Oita to Beppu – 16 April

It’s not just about the ride …

A wonderful day … leaving Oita City – a nice city – very warm feeling about it. Only 16km to Beppu the heart of the onsens in Kyushu.

The ride in was a cinch … a wide cycleway along the coast, however the day’s work has not finished. We were lucky to be able to check into our hostel at 10am – dump the panniers and off to discover Beppu.

The hostel is only 3 weeks new – traditional Japanese – we have a straw matting floor and a low table. At night we lay out the bedding … lovely shower and toilet … a communal dining room with free coffee service, kitchen, microwave and refrigerator … Perfect!

A trip to the information office at the station. We are limited but determined to find at least 1 of the 4 waterfalls in the area. We have quite a climb and are rewarded with a lovely view of the city and the waterfall which is magical – I feel like fairies and gnomes should appear. Reminders of a favorite movie, Disney’s The Gnome-Mobile – showing my age here!

Next is the famous onsens … we have another climb – there are 7 separate onsens – we were advised to visit 2 of the most popular – we take the advice … as we approach the area we see puffs of steam emerging from drain holes in the streets. We pay to see the Umi – such a lovely setting … a foot bath, a red pool and a blue pool – they are far too hot for use – the gardens are manicured as well as the Japanese do … perfect!

We go down to Kamado Onsen it is very busy and closes in a half hour there is a bus tour in and very congested, not quite the serene atmosphere of Umi – a man with a microphone wooing the crowds to see the chemical reaction of smoke on the vapours of the sulfur fumes at the different ponds … all very entertaining but not half as good as the previous experience we have just had.

We leave thinking we were lucky to have seen Umi and its tranquillity … and also visited Unzen a couple weeks ago where it was free and in its natural environment.

Closer to the town there are many onsens that are for bathing – I’m hoping to discover at least one tomorrow.

Back at the hostel … in the communal area we meet some Koreans and Dutch; the receptionist is only 20 and has an interest in English and Korean languages – so we talk – such a sweet young lady. Furthermore, on our way in today we met some Dutch cyclists … life is wonderful.

Only in Japan …

Pedestrian crossings –

In the major cities we have noticed that not only does the little green man light shine to cross the road, all manner of sounds can happen. There are voices talking to the pedestrian; music plays or a bird sings … earlier on – John thought a bird was following him until he ‘got it!’


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