I traveled to 九州 (KYUSHU) for 湯治 (TOUJI) during the big holiday in Japan called “Golden Week”.
What is 湯治 (TOUJI)?: Your first experience of TOUJI – Enjoy different way of ONSEN trip
I started this travel from 大分県 (OITA Prefecture), a holy place of ONSEN and also called “ONSEN Prefecture”. 別府 (BEPPU) is the representing ONSEN place in OITA Prefecture which has the Japan’s biggest yield of ONSEN.
KYUSHU has plentiful ONSEN and each place has unique characteristics. In addition, the public transportation system is well advanced so that traveling around KYUSHU is very convenient and reasonable. The itinerary of my trip was as below.
別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN), OITA Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 1
別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN), OITA Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 2
別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN), OITA Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 3
湯布院温泉 (YUFUIN ONSEN), OITA Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 4
黒川温泉 (KUROKAWA ONSEN) ~ 三愛高原 (SAN’AI KOUGEN) ~ 阿蘇 (ASO), KUMAMOTO Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 5 – vol 1
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 5 – vol 2
高千穂温泉 (TAKACHIHO ONSEN), MIYAZAKI Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 6
嬉野温泉 (URESHINO ONSEN), SAGA Prefecture
Read this article: My nomad-style TOUJI trip to KYUSHU – DAY 7
BEPPU has the Japan’s largest number of spring source and the biggest yield of ONSEN.
There are 3000 ONSEN places in Japan and among them, BEPPU has by far the largest number of spring source and the biggest yield of ONSEN.
Ranking of the number of spring source
Ranking of yield
BEPPU has 7 types of “Medical ONSEN” among 10 registered in Japan, and thus it’s a precious place where you can bathe in such many types of ONSEN in one place. Depending on your health condition or diseases / injuries you want to cure, you can choose your best fit ONSEN. BEPPU is one of the best places for TOUJI in Japan.
When you visit BEPPU, I would recommend to try 八湯巡り (HATTOU MEGURI). That is a general term of 8 representing ONSEN in BEPPU City. These 8 ONSEN places prospered as each respective ONSEN place and the oldest one started operation in 700’s. After MEIJI Period, the advancement of public transportation system made these ONSEN places further prospered. During TAISHO Period, these 8 ONSEN places plus YUFUIN and TSUKAHARA were called “別府十湯 (BEPPU JUTTO / BEPPU 10 ONSENs)”. And at the present day through some municipal mergers, people call it “別府八湯 (BEPPU HATTO / BEPPU 8 ONSENs)”. Each of these 8 ONSEN places in BEPPU City has unique characteristics in spring quality, scenery, and the way of bathing, so that you can enjoy variety of their attractiveness. BEPPU is a heaven of ONSEN.
Here is the summarized introduction of each 8 ONSENs in BEPPU.
1. 浜脇温泉 (HAMAWAKI ONSEN)
HAMAWAKI ONSEN is the origin of BEPPU ONSEN. The name “HAMAWAKI” comes from its ONSEN flowing (湧き / WAKI) from the beach (浜 / HAMA). Along with 八幡朝見神社 (HACHIMAN ASAMI Shrine) which was founded in the beginning of KAMAKURA Period, it has drastically prospered as a shrine town as well as a port during EDO Period. Even at the present day, there are a lot of old hotels and buildings remain in the town.
In 1991, a multi-purpose ONSEN facility “湯都ピア浜脇 (Utopia HAMAWAKI)” was opened, and since then, this town itself is being developed drastically. Other than this facility, there are a lot of small scale public bath houses in this town. The spring quality is hydrogen carbonate / chloride spring etc.
2. 別府温泉 (BEPPU ONSEN)
It is described in the history book of 8th century, and became popular during EDO Period. At MEIJI Period, the number of spring source, ONSEN hotels, and ONSEN facilities drastically increased accompanied with the opening of BEPPU Port and railway systems as well as the advancement of drilling technology. Also through TAISHO and SHOWA Periods, more and more ONSEN facilities kept opening and it became the representing place of “別府八湯 (BEPPU HATTO / BEPPU 8 ONSENs)”.
There’s the symbolic public bath “竹瓦温泉 (TAKEGAWARA ONSEN)” in this town. An ONSEN festival held in April every year is a very famous festival which most of local people gather. The spring quality is simple spring / carbon dioxide spring / hydrogen carbonate spring etc.
3. 亀川温泉 (KAMEGAWA ONSEN)
As described in a travelog in EDO Period, sand beach where ONSEN is springing out has been the highlight of this KAMEGAWA ONSEN. It has prospered as a northern gateway of BEPPU and a lot of people have stopped by this 湯治場 (TOUJI BA) to heal their fatigue.
There is 別府海浜砂湯 (BEPPU KAIHIN SUNAYU / BEPPU Seaside sand ONSEN) at the 上人ヶ浜公園 (SHONINGAHAMA Park) where 一遍上人 (IPPEN SHONIN / IPPEN Holy Priest) landed, and there are also a lot of medical facilities and recreational facilities utilizing ONSEN around here. The spring quality is sodium / chloride spring.
4. 鉄輪温泉 (KAN’NAWA ONSEN)
It’s located between BEPPU city center and 明礬温泉 (MYOBAN ONSEN). This KAN’NAWA ONSEN is famous for unique scenery of steam rising from ONSEN which is the most symbolic scenery in BEPPU. This unique scenery is registered as a National Important Cultural Landscape together with the one in MYOBAN ONSEN.
As you can easily imagine from its steam rising, the temperature of ONSEN here is so high. Since there are a lot of steam coming out from ONSEN, this steam is been utilized for cooking as well as self-catering at TOUJI stay, which is called “地獄釜 (JIGOKU GAMA)”.
A municipal public bath “鉄輪むし湯 (KAN’NAWA MUSHIYU)” is located at the center of this district, and there are a lot of other public bathes, ONSEN hotels, and gift shops lined up along the street.
In addition, its unique style lodging facility “貸間旅館 (KASHIMA RYOKAN)”, which serves only room without any other service like meal and bed making, is still active.
This KAN’NAWA ONSEN is the representing ONSEN spot at BEPPU where a lot of people keep visiting. The spring quality is simple spring / chloride spring / carbonate spring containing iron / sulfate spring.
5. 観海寺温泉 (KANKAIJI ONSEN)
It was discovered at KAMAKURA Period. As described in the local chronicles at EDO Period as “it’s inconvenient to visit KANKAIJI but a lot of people visit there to view its amazing scenery”, it’s located on a high place, 150m above sea level, so that it has the best view of BEPPU Bay.
After the fire accident in 1931, it had been restored and developed rapidly. At the present day, it has become the representing leisure spot in BEPPU with a lot of large scale resort hotels. Some hotels use the geothermal energy for light and heater. The spring quality is simple spring / hydrogen carbonate spring.
6. 堀田温泉 (HORITA ONSEN)
It was opened as a TOUJI BA during EDO Period. Since it’s located on the way to 湯布院 (YUFUIN), 日田 (HITA), and 太宰府 (DAZAIFU), a lot of travellers stopped by this place to heal their fatigue. Even at the present day, a lot of steam is rising from rice fields and valley, and that plentiful ONSEN is provided to the center of city as well. The spring quality is sulfur spring / acidic spring.
7. 柴石温泉 (SHIBASEKI ONSEN)
It is said that 醍醐天皇 (Emperor DAIGO) in 895 and 後冷泉天皇 (Emperor GOREIZEI) in 1044 visited this place to cure their diseases. It is named as 柴石温泉 (SHIBASEKI ONSEN) as a fossil (化石 SEKI) of brushwood (柴 SHIBA) was discovered during EDO Period.
The municipal SHIBASEKI ONSEN was renewed as “ふれあい・やすらぎ温泉地 (FUREAI YASURAGI ONSEN CHI)” where you can enjoy 2 different ONSEN, outdoor bathes, steam bathes. It is registered as a 国民温泉保養地 (National Hot Spring Health Resort) together with 鉄輪温泉 (KAN’NAWA ONSEN) and 明礬温泉 (MYOBAN ONSEN). Its forest promenade surrounded by natural scenery is worth visiting. The spring quality is iron containing spring / sulfate spring.
8. 明礬温泉 (MYOBAN ONSEN)
It is located on a high place which is 400m above sea level. The scenery of steam rising from thatched cottages is really photogenic. It had the Japan’s largest yield of 明ばん (MYOBAN / Alum) at EDO Period, and at the same time, it prospered as a TOUJI BA.
At the present day, it is famous for its specialty “湯の花 (YUNOHANA / mineral encrustations left by hot spring)” as well as ザボン湯 (ZABON YU / ONSEN with shaddock) which you can enjoy the citrus flavor and makes your skin very smooth. Many of ONSEN here is cloudy color as it contains colloidal sulfur. The spring quality is acidic spring / sulfur spring / aluminium containing spring.
Among 8 ONSENs in BEPPU, 鉄輪 (KAN’NAWA), 明礬 (MYOBAN), and 柴石 (SHIBASEKI) are registered as National Hot Spring Health Resort, and this proves BEPPU has a lot of powerful ONSEN.
Now, let’s visit and enjoy variety of ONSEN in this “ONSEN Heaven”, BEPPU!!