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Besides hanging out with over-sized greenery, part of my Golden Week was spent relaxing in onsen (hot springs) in Beppu, Ooita Prefecture, which is famous for its many onsen.

Now, my friends and I hadn’t planned this trip in advance. Even if we had, if we traveled during the actual consecutive national holidays, we would have been price-gouged mercilessly. The cost of a one night stay can easily go up by one or two hundred US dollars during these days! So, to keep costs down, we decided to leave on the night of Monday, the second, even though my two friends had work that day. We had to buy dinner at a conbini because we wouldn’t make it in time to eat at the hotel.

The hotel was one of JR’s own accommodations, Beppusou, about a 5 minute walk from Beppu Station. We arrived at the hotel, chilled for an hour or so, eating our “dinners,” then went to the onsen. We mostly just stayed in the rotenburou, but there were no stars in the sky. Even so, it was very relaxing. Luckily, there were no other people in it, as by then it was 11PM. After an hour of soaking and chatting, we went back up to our room for ice cream and more yakking. We ended up staying up until 2 or 3AM! But we had to get up early for breakfast the next day.

The hotel breakfast was a traditional Japanese one, with fish, eggs, miso soup, rice, tsukemono (pickled vegetables), and nattou. The whole set seemed rather small, so I fought the sensation of eating watery boogers and consumed even the nattou. (I don’t mind the smell so much as the texture. So slippery…ugh.) Thankfully all the protein items filled me up.

<Random Side Note> At breakfast, we saw a man wearing a T-shirt that had a skull & crossbones and read, “Too fat to live Too young to die CREAM SODA.” </Random Side Note>

Given the price of just about 13,000 yen (161 USD at the moment) per person for round-trip train fare & hotel accommodation, I think we got a good deal. The hotel itself was pretty average; if we had paid more I might be disappointed.

I had wanted to go back in the onsen after breakfast, but alas, it was being cleaned. I wonder if something happened, as I had been told that it opened at 5AM and was available till 1AM. Too sleepy to go back to bed, I just chatted with the friend who was awake and packed slowly. Then we went down to buy omiyage and check out.

Our train back was at around 2PM, so we didn’t have much time. We wanted to see the 地獄温泉 (jigoku onsen – hell hot springs), which are onsen that are too hot to go into, and also have interesting features. The tour bus that hit all the spots took 2.5 hours, time we didn’t have. So we chose to just see one: 血の池地獄 (chi no ike jigoku – Lake of Blood Hell).

It wasn’t as red as it appears in official photos, but my photos do make it look slightly browner than it seemed in person. It was drizzling by this time, and the sky was hazy due to the dust storms from China, so I do wonder if it looks redder with no rain and direct sunshine.

Maybe Lake of Terra Cotta Hell is a more appropriate name.

I like how the little building back there has ogre horns. ^o^ They sell omiyage there, such as clay from the Lake of Blood.

温泉の足湯 (onsen no ashiyu - hot spring footbath). I just today learned the term 足湯 when I showed these photos to one of the secretaries. This little footbath is across from the Lake of Blood.

After that little soak, we got Lake of Blood-themed omiyage and headed back. We took a cab to the nearest train station (we had taken a bus there from Beppu Station because for some reason, there are hardly any local trains out of Beppu Station, it’s mostly just Sonics (AKA Limited Expresses) and Rapid Expresses, which don’t stop at Kamegawa Station, which is the nearest to Chi no Ike), and right as we were going in, the station master said to us, “Beppu? The train’s leaving right now, just run on in!” We just said “oh!” and ran down without buying tickets and even forgot to thank the guy in our frenzy. ^_^; But we sure were glad we didn’t get stuck waiting for an hour for a local train. We simply paid our fare at Beppu Station. We had lunch, then it was back to the tracks to head to Hakata.

A JR Kyuushuu ad in one of the cars of the Sonic.

I must say, I’m really feelin’ the art direction of JR Kyuushuu’s ads lately. The same neo-retro style that first appeared on the advertising for Steam Locomotive Hitoyoshi (you can see an example in the opening of my video about said train over at this post) is now on several Kyuushuu trip ads.

An inter-car compartment (if that's a term) on the Sonic. It's like the future yo.

Lemme stop talking about trains before I get called a train otaku. ^o^;

Well, that’s pretty much it for Beppu!

次回!Probably an RLS post. ^o^;