Scooping up the mud from the bottom of the onsen, it slips through your fingers like goopy cream. It drops back into the milky-white water and disappears back into the hot springs in a dispersing cloud of whiteness. While a traditional Japanese onsen (a hot spring designated for bathing) is typically done in clear hot spring water, Beppu Onsen Hoyoland offers a rare chance to take a dip in piping hot mud. The onsen is located in the city of Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Kyushu, and is a unique onsen experience that is definitely worth trying.
Beppu Hoyoland Indoor Onsens
Bathers start in the visitor’s centre, where they can access the indoor onsens. These water baths follow the traditional etiquette of nude bathing and showering before you enter, and are separated by gender. The water in the indoor baths is tinged white from the minerals and impurities of the mud. There is also an indoor mud bath, for those who prefer to enjoy the mud baths with a bit more privacy.
Outdoor Mud Bathing In Beppu
When it’s time to visit the main outdoor mud bath, separate paths lead outside for both men and women. The mud bath of Beppu Onsen Hoyoland is a large outdoor pool ringed by rocks, and a view of the forest stretching out beyond (with a rather unsightly road bridge up above).
Men enter the bath by walking directly from the building (exposed to the air for a moment!), whilst women have an enclosed entrance allowing them to enter the water under cover. Once inside the mud bath, the thick milk-coloured waters hide everything from view. There is a bamboo railing that separates men and women, allowing couples and groups to still talk across the divider.
The mud is said to have rejuvenating qualities, and scooping up a handful and rubbing it on your skin acts as a natural exfoliant. Once bathing and scrubbing and playing with mud is finished, rinse the mud off under the shower and head back into the main building to get dressed. After an onsen, it’s a good idea to grab a nice cold drink, or an ice cream to cool down!
Beppu Onsen Hoyoland is just one of the great onsens that can be found in Beppu. There are traditional onsens to visit, such as the grand old building of Takegarawa Onsen, which has communal onsens for everyone; or more unusual onsens like sand bathing at the beach, which involves being partially buried. Whichever onsen you choose, Beppu is one of the best spots to enjoy the Japanese onsen experience!