop, take Bus 5 or 41 and alight at Umi Jigoku mae to visit the first cluster of Jigoku (1) to (6).
- At Kannawa Bus Terminal, take Bus 16 and alight at Chinoike Jigoku mae to visit the second cluster of Jigoku (7) and (8).
- At Chinoike Jigoku mae, take Bus 16 again to return to Beppu JR Station.
Bus 5: http://www.beppuni.com/bus/route/k5.html
Bus 41: http://www.beppuni.com/bus/route/k41.html

Bus 16: http://www.beppuni.com/bus/route/k16.html (Kannawa > Chinoike Jigoku > Beppu JR Station)

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Jigoku Meguri 地獄巡り 
Opening hrs: 0800 - 1700 hrs
http://www.beppu-jigoku.com/index.html
English brochure: http://www.beppu-jigoku.com/images/English0.pdf
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Commemorative stamps: 


Kamado Jigoku

Kamado Jigoku

Oniishibozu Jigoku

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