Bloody Hell, That's Tranquil: The Boiling Ponds of Beppu

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 21 2014 9:32 AM

The Bubbling Hells of Beppu, Japan

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

The city of Beppu in southern Japan is set on a steaming collection of geothermal hotspots. Here, at one of the many resorts, you can bathe in a mineral-rich spring, get buried up to your neck in warm sand, or sink into a mud bath. You can also visit Chinoike Jigoku, the blood-red pond from hell.

Translated as "Bloody Hell Pond," Chinoike Jigoku is one of the eight "Hells of Beppu" — where "hell" equals "touristy hot spring meant for viewing, not bathing." Each hell has a theme. Shaven Monk's Head Hell is a pool of simmering mud, so called because the belching bubbles resemble bald guys' noggins. Sea Hell is a brilliant (fake) turquoise, while murky Demon Mountain Hell has been populated with a horde of disconsolate crocodiles. None of it makes much sense, but the swirls of steam that billow from each pond make for dramatic photos.

Advertisement

You can't go for a dip in any of the hells — in accordance with their name, they're too hot — but you can eat eggs, vegetables, and pudding that have been cooked in the springs. On your way out, don't forget to pick up some soothing skincare products made from the crimson sludge of Bloody Hell Pond.

Boiling, bubbling, steaming sites:

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?