Weekend in Beppu: Explore Japan’s Onsen Capital

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Having stayed in Japan for over 4 years, I travelled prolifically across the length and breadth of this beautiful archipelago. Although it’s true that Japan is very different from most countries, like a few other countries, I believe Japan’s small-towns and their country-sides are way more picturesque than the mega-cities. One of them is Beppu – a small-town in the Kyushu island of Japan. Spending a few days or even just a weekend in Beppu is both relaxing as well as fulfilling.

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Located in Oita prefecture, of Kyushu island, Beppu has gained popularity primarily as a city full of onsen-resorts. Beppu, combined with its surrounding areas, is the largest yielder of hot spring water in Japan!

(Onsen = hot spring geysers in Japanese)

But Beppu is not only about hot spring geysers. There are plenty of other things to do, places to see and delicacies to try that will make your weekend in Beppu memorable and cherishable. Here are some of the top things to try while you are in Beppu.

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Weekend in Beppu

places to visit, things to do, delicacies to try… and more…

Jigoku Meguri – take a tour of the “Hells of Beppu

Beppu has more hot-spring-water gushing from the ground than anywhere else in Japan. But, not all that water is for bathing! The most spectacular of the hot pools, boiling mud and geysers make up the “8 Hells of Beppu” and are for viewing rather than soaking in.

As the name suggests, these hot-ponds look something like the imaginative-afterlife. They are too hot and dangerous for bathing but are considered sites of scenic beauty.

All of the 8 hot ponds/geysers have different colours of water/mud oozing out of them. Its a real spectacle to watch – something that you will rarely find anywhere else on the planet. ? ?

Try a “sand bath

Personally, the most unique experience that Beppu gave me was the sand bath!! I had never thought that I will be buried under a pool of sand; and that it will actually be an awesome experience!!

There are many sand-baths in Beppu, but one of the best places is at Shoningahama Beach. This is right on the coast, where the sand is heated by the hot-spring waters which bubble beneath the surface.

A sand bath is one of the best ways to relax after a hectic week! [1]

People flock here to be buried up to their necks in the sand, and this is said to have thermal properties which make the body more relaxed and soothe aches and pains.

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Enjoy marine-life at Umitamago Aquarium

This small-and-cute aquarium is the best for some really amazing Dolphin shows. Although I have been to the largest aquarium in the world (Osaka), but this one had its own cute charm. It is one of the most beautiful aquariums in Japan, not just because of its architecture, but also the species of sea life kept in it.

Dolphins are some of the most gracious mammals in the world. It is always a pleasure to watch the dolphins perform, and while enjoying your weekend in Beppu, don’t forget to make your way to Umitamago Aquarium for some thrilling dolphin performances.

dolphin show in Beppu
That’s one of the best performances I have ever seen!

Explore the Mt. Takasaki Wild Monkey Park

This unique park, actually a reserve forest, is home to more than 1,500 wild Japanese monkeys (macaques), who spend most of their days roaming the mountain’s steep, forested grounds.

The best part is, being a monkey reserve, there are no nets or fences separating you from them. You can wander among them at will, look them in the eye or try to touch them. Just don’t feed them!

Takasakiyama Monkey Park Beppu Japan

Go on thrilling rides at Kijima Kogen Park

This is a relatively new attraction in Beppu. Not only is the amusement park full of thrilling rides to pump up your adrenaline, but there are also many kids-play-areas – making it a perfect family outing.

? Beppu-Nagasaki Road trip – one of the most picturesque routes in Kyushu

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See Beppu” from Yukumeri observatory

A rather small one, Yukemuri Observatory is the best place to look at real Beppu. From the deck, you can see steam rising from every crack on the earth’s surface. This is the place to photograph the “Iconic Beppu” shot. ? ?

beppu city japan
Steam rising from natural hot springs in Beppu [2]

Embark on an “African Safari” in Japan!

This one is the most memorable thing I did in Beppu. I was seriously surprised to learn that there is an “African Safari” in Japan!! To be honest, initially I thought it will be just like a zoo. But, I was wrong! So very wrong!

We ended up spending almost an entire day there. After taking the safari ride on the cute-little animal-shaped buses, we went to the petting-zoo section where you can play with animal cubs – including a lion cub!! ? ?

African Safari in Beppu
That’s us with a Beautiful Lion Cub ! ? ?

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Try the local delicacies – “toriten” & “onsen steamed eggs

Your weekend in Beppu, or for-that-matter, any trip to Beppu or Oita is incomplete without tasting the local toriten chicken tempura and hell steamed eggs. It is believed by many that tempura-style fried chicken (“toriten”) originates from Oita/Beppu. And hence it definitely makes sense to try out the authentic! Especially, for any chicken-loving-Indian (like me), Oita’s toriten was heaven!

And while you are here, why not try some boiled eggs cooked by dipping then in the hot-springs! Now that’s some eco-friendly and natural way of cooking!

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