Friday, June 12, 2009

Kyushu & Shikoku Travels – 大分市 (Oita) & 別府市 (Beppu)

This is our last stop in this trip around Kyushu before we take the ferry from Oita to Shikoku. Oita is not really interesting but we had to stay there as all the hotels in Beppu were fully booked. Anyway, Oita is only approx 20 mins by train from Beppu.

Well, a change of plans took place when Mrs Tan Tan recommend a new place to visit, 臼杵磨崖仏 (Usuki Stone Buddha). The stone Buddha are estimated to be craved in the 12th centuries and were craved on soft rocks which means that they are easily damaged by weathering. They are awarded National Treasures status in 1995.

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At the Usuki Stone Buddha area, there was this sign that pointed to a National Treasure of 5 storeys pagoda. The hike to this National Treasure takes approximately half an hour up slope with signs of beware of snakes along the way. But frankly speaking, there was no point going there as the so-called National Treasure there was disappointing.

IMG_0581 IMG_0582 the 5 storeys pagoda – got what I meant by disappointing?

Saw this interesting bottle of honey in one of the shop and this is definitely pure honey!IMG_0611

Ok. Why are we interested in Beppu for a start? Well, in Japan, there are a few things that are famous.

  1. Scenery
  2. Food and
  3. Onsen!!

Yes. Beppu is famous for its onsen, producing more onsen water than any other area in Japan. And they are popular for sand bath where we were covered with hot sand of approximately 40 degree Celsius.

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A guide on how you go about with the hot sand onsen. Firstly, you get covered with sand for approximately 10-15mins, thereafter, get a shower and finally a dip in the hot bath. And the hot sand was relax therapy to the max!

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Satisfied us after the hot sand bath.

We also visited the more touristy Beppu Nine Jigoku (Hells) which basically comprises of different hot springs that are found in this area. Let me bring you through the Nine Hells.

IMG_0706 Shirake Jigoku – So called white pond due to its milky white water.

IMG_0635IMG_0636 The bubbling Oniishiboza Jigoku as the bubbling mud looks like the shaven head of a monk. Reminds me of my friend though.. hee hee

IMG_0642 Umi Jigoku or sea hell which the clear blue water seems like okinawa sea.

IMG_0661IMG_0703 Yama Jigoku with spurring steam of hot water from the various rocks. There’s also a zoo and a museum featuring malaysia and includes a kampong

IMG_0744 Chinoike Jigoku or blood pond which features a nice red pond.

IMG_0670IMG_0693 One of the ponds in Kamado Jigoku which has several small ponds. This pond is very interesting as it changes its colour during the year.

IMG_0757 Tatsumaki Jigoku or sprout hell with its geyser that sprouts every 15-20mins.

Ok. there are only 7 of the 9 hells here as the other 2 hells are so boring that we never took much pictures. One features crocodiles which was so common and the other just a hot geyser with a green house. Both of which features stuffs which we are used to and hence.. boring.

From Oita, we took a 3 1/2 hours ferry to Matsuyama.