Tag Archive: onsen


Mt. Tsurumi Ropeway


Located on the border of Beppu and Yufu in Oita Prefecture is this volcano towering over the hot spring town of Yufuin. Initially, we planned on hiking Mt. Yufu, but thankfully, our guide had the nerve to discourage us from doing the Mt. Yufu trek. Instead, we chose to ride the aerial lift line towards Mt. Tsurumi.

Beppu Ropeway is just a hop and a skip from the Beppu Onsen Resort (Umi Jigoku Springs) where we had our foot bath. All around, we glimpsed steam vents. And up on the cable car, we were awed by the autumn foliage rolling under the lift as the car climbed up Mt. Tsurumi. The hike offers 2 options — one either starts the trek from the lower ropeway station, or ride all the way up and then walk the last few meters to reach the summit. We were an assortment of travel buddies whose sense of adventure spans a wide range. 😊 And so we opted to climb easy, or so I thought 🙄

The youngest member of our hiking party ran up the steps while the rest gingerly climbed one step at a time. I was gasping for air and broke my climb with frequent oxygen breaks. The summit may not be that high at 1,375 meters but my lungs don’t know that. Huffing, we made it and we lingered for many posterity shots. The panoramic view at the summit takes (a few more) breaths away, even as temps dipped to 0 Celsius. Brrrrrr……We were only too happy to take the same cable car down to the station and then enjoy our foot bath in the steamy, hot springs of Beppu. That, plus an onsen adventure before bedtime and our day’s complete!

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The “hells” of Beppu offer a unique experience. Its hot springs generate so much steam you can cook just about anything. Clams, scallops, fish, shrimps, octopus, pork, eggs, sausages, corn, sweet potatoes, cabbage. First you buy your stuff to cook in the store. The man in the open kitchen made sure we saw our bought stuff laid out in the steaming pots and baskets, and advised us to claim our tables and wait 15 minutes. As he dropped the pots, hot steam jetted out ferociously and blurred my eyeglasses. I’d never make it as a cook. Not even as steamer!

Hell’s Kitchen. Very eco-friendly. But we all wished the man fished out our lunch sooner than 15 minutes. The octopus meat wasn’t so tender anymore. And the shrimps were overcooked. Rather, oversteamed. But we enjoyed our pork slices with steamed cabbage, which tasted rather sweet. Even sweeter were the corn and sweet (say that again?) potatoes. The fish was ok, so with the sausages. But the clams and scallops were rubbery. Again, oversteamed!

Well, we still managed to enjoy our lunch. Can’t resist this unique onsen cooking here in Beppu. You’d find steam vents all over the place. We were lucky to beat the lunch crowd as we came early. Heard it can be crowded. The food is just average but one must think of this as an experience rather than as an honest-to-goodness dining.

If visiting Beppu, don’t skip this experience. But be sure to tell the “steamer-chef” to steam your seafood stuff for only 7-10 minutes. I think that should do it. And yes, don’t miss the sweet corn and potatoes. Then, sit back, relax and have a beer while waiting for lunch.

Happy steaming, Happy eating!

(PS. Thanks, Iyay for letting me use your photo)

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THE BEPPU SPRINGS IN AUTUMN


Beppu is a resort city in the Oita Prefecture. Found in the southern island of Kyushu, Japan, it boasts of as many as 4,000 onsens or hot springs set between the volcanic mountains and the lovely Beppu Bay. You know you are in Beppu as soon as you see those steam vents all over the city. Quite amazing and rather unreal to find in a city.

We arrived autumn time. The (hot) springs area in Umi Jigoku was teeming with steam vents looking even more surreal because of the autumn foliage. Unfortunately, we came on a long weekend. This Thanksgiving weekend sent throngs of locals out of their urban abodes heading for the luxury of sand baths, mud baths, foot baths, onsen, hot spring baths to be found in Beppu.

We couldn’t wait for 2 hours for the sand baths. Besides, it’s freezing cold (as low as ZERO degree in Mt. Tsurumi Summit at 1,375 meters high) and we weren’t confident we’d enjoy lying down “buried” under the hot sands for only 15 minutes, then up and go. Too much trouble. Instead, we opted for the foot baths. Still too hot for our legs and feet, but t’was fun doing this with the group before a hefty kaiseki in our hotel’s restaurant. A lonnnnng dinner, with the ubiquitous Japanese cooking utensils and dishes spread out on our long table. The plating typically teases, but the taste never ever disappoints!

We were filled to the brim with all the sumptuous food. The miso soup had an unusual, savory taste. The pickles you’d care to eat with your rice. The thin meat slices paired well with the broth with morsels of fish balls, shrimps, etc. The saba (costing ¥5,000 per mackerel) was so fresh. The tempura batter sweetish and crisp. Even the matcha gelatine-like dessert tasted sooo good.

That last photo above was sourced from our hotel’s site.

So, no worries. We didn’t snap photos inside the hotel’s onsen. Did we try it? Naturally. Beppu boasts of the best onsen experience. And so, we ended our long day on a “hot” note.

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