Beppu: Exploring the Exciting Hot Springs *RERUN
Beppu is Japan's leading hot spring town, both in terms of volume of water flow and the number of different spas. Due to the rising vapors and bubbling water, the area was once referred to as "hell," but over the generations local people used their imagination and initiative to create a spa heaven. Eight of the town's spas are particularly famous, and each is steeped in its own culture. We experienced the wealth of Beppu's healing waters.

Aburaya Kumahachi

The father of tourism in Beppu, Aburaya came up with various ideas to bring in visitors. In 1925, he created a famous slogan to advertise the town; "Fuji for the Mountains, Setouchi for the Sea, but for the spas, come to Beppu." He placed a sign bearing the slogan at the top of Mt. Fuji, instantly propelling the town to nationwide fame. Another of Aburaya's ideas was the Jigoku-meguri, which means touring the hells, an activity still popular today. The hells include Sea Hell, which gushes with blue water, the color resulting of dissolved iron sulfate. The Pond of Blood Hell is bright red due to iron oxide. A 2.5-hour tour of the Hells is a thrilling way to experience the variety of natural spas in Beppu.

Yunohana, A Natural Bathing Powder

Myoban Spa, a small hamlet of around 20 thatched-roofed buildings, sits at an altitude of 400 meters. Local people still produce the natural bathing powder Yunohana, using traditional production techniques that date back to Japan's pre-modern period. The crystals result from a chemical reaction between the vapor from the steam and earth known as "blue clay." The crystals grow slowly at a rate of just one millimeter every day. Dissolving Yunohana in your bath is reportedly good for chills and stiff shoulders.

Sunayu (Sand Bath)

Kamegawa hot springs are famous for its Sunayu, or sandbath. Sand wet with the onsen water is packed all around the bather's body. The weight of the sand is said to have massaging properties. Shoveling sand is the job of specially-trained ladies known as Sunakake-san. They keep the sand at around 42 degrees Celsius, which is generally the most comfortable temperature. The sand is packed in various ways and adjusted according to the bather's condition, depending, for example, on whether they have sore shoulders or a bad back.