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The Seven Hells of Kannawa and Kamegawa

WLT Technical Officer Roger Forsey with his wife Wendy is travelling once again in Japan, one of his favourite destinations. Roger can always be relied upon to send us interesting and amusing despatches as travellers tales. His latest is no exception and as Shirley Sydenham replied to him; "... but don't fall into any of those hells please!"

Our flight from Melbourne to Tokyo left at midnight. This time we were flying JAL in premium economy.

Real legroom and we had the privilege of waiting for our flight in the lounge. Too bad about the loud-mouthed Aussie yobs who were in the lounge waiting for the same flight.

After landing at Narita airport, we transferred to a Jetstar flight to Fukuoka, situated on the northern shore of Japanese island Kyushu.

Jump on the subway at the airport to Hakata station. From Hakata it was a couple of hours on a limited express to Beppu. Finally, we took a local train to Beppudaigaku Station.

Our apartment in Beppu was just up the main road from Beppudaigaku Station.

After a brief rest, we had to slog up the road in the dark to the local supermarket to stock up the kitchen. All in all, we had been on the move for around 24 hours.

We had come to Beppu because the Kannawa and Kamegawa region has been described as home to fuming gas explosions, bubbling mud and steaming hot water. It had become known for it's "jigoku" ("Hells")

So early on Tuesday morning, we set out up the main road up the hills to the first of the seven hells.

Geologically, the region is rift valley, where ground water drains into the hot rocks and flashes into steam, hot water springs and boiling mud.

You start to see steam venting from the steel gratings beside the road and metal towers venting high pressure steam. Wells have been drilled to supply hot water to hotels and onsens.

The first "Hell" that you see in the photos is Umi-Jigoku. The cool cobalt-blue pond is actually a scolding 98 degrees C. They keep tropical Piranhas in tanks heated by the steam.

Oniishibozu-Jigoku is named because the large and small bubbles in the mud look like the shaven heads of monks.

Kamado-Jigoku is cooking-pot hell.

I did find some reference in some other non-tourist guides to the practice of boiling alive certain offenders in ancient times.

Oniyama-Jigoku is also known as Wani-Jigoku or crocodile hell.

Shiraike-Jigoku is "white pond hell".

The next day we traveled by bus to Tatsumaki-Jigoku. This is a geyser known for the short time, around 40 minutes, between spouts of steam and boiling water. The geyser is surrounded by by a forest of azaleas.

A short distance away is the final Hell - Chinoike-Jigoku. This is a steaming pot of red clay.

Link to photos

0423 Beppu - Hell Tour

0424 Beppu - Hell Tour

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