So we moved on to Beppu.
Activity 13: The renowned Beppu Hells.
The hot spring Hells are a nationally designated "Place of Scenic Beauty" in the onsen town of Beppu, Oita, Japan and they are more for viewing than bathing purposes.
There are admission charges for each Hell though parking is free. It is advisable to drive to each Hell although you can reach the different ones by foot.
Umi Jigoku (海地獄) “Sea Hell” –This is one of my personal favorite Hells and the largest. The main attraction here is the beautiful cobalt blue pond of boiling water, which stands at 200 meters deep. We were most impressed with this because of the shade of blue.
Shirake Jigoku (白池地獄) “White pond Hell”– It is called so because of the chalky white appearance of the water. This large pond is surrounded by a peaceful Japanese garden. There is a small aquarium of piranha which you will pass before coming to the pond.
Chinoike Jigoku (血の池地獄) “Blood pond Hell” – The clay in the “Blood Pond” here is so hot that the steam is red. We had expected the water to be a lot redder actually. Haha.
Within the compounds of each Hell, there were foot baths where you could soak your feet in. Vending machines which sold small towels stationed there in case you came unprepared. We bought some bath salts which are believed to have healing qualities.
Activity 14: Steamed dishes from Hell's kitchen
There were a lot more ingredients to choose from but we just had breakfast and weren't able to eat much. Food tickets were purchased from a vending machine and then we handed the tickets to the staff who then placed them in these steaming baskets.
We were allocated a steaming station and the children brought the food in. Armed with gloves and with the guidance of the staff, C and Brion placed and removed the food carefully. We picked food that cooked quickly so they were ready within 15 minutes.
Activity 14: Yufuin Floral Village
It's a tiny village but it draws crowd from all over. There were so many tourists there that it was almost impossible to take a decent picture of the place.
The buildings were designed to look like those in the Cotswolds, an area of England renowned for its beauty. I learned that several scenes from the movies, Harry Potter, were filmed here.
Activity 15: Exploring Beppu
Exploring Beppu city on foot. There was a fair bit of walking for our trip and we were clocking between 10 to 13 thousand steps every day. Beppu is home to more than 2000 onsen and it wasn't all too surprising to find ourselves a bubbling splash anywhere.
Activity 15: Hot sand baths
In a place known for its onsen, we did what the locals did - had a hot sand bath - this was by far our most unique way of taking a hot bath.
For a small fee, we were given a small towel and a yukata. Then head to the gender-segregated changing rooms to change into your yukata. We were called down to the sand pit and the sand ladies would proceed to bury us. We felt the weight of the sand quickly. It was cold so the heat from the sand was a relief against our skin. The volcanic sand is said to be 3 or 4 times more beneficial than a traditional bath.
After a 10-minutes bath, we emerged looking like we had gone swimming; our yukata were soaked and we had enough sand on us to make our own little beach. Then it was a quick run to the showers to rinse off the sand. There was an onsen in the toilet where we took a dip before changing back into our clothes. Verdict: refreshed!
Activity 16: picking mandarin oranges.
Our naughty girl who had so much fun running up and down the orchard in search of the plum orange fruit. Her bagful of mandarin oranges!
For residents in Fukuoka city, the closest fruit farm would be Taiyo-en. It is located an hour out. Open season is from October to December and the farm offers fruit picking. There are different types of mikan (mandarin oranges) which can be peeled easily. The oranges were juicy, and there weren't any seeds in them. How lovely would it be if we could come out here to get our stash for the Lunar New Year.
Activity 18: Shopping
This wasn't even half of our shopping loot! There were ample opportunities to shop at every pit stop and we got a little something along the way. :)
This concludes our vacation. Did we have fun? You bet! Would we do another road trip in Japan? This is almost a positive "Yes" and we might even cover the south next time. Is Kyushu an area we would visit again? Sure! :)
Signing off now,