Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Beppu: The City of Volcanoes and Hot Springs

Gondola "Tsurumi" of the Beppu Ropeway

Japanese take about one straight week of holidays during the so-called "Golden Week" starting from the end of April. This year, Golden Week refered to the period from April 28th to May 6th when there were four national holidays. Using Golden Week, I headed to Ooita Prefecture on Kyushu Island with my family.

Our first destination was Beppu City, about 1,200 km west of Tokyo. Beppu is famous for its volcanic activities. For instance, scenic Mt. Tsurumidake (elevation: 1,375 m) is a popular spot among tourists. Beppu Ropeway is a convenient access to the summit. It is an aerial tramway opened in 1962. Connecting Beppu-kogen and Tsurumi-sanjo stations, its route length is 1,816 meters. The height difference between the two stations is 792.5 meters. Its maximum inclination is 33.6 degrees. The gondola is operated every 20 minutes with an operating speed of 4.1 meters per second. It takes 10 minutes to go one way. The current gondolas, namely Tsurumi and Yufu, were built by Kinki Sharyo in 1986. Each gondola can hold up to 101 passengers.

After enjoying Mt. Tsurumidake, we visited Umi-jigoku (sea hell) in the urban area. Umi-jigoku is a hot spring, which emerged after the eruption of a volcano about 1200 years ago. It is called "sea hell", because its emerald color is associated with the sea. Along with Chinoike-jigoku (blood pond hell), which has red water, Umi-jigoku is also one of the popular sightseeing spots in Beppu City.

Beppu is not a hell but a heaven for world travelers.

Umi-jigoku (Sea Hell) hot spring in Beppu City

Official information about Beppu Ropeway: