Explore Beppu: From Steamy Hot Springs to Delicious Local Cuisine

Explore Beppu: From Steamy Hot Springs to Delicious Local Cuisine

Beppu Onsen is home to the most hot springs in the world and the greatest amount of hot spring water in Japan, making it a top destination for hot spring lovers. This guide offers an easy look at the famous Hells of Beppu, the best onsen spots for a visit, and a perfect day trip plan, plus more!

Beppu Onsen - Oita's Hot Spring Heaven

Beppu Onsen is a special part of Beppu, Oita Prefecture, known for its vast number of hot springs. It's recognized as one of the top hot spring regions globally, with the highest number of hot spring sources and the most abundant hot spring water in Japan.

In Beppu, you'll see steam gently rising into the air everywhere you go. The city offers not just traditional hot spring baths but also unique ones like sand and mud baths. With a rich history documented since the early 8th century, Beppu is celebrated as one of Japan's top three hot spring destinations.


Beppu cityscape with onsen houses and rising steam


Getting to Beppu Onsen

From Hakata, Fukuoka

Getting to Beppu from Fukuoka is a breeze! It's right next door to Oita. You can catch a direct express bus from Fukuoka Airport, which takes about two hours and fifteen minutes. Alternatively, you can hop on one of the two Limited Express Sonic trains that leave every hour from Hakata Station in central Fukuoka, getting you to Beppu in just about two hours.

You can also opt for a scenic ride on the Limited Express Yufuin no Mori, which is designed for sightseeing.


Yufuin no Mori Train to Beppu


From Osaka

Traveling from Osaka? You've got options! Catch a quick flight from Itami Airport (Osaka International Airport) to Oita Airport, which only takes about an hour. Remember, ticket prices might change depending on the time of year and the airline.

Prefer trains? You'll need to switch trains once. Start with the Nozomi or Sakura Shinkansen at JR Shin-Osaka Station, switch at Kokura Station, and then continue to Beppu Station on the Limited Express Sonic. The whole journey takes around four hours.

If you're not in a hurry, why not take a night ferry? The Ferry Sunflower leaves Osaka in the evening and arrives in Beppu the next morning. Prices start at around 11,200 yen for a one-way ticket and vary by season. There are also special deals like a roundtrip cruise that doesn't require a hotel stay in Beppu, priced at an attractive 10,000 yen.


Ferry "Sunflower" to Beppu


Traveling in Kyushu

By Train

Exploring Kyushu and its various prefectures like Kumamoto, Nagasaki, and Kagoshima becomes super easy with the JR Kyushu Rail Pass. This pass is a steal and comes in three types: All, Northern, and Southern Kyushu. Beppu falls under the All and Northern Kyushu categories.

Planning to check out multiple hot spring spots in Beppu and roam around the Oita and Kyushu areas? Consider renting a car for maximum flexibility and comfort.

By Bus

Kyushu's bus services are top-notch, often making it simpler to travel between cities by bus than by train.

The SUNQ Pass is a fantastic option for unlimited travel on both highway and local buses across Kyushu. It comes in four varieties: Northern Kyushu (3 days for 9,000 yen), Southern Kyushu (3 days for 8,000 yen), All of Kyushu (3 days for 11,000 yen), and All of Kyushu (4 days for 14,000 yen).

You can grab this pass at any major airport or bus terminal in Kyushu, making your travels smooth and easy.




Start Your Adventure Here! The Hells of Beppu Tour

The Hells of Beppu is an unforgettable journey through eight spectacular "hells" located in Beppu's must-see area. These extraordinary ponds shimmer in deep reds and brilliant cobalt blues, looking like they're from another world.

The name "Hells of Beppu" comes from the hot spring spouts that shoot out steam and thermal mud at a boiling 100 degrees Celsius. The steam rises with the water, turning it various colors due to the minerals in the springs, giving them a mystifying, almost spooky appearance.

These wonders are located in the Kannawa district. You'll see different hells here including Umijigoku ("Sea Hell"), with its stunning blue waters, and Oniishi Bozu Jigoku ("Monk's Hell"), where mud bubbles up with a soothing sound. Just a short five to ten-minute car ride away, you'll also find Chinoike Jigoku ("Blood Pond Hell") and Tatsumaki Jigoku ("Geyser Hell"), where mud shoots up at a sizzling 150 degrees Celsius.

In total, there are eight incredible hells to see, and you can even enjoy some footbath facilities.

If you'd like a convenient way to see all these sights, hop on the Hell Tour bus. These buses leave Beppu Station daily at 9:20 AM and 2:00 PM, offering a three-hour tour that's perfect for a day out.


Different hells of Beppu onsen


Jigokumushi - Hell-Steamed Delights

Jigokumushi, which means "hell steamed," is a unique cooking method from the area around the Hells of Beppu. This special way of cooking uses the hot springs' natural steam to cook ingredients together, bringing out their rich flavors without any extra oil or impurities.

The intense heat of the steam not only cleanses away any excess oil but also enhances the taste of the food. You can try this mouthwatering cuisine at the Hell Steaming Workshop Kannawa, where they invite you to bring your own ingredients, or at Chinetsu Kanko Labo Enma, which offers the bonus of enjoying a relaxing footbath while you eat your hell-steamed meal.

Jigokumushi Pudding

Alongside your jigokumushi meal, don't miss the Hell-Steamed Pudding, a delightful dessert crafted with the same steam from the hot springs. This special pudding is available at Okamotoya, located in the Myoban Onsen area. It's a sweet treat that perfectly complements the unique flavors of your steam-cooked meal.


Jigokumushi Pudding


Five Top Hot Springs in Beppu

After exploring the "hells," why not unwind in some of Beppu's incredible hot springs? Here are five top picks:

Takegawara Onsen (Beppu Onsen)

Takegawara Onsen is a treasure of Beppu Onsen, first opened in 1879 and rebuilt in its current form in 1938. The majestic wooden structure of the building feels like stepping back in time. Here, you can enjoy not just a classic hot spring soak but also unique sand baths.

This hot spring is open to everyone. The entrance fee is just 100 yen, and sand baths cost 1,030 yen. Plus, it's just a ten-minute walk from JR Beppu Station, making it super convenient to visit.


Takegawara Onsen


Suginoi Hotel (Kankaiji Onsen)

At Suginoi Hotel, you can relax in a hot spring while admiring a stunning view. The Tanayu, an open-air bath, offers a breathtaking, wide-angle view of Beppu Bay.

Inside the hotel, the Aqua Garden offers a variety of fun hot spring attractions, including a fountain show and the Float Healing Bath, where you can float effortlessly thanks to the high salt content in the water. These attractions are perfect for families and couples looking for a fun and relaxing experience.


Suginoi Hotel Beppu (Kankaiji Onsen)


Sand Baths (Kamegawa Onsen)

A visit to Beppu isn't complete without experiencing a sand bath. This unique bathing method involves being buried in sand that's been heated by the natural geothermal heat, warming your entire body. This not only boosts your blood circulation but also enhances your metabolism. After just fifteen minutes under the warm sand, you'll feel rejuvenated. You can enjoy this amazing experience at Beppu Kaihin Sunayu.


Sand Bath (Kamegawa Onsen)


Myoban Yunosato (Myoban Onsen)

Myoban Onsen is a historic area known for producing alum since the Edo period. Here, mineral deposits, which are used as natural bath salts, are produced during the alum manufacturing process. Myoban Yunosato is not only a place where these mineral bath salts are made but also sold directly to visitors. You can tour the charming thatched huts where the salts are made and even take a dip in the local hot springs.

There's also a restaurant where you can savor local Oita dishes and a shop offering original cosmetics made with these mineral bath salts. It's the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a bit of local culture.


Myoban Onsen Beppu


Mud Baths (Myoban Onsen)

At Beppu Onsen Hoyo Land, you can experience the unique and rare mud baths of Japan. These baths were formed by a perfect blend of fumarolic gas, layers of clay, and mineral-rich underground water, creating mud known for its benefits against ailments like rheumatism and skin conditions.

The center features several indoor hot springs and a mixed open-air bath, which includes barriers for privacy while allowing you to enjoy the naturally murky, mud-rich waters. If you prefer more privacy, you can always choose the indoor mud baths for your comfort.


Mud Bath Beppu


Top Stores in Beppu Onsen

Beppu is filled with charming general stores that add to the enjoyment of your visit.

Just a ten-minute walk from Beppu Station is SPICA, a boutique that showcases a delightful array of items including bags, daily essentials, and more, all sourced from Oita and Kyushu.

A bit farther from the city center, you'll find poche. This shop offers a tastefully curated selection of accessories, small items, and other lovely goods.

Beppu has recently gained recognition for its dynamic art scene as well. At SELECT BEPPU, you can purchase unique products created in collaboration with local artists and craftsmen. The store is set in a beautifully renovated Japanese house. The ground floor hosts the shop, while the second floor features a gallery space where you can enjoy artwork on traditional sliding screens, originally showcased at a Beppu art festival.


Local handicrafts in BEPPU SELECT


Amusement Facilities in Beppu Onsen

Kijima Kogen Park

If you find yourself with some spare time, make sure to head over to Kijima Kogen Park. The highlight here is the thrilling wooden roller coaster, built from 60,000 trees. It's an adventure that's worth experiencing at least once!

Aquarium Umitamago

Umitamago, also known as Oita Marine Palace Aquarium, is a wonderful place where you can admire various marine creatures up close. It's fun for visitors of all ages. Inside, there's a Touch Area where you can gently interact with starfish and sea cucumbers. Additionally, the art corner features illuminated water tanks that beautifully showcase the vibrant life within.


Kijima Kogen Park


4 Must-Try Local Dishes in Beppu

Toriten (Oita-Style Fried Chicken)

Toriten might remind you of karaage (fried chicken), but here's the twist: it's coated in flour instead of starch. Squeeze some kabosu (a local Oita citrus) over the chicken and dip it in soy or ponzu sauce for that extra zing. This dish is a favorite for its delightful taste and because it's surprisingly light on the stomach.

Reimen (Chilled Noodles)

While Morioka reimen from Iwate Prefecture might be well-known, Beppu offers its own special take on cold noodles. This dish became a local staple thanks to immigrants from the Korean peninsula who introduced their version of cold noodles after World War II. Adapted to fit Japanese tastes, Beppu's reimen includes a dashi stock soup topped with beef char siu. Each restaurant adds its own touch, so it's a fun idea to try different versions and see which one you like best.


Beppu's Reimen


Oita Bungo Beef

Oita, a region rich in natural beauty, is home to exceptionally tender beef that simply melts in your mouth. Oita Bungo Beef, a celebrated local brand, meets strict quality standards to earn its name. You can savor this premium beef grilled to perfection at Ichiriki or enjoy it as a succulent steak at Somuri.

Fresh Seafood

Being close to the sea, Oita offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Treat yourself to the local delights such as the hearty sekisaba (a type of mackerel), rich sekiaji (horse mackerel), flavorful shiroshita karei (a kind of flounder), and tender kuruma ebi (prawns). For a real taste of local cuisine, try these seafood specialties at a cozy izakaya (Japanese pub).


Oita Bungo Beef


A Perfect Two-Day Travel Itinerary in Beppu Onsen

Day One

Start your morning with a tour of the famous Hells of Beppu! For lunch, enjoy the local favorite, jigokumushi, which will delight your taste buds. Afterwards, take a relaxing break at Yohachiro Café & Sweets in the Kannawa area, where you can treat yourself to some delicious cake.

Spend your afternoon soaking in the unique sand baths at Beppu Kaihin Sunayu and the soothing mud baths at Beppu Onsen Hoyo Land. Cap off your day with a stay at Suginoi Hotel, where you can unwind with a stunning view of the surroundings.

Day Two

Spend your morning exploring the quaint general stores around Beppu, where you can find a variety of unique items. If you're looking for a more laid-back morning, consider a visit to Aquarium Umitamago or enjoy some thrilling rides at Kijima Kogen Park.

For lunch, head to Toyoken, the birthplace of toriten, and indulge in this famous Oita specialty. After lunch, make sure to visit Takegawara Onsen, conveniently located near Beppu Station, for a relaxing soak.

Enjoy Your Visit to Beppu Onsen!

Beppu is a wonderful place where the joys of hot springs blend seamlessly with cozy cafes, beautiful views, delightful shopping, and exciting activities. Make the most of your time in Beppu by immersing yourself in the rich local culture and savoring its fantastic cuisine!