Apparently winter is coming, but at least last week it was still warm and sunny enough to take a walk down the mountain, to Kamegawa and downtown Beppu. This time I took a different route than usual: few surprises were on my way!
Even though the walking directions here are rather limited, the scenery at least is variable. And there are many new things I encounter each time.
You never know what comes around the corner.
It takes roughly two hours to walk to downtown Beppu. I prefer the route along the habitation, since there are nice plantations where people grow their vegetables (no wonder, since they’re so expensive in the stores!), beautiful small gardens, architecture and interesting encounters.
My next goal is to walk to the nearest onsen, on the other side of the mountain. It is easy to go down, but I would never walk up here (to “Hogwarts”).
Rough bare stone terrain, traditional bamboo forest, pine tree forest, fields and various different vegetation was passed during a hike to the secret onsen. After hiking in the sun for almost an hour, the reward was tremendous.
Beppu is known for its’ hot springs, onsen. There are several onsens around the city, most of which are spa-like and run by entrepreneurs. My first onsen experience here was different – these onsens were in the mountains, completely in the natural state, and free of charge.
A girl was killed in the onsen where we went a year ago, thus there was several sign warning about going to the onsens a)alone, b)with only women and c)during night time. In addition to that, there was another sign regarding proper code of conduct.
After the first two onsens (one pictured above, plus a mud onsen next to it) we continued to a third one even higher up the mountain. The last onsen we went to was apparently rather popular among Japanese men, so as to respect their privacy (and private parts), I don’t have many pictures.
The onsens would be perfect during night time, to watch the stars. Also in the winter I can imagine that sitting in the hot bath would be spectacular – getting out would not be so pleasant. The road to the onsens was very poor, so in the winter time it might be tricky to drive there by car. Walking in the dark would definitely not be an option, either. We had a chance to boil some eggs in a hole that had boiling water – next time we were thinking about having a picnic with more food to boil and steam. What a better way to spend a day, than hiking, and then chilling in the hot bath and eating food prepared in the nature.