Beppu, Japan

We arrive in Beppu on a sunny morning with music playing on the pier. There is a group of High School students waving flags welcoming us to Beppu and they take turns on the microphone giving us interesting information about the region which is like the Rotorua of Japan. This is followed by a dance performance with musicians. It is great to see the young people of Japan so involved in tourism and taking great pride in welcoming the world back for a visit. All the students we have encountered have been spontaneously friendly and so courteous.

The day starts with a bus tour in the usual way except that 45 people have made their way onto the #18 bus and the Japanese lady does three counts because there are only supposed to be 40 and one couple who arrived a little late to the bus sees the gentleman complaining because he cannot sit by his wife! But the lovely Japanese guide deals with it all with grace and patience.

It is Saturday and it is a little busy with families having outings and taking their children to play in the parks and ride their bikes. Beppu’s population is only 113,000 in an area of 125 square kilometers. It is a geothermal area famous for its Onsens which are hot springs. There are 28,000 Onsen pools in Japan and 2,300 here in Beppu. There are ten different kinds of Onsens and the idea is that you firstly wash in the shower and then hop naked into the Onsen to let your body soak in the minerals which are very good for health and the skin. You are warned to cover all tattoos so that you do not offend anyone. I am relieved that the one in charge of the B’s and bathrooms is not in the mood to strip off today and soak in ze Onsen because I am not feeling like joining the Saturday throng to join him and it is too hot anyway. Mind you, it is possible to book private pools if they are available. The water and steam from the Onsen is also used to cook food.

Apparently when we arrive at the Onsen we can get a tasting of Saki (just what we need at 11 am but then we have had a morning tea of whiskey in Scotland, Guinness in Ireland and Cassis in France – we will just go with the flow!!!)

There is the smell of sulphur in the air as our bus makes its way up the hill passing through residential areas where steam is pouring out of the ground through dozens of vents. We arrive at the Myoban Yunosato Onsen where the lady tells us her family is the 6th generation to run the business. The ground beneath our feet is very warm to touch and the thatched huts are there to allow the mineral content to develop and be extracted to make skin products. The thatched huts allow the steam to escape.

As we walk down the path to go back to the bus a Japanese lady asks me to take a photo of her man and herself – I oblige. But as I said, the Japanese always repay a favor so she says she will “take photo of you.” The boss begrudgingly agrees to having one photo taken a day and apparently this has already been ticked off but he agrees. Now this dear lady wants the perfect photo – she tells us where to stand – how far apart, where to look – landscape, portrait and then she moves us to take more! While all this is going on there are about ten people also wanting a photo at that spot but they understand what is going on and joke with us about the photo shoot!

On we go to Chinoike Jigoku which is a blood-red hot spring, one of the city’s famed “Hells” which is rich in iron oxide. The sign says “Bloody Hot Pool”. Adjacent to the Bloody Hot Pool was a lovely waterfall and garden. The sun was shining on the beautiful specimens of Japanese red Maple trees which were glistening in the light. Down the road from this and on the side of the hill is a huge display of azalea bushes in different colored hues and it is magnificent.

It is a beautiful afternoon here in this area rich in geysers, mud pools and hot springs and we have a walk in the park after lunch and relax on the verandah watching families having fun together in the lovely grassy area at the port. I am thinking of sending Wayne another email about how great it would be to have a well designed cruise ship port in Auckland. Music is playing outside the Customs Hall where the friendly immaculately dressed men are checking our passports and making sure an apple hasn’t fallen into the bag! We move on to Hiroshima tomorrow and we have a big day ahead. Right now Taylor Swift is Shaking It Up on the pier and I feel like dancing! The boss has just gone to a lecture on astronomy but honestly, my brain just won’t cope with that after my day in this steaming place. I guess he will come back seeing stars!

Finally, I want to tell you something that came up in the lecture last evening on Japanese Culture. The word for city is “Shi-ti” which is a little unfortunate. The lecturer, an American guy married to a Japanese lady has been living here for many years and involved hosting business delegations from overseas and he told the story of hosting some Americans and the Japanese business speaker was talking about the Shi-ti parks, the Shi-ti builders and buildings and so on it went. At the end of the presentation the Americans were dumbfounded that this guy would speak like that about things going on in his City!! But he wasn’t being disrespectful because places were named “Shi-ti Towers” and “Shi-ti Hotel”. You do have to listen very carefully at times and get your brain into gear to figure out what is being said which is why you do not need Saki for morning tea!

The evening finishes with a concert “Saturday Night at the Movies” and I send the boss to the theatre to save a seat while I go elsewhere. On entering the dimly lit theatre I am searching for a grey-haired man with a spare seat beside him but there about 500 such men to choose from which tells you the age group of travelers on this ship!

The beautiful Japanese Maple trees are everywhere
The students with their instruments in the park at the Port in Beppu
Viking Orion docked at the port in Beppu
Japanese ladies soaking their feet in a foot bath at the Onsen
Steam vents all over the city amongst the residential areas
Vern and I at the Onsen Park – we didn’t go to soak in the pool!
My new Japanese friend – these little mascots are everywhere
Beautiful azalea bushes decorate the hillside
The “Bloody Hot Pool”

2 thoughts on “Beppu, Japan

  1. Christine Jack

    Shannon fascinating Beppu what with it’s vibrant Spring colours of the red Maple & magnificent hillsides of Azaleas & the belching steam vents & smells of NZs own Rotorua. All bringing so much joy reflected in super happy photos.
    Thanks for sharing.


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