6 Unique Hot Springs to Check Out in Beppu, Japan’s Onsen Capital

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6 Unique Hot Springs to Check Out in Beppu, Japan’s Onsen Capital

Beppu is known throughout Japan for being packed full of Japanese hot springs known as onsen locally, with eight different hot springs sources feeding hundreds of baths around the city. Apart from the endless choices of conventional bathing spots, you'll find some more unique onsen offerings too that make a trip to the hot spring capital of Japan well worth it.

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6 Unique Hot Springs to Check Out in Beppu, Japan’s Onsen Capital

Beppu Beach Sand Bath

Photo by leungchopan/Shutterstock

Being covered in burning hot sands might not sound quite as relaxing as dipping in an onsen, however this unique experience is surprisingly comforting. Would-be sand-bathers first need to don a yukata, the kimono's lighter version, before getting completely buried in sand from the head downwards. The temperature can be a little too high for some people, so staff can add in cooler sand to bring it down. After about 15 minutes the staff will save you from your beach burial.

Hyotan Onsen – Japan's Only Three Michelin-starred Hot Spring

Although most people tend to associate the prestigious French guide with restaurants, they also rank attractions too. This luxurious hot spring is one of Beppu's finest and the folks at Michelin appear to have noticed, giving it three stars for several years in a row as a must-visit destination. They have eight different baths both inside and out, each with unique properties for healing ailments or aches. Hyotan Onsen also has its own sand bathing too for those looking for an all-in-one stop.

Acidic Hot Springs at Tsukahara Onsen

In the mountains between Beppu and the town of Yufuin, Tsukahara Onsen has some of the most acidic waters in Japan, coming in at pH 1.4. While you might be wondering about the safety of taking an 'acid bath' here, it's perfectly fine to bathe in, in fact it's said the acidity does wonders for your skin. Like all hot springs just make sure not to bathe their for too long, it's easy to become dehydrated and feel dizzy.

Natural Mud Baths at Hoyoland

In addition to regular hot spring baths, Hoyoland is famous for its large mud baths. Step outside into the huge outside mixed bathing area and you'll see people slapping mud all over themselves. The mud here is said to do wonders for people's skin and although it's probably enough to just bathe in it, slathering it over your skin will help even more so.

Hand Bath

As soon as you step outside Beppu Station you'll see how hot springs have such a strong part of life in Beppu, with an onsen just for your hands to bathe in. While foot baths are not so uncommon in onsen towns around Japan, hand baths are not so heard of outside of Beppu. It's particularly great during cold winters to quickly warm up your hands. Best of all, it's free.

Kannawa Steam Bath

Perfect for those who want to relax but just don't like the idea of getting wet, this innovative onsen is exactly as it sounds, using hot steam produced from hot springs to mimic the feeling of having a bath. Although it might seem like the same concept as a sauna, it's different in a few different ways. The water used to produce the steam is the same used in the hot springs, so it's believed to have similar healing properties. Instead of sitting, steam-bathers lie down on a bed of Japanese herbs which also have medicinal properties.


There's no doubt Beppu is the ultimate destination for onsen enthusiasts. There's plenty of hot spring related activities here that go far beyond the standard public bathing spots. As well as these unique onsen experiences, there are plenty of beautiful outside baths known as rotenburo around the city, some that feature incredible views over the surrounding landscape of Beppu.