A Complete Guide to Visiting The Hells of Beppu, Japan

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Umi Jigoku Hot Spring, Beppu, Japan

The Hells of Beppu, also known as the Circles of Hell, is a series of volcanic hot springs in Beppu, Southern Japan. Beppu is one of the top destinations in Japan to experience hot springs. Even though there are nearly 3,000 hot springs in total in the area, there are head honchos that people come to see because of their unique features and representations of different types of torture and punishment.

The collection of hot springs that make up the Hells of Beppu is the world’s second-largest producer of geothermal water. They lose first place to Yellowstone National Park in the US. But being in second place makes them no less impressive!

Visiting these famous attractions is a major draw to the area. Still, visitors can enjoy snacks like boiled eggs cooked with geothermal steam or hot sand baths on the beach heated naturally from underground water. Here’s a list of the Hells of Beppu and some practical information on visiting them for yourself.

The History of the Hells of Beppu

Smoke From Beppu Hot Spring

The history of the Beppu Hells is a long and dark one. The Beppu Hells are said that the first devil was created when Lucifer, the most beautiful angel in Heaven, fell from grace. He was so angry at God for his betrayal that he decided to create his kingdom, separate from Heaven.

The Beppu Hells is a place of torment and suffering, where the damned are condemned to spend eternity. The powerful devils there enjoy inflicting pain on others, and there is no mercy or pity.

The only way to escape the Hells is to be forgiven by God, a fate few people achieve. Home to the Hells, the area of Beppu is known for its geothermal activity and hot spring water, and several springs are said to be the entrance to the underworld.

How to Visit the Hells of Beppu

Torii in Umi Jigoku
aaron90311 / Adobe Stock

The springs are located in Beppu in the Ōita Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. So, your ideal base would be Beppu City.

From here, you can board a bus from Beppu Station (the numbers 5 and 7 are the fastest options) for a ride of about 15 minutes to Kannawa Bus Station. Then, you can enjoy a short stroll to the main group of the seven hells.

To reach the final two hells, pop on another bus from the Kannawa District to the Shibaseki District. This bus journey will only take around five minutes, so you could easily walk it to get more steps in. All buses run frequently, and the fare is very affordable.

Of course, Kyushu Island is easy to get around with the famously efficient Japanese public transport. A train from Fukuoka to Beppu Station will take under two hours, and it could take just over one hour from the city of Kitakyushu. So you could easily fit the Hells of Beppu into a day trip from other spots on the island.

Or you could go for a more self-sufficient option and hire a car to explore at your leisure! Conveniently enough, parking in hell is free, all of them!

See Related: Things to do in Beppu, Japan

What to See at the Hells of Beppu

Aerial view of Hells of Beppu Umi Jigoku
M・H / Adobe Stock

The Nine Hells of Beppu is located in Beppu, Japan. The easiest way to reach them is by taking a bus from the JR Beppu Station.

The buses run frequently, and the fare is very affordable. An amusement park is adjacent to the hells, featuring rides and attractions themed around the underworld.

Interesting facts about Beppu and the Nine Hells

The primary and most obvious selling point of visiting the Hells of Beppu is the Hells themselves. An undeniably popular tourist attraction, you can visit each to admire the surrounding scenic beauty while also observing the various punishments and torture inflicted on the sinners here. It will take around two hours to explore the circles of hell fully.

Beppu Sand Beach is in the surrounding area. Relax at Beppu Sand Beach and get partially submerged under the black sand, naturally heated to over 40 degrees by the geothermal waters below. It’s known to have many health benefits, including easing joint pain and promoting relaxation for stress relief.

You could also stick to the theme and visit the Jigoku Onsen Museum for a well-rounded and enriching visit to the area. At the museum, you can learn more about the science and geography of the hot springs, as well as delve into the culture and history of Beppu.

What are the Hells of Beppu?

1. Sea Hell (Umi Jigoku)

The Sea Hell of Beppu, or Umi Jigoku, is the Beppu Hell’s largest and most severe circle. Created over a thousand years ago, it is a geothermal area full of hot springs and steaming vents known for its bright cobalt-blue water.

The Sea Hell is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Beppu. The springs and steaming vents create an exciting and unique landscape, and the bright blue water is a sight to behold.

To make the most of Sea Hell, take a moment to soak your feet in the hot spring foot bath. Or, treat yourself to a local delicacy: Jigoku-Mushi steamed pudding and poached eggs cooked from hell-steam.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Japan & Things to Do

2. Mountain Hell (Yama Jigoku)

Mountain Hell is the most dangerous, home to many vicious creatures that prey on the damned. Visitors are advised not to venture into this area alone, as it’s easy to get lost among the twisting labyrinth of tunnels. It is said that those who have their heads shaved as punishment will be sent to this hell.

The area is full of sulfurous onsen and geysers, and it’s said that the screams of the damned can be heard echoing through the valley. This hell is known for its hot springs and geysers, reaching temperatures up to a boiling point. The waters are said to have healing properties, so it’s the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring the other hells.

See Related: Best Japan Travel Hacks: Travel Tips for Visiting

3. Cooking Pot Hell (Kamado Jigoku)

Sculptures at Cooking Pot Hell
RachelH_ / FlickrCC BY 2.0.

Cooking Pot Hell consists of several colorful boiling ponds and is reserved for those who commit heinous crimes such as murder or treason. Cooking Pot Hell is the perfect spot for foodies, being one of the best hells of Beppu, to enjoy snacks cooked by steam from the hot springs.

Enjoy various snacks cooked uniquely while being overlooked by the red demon statue that guards the entrance and overlooks all the action. Or, take it easy from a busy day of sightseeing and relax in a foot bath while clearing your sinuses with hot spring steam.

4. White Pond Hell (Shiraike Jigoku)

The white pond hell, or the Shiraike Jigoku, is known for its beautiful, milky white water. The pond is colored from salt, sodium silicate, calcium bicarbonate, and boric acid. The water can reach temperatures up to 85 degrees Celsius, and the sulfur smell can be overpowering.

If you’ve ever seen a Japanese garden, the first glimpse of this level of hell will remind you of it. On a still day, the garden is enveloped by a beautifully unique blanket of steam, giving it an eerily misty white appearance.

See Related: Reasons to Visit Japan This Year

5. Spout Hell (Tatsumaki Jigoku)

The Geyser (or ‘Spouting’) Hell, or Tatsumaki Jigoku, is aptly named because it consists of geysers that shoot boiling water high into the air, sometimes as far as 50 meters! The geysers here are consistent and erupt every 30-40 minutes for around 6-10 minutes each time.

Being the hottest hell, with waters reaching 150 degrees (celsius), you’ll be glad to know a stone plate has been perfectly placed to maintain its power. While you’ll still feel the heat from a distance and smell that sulfurous scent wafting towards you, you’ll get some great snaps without braving a scalding.

6. Blood Pond Hell (Chinoike Jigoku)

Blood Pond Hell is a deep red color, hence its uninviting name. Legend has it that the blood of lost sinners boils here. This circle of hell achieves such a striking color from the rich presence of magnesium oxide and iron oxide in the water. 

If you can only visit one of these seven locations, make it this one because the color of the water is striking and makes a memorable impact. It’s also the oldest option out of all the hells of Beppu.

One of the best things to do in Blood Pond Hell is to watch the steam rise off the boiling water. It’s a mesmerizing sight, and it’s also said to have therapeutic properties.

7. Crocodile Hell (Oniyama Jigoku)

Crocodile Hell is the most popular of the Hells in Beppu. It’s a geothermal area known for its steam and hot water springs. 

This circle of hell gets its name from a collection of around 70 crocodiles that live there, although the welfare of these animals has come under constant scrutiny from guests over the years. It’s a salt spring that generates lots of steam pressure – so much so that it could power one of those old steam-powered automobiles.

What to Eat in Beppu

While there’s no one “right” answer for what to eat in Beppu, the city is famed for its delicious seafood and unique local delicacies. Some popular dishes include unagi (freshwater eel), ikura (salmon roe), and the regional specialty, oden (a one-pot stew). Be sure to check out some of the excellent restaurants in town and enjoy a taste of Japanese cuisine at its finest!

Some of the best dishes to try in Beppu include:

  • Sushi: Beppu is home to some of the best sushi in Japan. Some of the best sushi in the area can be ordered at Kamesho Kurukuru Sushi restaurant.
  • Ramen: Beppu is also famous for its ramen. Kogetsu Restaurant specializes in cold ramen for those sweltering Japanese summers, and Taiho Ramen is a popular spot for traditional Kurume ramen.
  • Okonomiyaki: This savory Japanese pancake is a must-try while in Beppu. Head to Bari Bari for some of the best okonomiyaki you’ll eat in Beppu.
  • Yakisoba: Another must-try dish while in Beppu is yakisoba. Restaurant Toyoken is miles ahead of other restaurants in this area if you want to try the very best of this stir-fried noodle dish.

For something more unique, head to the Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center in the Kanawa District and cook your food with hell steam. You can rent your steam chamber to cook your food and see how the mineral-laden steam brings out the flavors of the food like nothing you’ve experienced before.

Hells of Beppu vs. Other Hot Springs Destinations in Japan

Chinoike jigoku in Hells of Beppu
M・H / Adobe Stock

Regarding hot springs destinations in Japan, the Hells of Beppu stand out. Its sulfurous waters and boiling geysers make it one of the country’s most unique and fascinating places.

Compared to other hot springs destinations in Japan, the Hells of Beppu are definitely more extreme. If you’re looking for a more relaxing and therapeutic experience, you might want to consider one of the other options. Read more about places to stay in Beppu.

Hakone, for example, is a popular onsen town serving an impressive variety of options, from luxurious private baths in local ryokans to exhilarating onsen theme parks.

Moreover, being only 1.5 hours from the country’s capital, Tokyo, it makes for a brilliantly relaxing day trip out of the hustle and bustle of the most populous city in the world.

Or, you could head to the golden waters of Matusiro-sou in Matsushiro, Nagano. One of the most famous spa retreats for local Japanese people, it’s hailed as a healing destination for the rich iron deposits in the water that seep into its natural hot springs.

FAQs

Where Can I Find Hells of Beppu?

The Hells of Beppu is a group of hot springs located in Beppu, on the island of Kyushu in Japan. They are scattered into two districts: five in the Kannawa District and two in the Shibaseki District.

Is the Nightlife in Beppu Worth Visiting?

Yes, the nightlife in Beppu is worth visiting. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from in the area, and something always happens no matter what time of night you visit. The locals are amiable and welcoming, so it’s a great place to meet people and have a good time.

Is Beppu Tattoo Friendly?

Many hot springs throughout Japan still see tattoos as taboo due to their connection with the Yakuza and will refuse entry to patrons with any ink on their skin. However, you’ll find attitudes are changing throughout the country, and many hot springs don’t see it as an issue.

In Beppu, you’ll find that most hot springs will let you in regardless of any tattoos you might be sporting. It’s worth checking ahead to the specific hot spring you want to visit to see which side of the fence they sit on to avoid potential disappointment on arrival.

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Lisa Ward
WRITTEN BY

Lisa Ward

Lisa Ward is a travel writer based in Jersey. She loves hiking and adventure travel and has hiked to Everest Base Camp and Machu Picchu, as well as through Patagonia and up several volcanoes across the world. Lisa cycled down Death Road in Bolivia, went canyoneering in Costa Rica, climbed canopies in Honduras. That school trip to Honduras sparked Lisa’s interest in the underwater world. She has since undergone basic training in biological research concerning marine conservation, most notably that of coral reefs. She is a PADI qualified Rescue Diver with a specialty in underwater photography. So far, she has dived in Jersey, Honduras, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef.

After gaining her law degree and falling into the world of finance, Lisa gained a qualification in digital marketing before deciding to take the leap into writing full time. Lisa is also a trained English Language tutor with a TEFL qualification and specialty qualifications in teaching online and 1-1. Other interests include playing the clarinet, which Lisa played in orchestras from the age of 10 to 19, martial arts (black belt in karate), and quite literally anything outdoors.

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