Seven Hells in Oita
In Buddhism, it is said that humans keep reincarnating until they achieve enlightenment. During this cycle of death and rebirth, they are sent to one of six places for each life depending on what they have done in the previous life, and one of them is “Jigoku” (so-called “Hell” in English). In Jigoku, people suffer various punishments; getting their body broken apart because of iron tiles falling on them or getting bitten and killed by a dog that has burning teeth. This is why people are afraid of Jigoku and they try to do good things during their lifetime.
You may be thinking this is just an old tale of one religion in one country. However, Jigoku really exists in Oita, Japan but without the punishments. Rather, it does sounds strange, but it is a place to relax. In Beppu, Oita, there have been steam, hot water and clay coming out from the ground since more than 1000 years ago, which means that the whole city is like a huge hot spring. People were afraid of and stayed away from the area, so they called it Jigoku. Now there are seven hot springs that you can visit and sight see, although it is not possible bathe in the hot springs since the water temperature is too high. At these hot springs, four of them have foot baths nearby where the water is nicely heated by the hot spring.
1. Chinoike Jigoku (Bloody Hell Pond)
As the name refers, the color of this hot spring is red. This is because of the clay at the bottom that contains iron oxide and magnesium oxide.
2. Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell)
In contrast to its name, the color of this hot spring is beautiful cobalt blue, because a lot of iron sulfate is dissolved. This rather makes it look like heaven.
Here is also famous for Umi Jigoku Pudding, which is steamed using the heat of Umi Jigoku.
3. Oniishibouzu Jigoku
Near Umi Jigoku, you can watch the clay boiling at Oniishibouzu Jigoku.
While you can take footbath as well as at those two hot springs above, there is also Onsen facility where you can bathe.
4. Tatsumaki Jigoku (Tornado Hell)
This is a geyser that ejects steam and hot water. The top is covered but it is said the pressure is so strong that it can reach up until about 30 meters high. This geyser is designated as a national monument in Japan.
5. Shiraike Jigoku (White Pond Hell)
At Shiraike Jigoku water pressure and temperature decrease when the hot water runs into the pond, making the color of the hot spring milky blue.
6. Oniyama Jigoku (Ogre Mountain Hell)
Oniyama Jigoku is probably the most interesting one, where you can see something you would never expect. Unlike typical hot spring, this is more like a park or a museum. And what surprises you, there are 80 crocodiles. They make use of the heat of the ground to make the environment comfortable enough for those crocodiles to live. They sometimes hiss at you, which is quite scary, so it might be the most Jigoku-like hot spring.
7. Kamado Jigoku (Cooking Pot Hell)
Kamado Jigoku is a spot where you can see 6 kinds of small hot springs at one place. It was named after the tradition that people used to cook rice using the heat of the hot spring at occasion of festivals.
In Japan, there are many places that are famous for hot springs throughout the country. Among those, Beppu, Oita is very unique because it is not just a city of spas, but it is also full of entertaining spots. Come to Jigoku in Beppu not to suffer but enjoy and get refreshed!
Maps in English, Chinese and Korean and more details: http://www.beppu-jigoku.com/index.html
Author: Yurika Haneda