A Quick Travel Guide for Things to Do in Beppu, Japan
Although touristy, you cannot visit the Kyushu region without stopping in Beppu. Beppu is home to over 2,000 natural hot springs including the Hells of Beppu which are intriguing thermal pools for viewing. In the Kannawa Onsen district of Beppu, you can bathe in mud, sand, and nutrient-rich water for a detox. There are also a ton of regional specialty dishes to try from restaurants in the area. One thing is for sure, Beppu will give you a spa experience like no other.
We visited Beppu during the first part of our Japan road trip when we were driving through Kyushu. Although we only had two days in Beppu we tried to make the most of our time there and felt like we were able to see the highlights! In this travel guide, we’ll explain how to get to Beppu, where to stay in Beppu, and many things to do in Beppu as well as how to get to each of these attractions.
Where is Beppu?
Beppu is a city located on the eastern coast of Japan’s most southern region, Kyushu. It is set between Beppu Bay and volcanic mountains including Mount Tsurumi which is accessible to travelers by cable car.
How to Get to Beppu, Japan
How to Get to Beppu by Car
When we visited Beppu we traveled there from Takachiho by car. We found most of the Kyushu Region, including Beppu to be easily accessible by car and parking was also easy to find. From Takachiho the drive to Beppu is about 2 hours 15 minutes (103km) although we made a few stops along the way including the Yufugawa Valley. Beppu is also easily accessed from many other cities in the Kyushu region including Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Kitakyushu
How to Get to Beppu by Train
From Takachiho (Approximately 3 hours 30 minutes)
From Takachiho the fastest way to get to Beppu is by taking the Nobeoka Eki bus from Miyakoh Bus Center (about 10 minutes from Takachiho Station). You’ll stay on this bus for 4 stops (55 minutes) until you reach Nobeoka Station. From there take the Sonic-Nichirin (JR Nichirin 14 Limited Express Train) to Oita Station (5 stops – 2 hours). From Oita Station, you can take a few different trains to Beppu Station but the fastest is the Limited Express Hakata which is only one stop and about 8 minutes. The entire journey costs about ¥6,130.
From Fukuoka (Approximately 2 hours)
From Fukuoka, the best way to get to Beppu is by taking the Sonic-Nichirin (Sonic Limited Express Train) from Hakata Station to Beppu Station. The journey has 6 stops and costs about ¥5,680.
From Kumamoto (Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes)
From Kumamoto, the best way to get to Beppu is by taking the Kyushu Shinkansen to Kokura Station (about 1 hour). At Kokura Station take the Sonic-Nichirin (Sonic Limited Express Train) to Beppu Station (1 hour 15 minutes, 7 stops). The total journey costs about ¥11,860.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when traveling to Beppu by bus and/or train. Because the trains are limited in Kyushu the routes are often more expensive. There are less expensive options than the ones listed above but they might add an additional 2+ hours to your travel time. For additional routes to Beppu from other locations in Japan or the above cities, you can use Google Maps to look at the train and some bus schedules.
Where to Stay in Beppu, Japan
Beppu Daiiti Hotel
During our time in Beppu, we stayed at the Beppu Daiiti Hotel which was perfect for our stay because it was extremely budget-friendly and had free parking and breakfast each morning. If you aren’t driving to and from Beppu this hotel is also close to Beppu Station making it easy to travel to other areas of Beppu or to Oita as well.
Location: 2-40 Noguchi Motomachi, Beppu, Oita 874-0933, Japan // MAP
Cost: We used points for our stay but the cost would have totaled $65/night
If you are interested in staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), Yamada Bessou is a great option. It is pretty budget-friendly for a ryokan stay and although it is in an older building, its age adds to the character of this ryokan. Part of the charm is the small garden located nearby and the private outdoor onsen which can be reserved by 30-minute time slots in advance. There are also indoor baths that are separated for men and women.
Location: 3 Chome-2-18 Kitahama, Beppu, Oita 874-0920, Japan // MAP
Cost: Around $150/night
Amane Resort Seikai
If you want to splurge a little Beppu is a great place to do so! There are a number of luxury ryokan in the area that have private onsen alongside stunning ocean views. Amane Resort Seikai is one of the most popular luxury accommodations in Beppu. It features luxurious guest rooms that all have ocean views and three onsite restaurants.
Location: 6-24 Shoningahamacho, Beppu, Oita 874-0023, Japan // MAP
Cost: Around $250/night
ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa
The ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa is obviously a part of the InterContinental chain but the name speaks for itself. It is a newer resort and one of the only five-star hotels in the area so you can expect five-star treatment as well! The rooms are beautiful with stunning ocean and city views but the real star of the show is the club level rooms which have private outdoor onsen on the balcony. On the main level, you can also enjoy the hotel onsen which features beautiful views of Beppu Bay.
Location: 499-18 Oaza, Kannawa, Beppu, Oita 874-0000, Japan // MAP
Cost: Around $400/night
Things to Do in Beppu
Take A Walk Around Kagurame Lake
If you happen to be visiting in the summer, Kagurame Lake is a beautiful place to visit in Beppu. During the month of June, over 300,000 flowers bloom making for a stunning landscape of color around the lake and even on the lake.
Most of the flowers in bloom during this season are Japanese Iris which range in shades of blues, whites, and purples. If you aren’t visiting in June, have no fear! There are other seasonal flowers that bloom by Kagurame Lake too.
While you’re there be sure to walk alongside the dock to a pavilion that will allow you to see an exceptional view of the Irises as far as your eyes can see! In the background, you’ll also be able to see a mountain range.
Ride Paddle Boats at Shidokako Lake
Close to Kagurame Lake is another picturesque place to visit – Shidokako Lake. This lake doesn’t have the fields of Irises like Kagurame Lake but it does have a lot of beautiful nature to enjoy including hydrangea!
One of the highlights of Shidokako Lake is renting a paddleboat to take out on the lake while viewing the beautiful mountains in the background. There are also a number of colorful koi fish in the lake that you can feed.
Although we didn’t have the chance to do so, we read that there are a number of nice walking paths or hiking trails that you can also enjoy here. If you are interested in camping while in Japan, this is a great place.
Take A Ride on the Beppu Ropeway to Mt. Tsurumi
The Beppu Ropeway is the largest ropeway in the Kyushu region! It takes you on a 10-minute journey 1,300 meters above sea level towards the top of Mt. Tsurumi. Mt. Tsurumi is an active volcano that is located at the edge of Aso-Kuju National Park.
It is also the source of Beppu Hot Spring. At the top of Mt. Tsurumi you can capture a stunning view of Beppu, the Kuju Mountains, Mt. Yufu, and even parts of the Shikoku region. Since it’s located at a higher altitude, it’s also the perfect place to escape from the summer heat!
Once you’ve reached the top and checked out the epic view from above be sure to explore the area on the mountain. Because it is considered to be a sacred place, there is a tour to visit the seven deities on the mountain.
You can do this tour individually with the map that the Beppu Ropeway provides stopping along the way to view each of the statues as well as a number of scenic viewing points. Before you leave be sure to also stop in the Kyushu Shochu-kan Gift Shop which has over 500 kinds of shochu available for purchase.
Location: Japan, 〒874-0000 Oita, Beppu, Minamitateishi, 寒原１０−７ // MAP
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Adults: 1,600 yen (round-trip), 1,000 yen (one-way), Children: 800 yen (round-trip), 500 yen (one-way)
Visit the Hells of Beppu
Probably the most iconic thing to do in Beppu is to visit the Hells of Beppu. These hot springs are the result of volcanic activity in the area and each has varying characteristics. Five of the hells are located in the Kannawa District and while you visit, make sure you collect a free souvenir stamp from each place! We paid for each hell as we went because we chose not to visit all.
Sea Hell – Umi Jigoku (海地獄)
In my opinion, the “sea hell” is the best one to visit. It has a pond of milky blue water and gardens that make for a more beautiful setting. There are also a few smaller, rusty orange-colored hells nearby so if you’re only visiting this one you’ll get the most for your money. One other thing we enjoyed doing at the “sea hell” was throwing in a coin for good luck!
Shaven Head Hell – Oniishibozu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄)
The “shaven head hell” is named after the liquid mud bubbles that rise from the water and look like the shaven head of a monk. Also onsite is a footbath with steamy mineral water and a public bath that you can soak in for an additional 620 yen.
Cooking Pot Hell – Kamado-Jigoku (かまど地獄)
The “cooking pot hell” has a few different boiling ponds and a statue of a demon as a cook. One thing that makes the cooking pot hell unique is that visitors can drink the hot springs water while also enjoying hand and foot baths here. There are also a variety of specialty snacks for sale that have been cooked by the steam of the hot spring. Some of these snacks include corn, boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes.
Demon Mountain Hell – Oniyama Jigoku(鬼山地獄)
We didn’t visit the “demon mountain hell” because if I’m being honest I can’t imagine how it is ethical. Inside this hell are a large number of crocodiles that are bred here. From the photos, it looks like the area is quite confined so we skipped this one.
White Pond Hell – Shirake Jigoku (白池地獄)
This hell has a similar look to the sea hell but has water with more of a milky white color. There is also a small, yet pretty garden onsite and an aquarium. But, I’ll be honest, I’d say skip the aquarium.
Blood Pond Hell – Chinoike Jigoku (血の池地獄)
The “blood pond hell” is exactly as the name sounds, a steamy hot spring with red water. I would say this hell of Beppu was my second favorite after the “sea hell” because it was unique and photogenic. There is also a large souvenir shop onsite.
Waterspout Hell – Tatsumaki-Jigoku (龍巻地獄)
The “spout hell” features a boiling hot geyser that reminds me of what I think Old Faithful would be like in Yellowstone National Park, but smaller due to a stone plate that is placed on top of the geyser to prevent it from getting too tall. The geyser erupts every 30-40 minutes for about 6-10 minutes.
How to Get to the Hells of Beppu
The hells located in the Kannawa District can be accessed by bus at JR Beppu Station. Get off at the Kannawa Bus Terminal and you can reach the ones in this area on foot.
Bus 16/16A runs twice per hour from Kannawa to Shibaseki (~5 minutes) where the remaining two hells are located. The bus then continues via Kamegawa Station to Beppu Station (40 minutes). Bus number 26/26A runs in the opposite direction of bus number 16/16A.
As we said before, we spent most of our time in Beppu traveling by rental car which we found to be easy to do! There is free parking provided at each of the hells too so you don’t have to worry about additional fees.
Hours: 8am-5pm daily
Cost: 400 yen per hell or 2,000 yen for a pass to visit all.
Take A Sand Bath on Beppu Beach
A unique relaxing activity that you can enjoy in Beppu is taking a sand bath on Beppu Beach. You might already be wondering, what is a sand bath? Well, it is basically a pit of hot black sand that you are buried in.
Upon arrival, you are shown to a locker room where you will change into the provided yukata that you will change into to enjoy your sand bath. Some items like shampoo, conditioner, and a washbasin are provided free of charge but there is an additional cost for the locker, hair cap, towel usage, and a few other items.
Once you’ve changed, attendants will begin burying you in the sand which adds pressure from the weight and heat. It’s a lot heavier and hotter than expected so be sure to let them know if adjustments are needed to make the experience more comfortable.
Now, another question you might have is why take a sand bath? Well, aside from the experience or a cool photo there are a number of health benefits from taking a sand bath as well. Research has shown that it can help muscle and joint stiffness, relieve stress and even provide temporary relief from chronic pain conditions. After your sand bath, you can shower off the leftover sand inside the facilities before you leave.
Location: Shoningahamacho, Beppu, Oita 874-0000, Japan // MAP
Hours: March to November 8:30am-6pm, December to February 9am-4pm
Cost: 1,050 yen
Where to Eat in Beppu
This small restaurant is perfect for lunch and has a wide variety of menu items. You can order dishes like tempura, udon, and donburi (rice bowls).
But the most famous items at Okamotoya Baiten are the eggs steamed from the sulphuric hot spring water and the jigoku mushi which is a purin egg custard that jiggles when you shake it!
We ordered katama udon which is hot udon noodles that has an uncooked scrambled egg on top for the sauce. We also ordered toriten which is a type of chicken tempura.
Location: Japan, 〒874-0843 Oita, Beppu, 明礬３組 // MAP
Hours: 8:30am-6:30pm daily
One evening we stopped by Hajime Zushi for dinner and were immediately greeted by the friendly staff and told to sit at whichever seat at the sushi bar we wanted. We ordered omakase which means “I’ll leave it to you” basically insinuating to the chef that you’ll have whatever they’ll plate for you! Usually, this provides you with the freshest fish and best pairings rather than ordering al la carte.
Something I’ve always loved about small sushi counters is the ability to converse with the people that work there. The owners of Hajime Zushi were incredibly talkative and even wanted to take a photo with us when we were finished with our meal!
Location: Japan, 〒874-0920 Oita, Beppu, 4, 北浜１丁目4-13八坂レンガ通り // MAP
Hours: 6pm-2am daily, closed Sundays
Beppu is such a unique place to visit in the Kyushu region of Japan. Which of these things to do in Beppu would you want to do most?