After Matsuyama on Shikoku Island we went to Beppu in Kyushu. We took a train from Matsuyama to Yawatahama and a ferry from Yawatahama Port to get to Beppu. The journey to get to Beppu was difficult because the infrastructure was not equipped for travelers with heavy luggage. For instance, we were supposed to walk up and down an overpass with heavy luggage at the small local station at Yawatahama. However, my husband just carried the heavy suitcases over the railroad after seeing the railroad employees walking on the railroad while I carried carry-on bags through the overpass bridge. Like the Yawatahama station the Yawatahama port was rather poorly equipped. It did not have an elevator that would have allowed the people with heavy luggage to transport their luggage more easily. My husband carried the heavy suitcase while a port worker helped us by carrying another one up to the ferry. The ferry itself was a bit strange too. Unlike the ferries between Uno, Okayama, and Naoshima it did not have couches (presumably); instead, it had square spaces where some people might sleep probably because most passengers were crossing the sea together with their cars. Since sitting on the floor (I guess it was carpeted) was an unattractive way to spend 2 and half-hours on a boat, I got 1st-class tickets which entitled us to a slightly more private space. Since very few people bought the 1st class tickets we could occupy the upper level lounge for ourselves except for occasional visits by a young family with a baby who seemed to be assigned to another 1st-class space. If I had known the transportation difficulties, I would have chosen another method to get to Beppu from Matsuyama or perhaps a different itinerary. Anyway, all’s well that ends well. So I call this a learning experience afforded by a misadventure.
Beppu is a traditional tour spot for Japanese because of its onsen, hot spring. We stayed at Umine, a hotel-ryokan that faces ocean beach with individual onsen hot bath tub that gets continuous natural hot spring water. It is a fairly small ryokan all of whose rooms seem to have ocean view. Our room which had a living room and onsen bath room facing the ocean beach was very nice. The hot spring in our bath tub was lukewarm on the first day and rather hot on the second day. (My husband interpreted this phenomenon as hot spring strength was weak on the first day. However, later I came to know that the hotel adjusted the temperature of hot spring because the spring water was too hot – presumably only Japanese like the bath water rather hot.) I would say the best way one can enjoy onsen bath soak is to book at an onsen hotel/ ryokan that has rooms with private onsen bath tubs particularly if one is a woman.
On the second day at Beppu we had a guided tour of 7 jigoku/ hells (actually boiling hot mineral spring) in Beppu. Jigokus are categorized according to their hot spring appearances. For instance, Umi-Jigoku (Sea Hell) is categorized as such due to its water color, blue, thanks to copper sulfate in the boiling hot water whereas Chinoike-Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell) is called so due its reddish water color coming from the acidic iron and magnesium in the clay ground. These were fun places to visit, but most spectacular was Tatsumaki-Jigoku (Tornado Hell), a super-hot geyser that erupts every half an hour or so. We saw the geyser spouting for more than 5 minutes. (When we arrived at this “hell” the hot water had already started its eruption.) I think it interesting that Japanese made “hells” a source of entertainment.