Tomodachi Guide with People’s Lab
Hello dear readers.
I’m Chu-Chu, your Beppu local guide.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my trip as a local guide with three of my resident foreign guests, and their reactions!
For those of you who are planning a trip to Beppu after the pandemic I hope you will find the contents of this article useful in planning your own trip! So let’s go!
About our guide style (Tomodachi guide)
Your trip will be like visiting a faraway friend, and your tour guide is like that old friend. You’ll make your most desired travel plans and experiences with your guide. Meeting up with the locals on your trip and experiencing the local culture and food in their most authentic unique form.
This time we had a Tomodachi guide with People’s Lab (Creative Team), three young people from different parts of the world. We met at Wander compass Beppu at 11:00am. Then we gathered together to take a photo at the entrance.
About the tour
This tour is designed to give you a chance to enjoy both the front and back of Beppu, visiting the hidden hot spring resort of “Yuyamanosato” and other famous hot spring resorts such as Myoban and Kanawa. This article is about the first half of the tour, visiting Beppu’s hidden hot spring resort “Yuyamanosato”.
Before the trip, we needed to buy some ingredients for The Hell Steam later. (The Hell Steam: in Japanese, ‘地獄蒸し’, which uses the natural heat of hot spring that steams your food, and keeps the original taste of the ingredient.) Although everything can be steamed in the hell steam, let’s see what we bought.
What is Yuyama?
After shopping, we drove to Yuyama（湯山）, as it’s name meaning in Japanese, it’s the combination of “Hot spring” (湯) and “mountain”（山）. Yuyama is located on the mountain side of Beppu, and has hot springs inside the mountain. This is a hidden hot spring facility run by a local couple. You can enjoy a natural open-air bath, “jigoku-mushi” (steamed in hell) cuisine using the steam from the bath, and unique Japanese scenery such as bamboo groves.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by Mr and Mrs Tsunematsu, the couple who run this facility.
They were born and raised here in Yuyama no Sato. They are genuine residents of the village. With the help of Mr. and Mrs. Tsunematsu, we start to prepare the “Jigoku-mushi”.
The Hell Steam!
After his introduction, we prepared the ingredients for The Hell Steam. Washed and cut the ingredients and put them in the steaming dish.Depending on the steaming time, we need to separate the different ingredients. The meat, enoki mushrooms and red peppers should be steamed for a shorter time, and sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins take quite longer. But don’t worry, Ms Tsunematsu will tell you how long each ingredient takes to steam.
Beautiful Nature & Hot Spring
This Yuyama mountain is about 100 square kilometres, with bamboo forests, bush, hot springs, and a geothermal power plant. There is a fault in the hill, and there is a continuous flow of hot springs in the fault zone.
Although those several hot springs are very close, the spring quality is quite different. There are sulphur springs, simple hot springs, and mud baths. You can also see different spectacular scenery from one hot spring to another, waterfalls, creek, blue sky, and sunlight through leaves, forest from far etc.
All those hot springs in Yuyama-no-sato are naturally occurring.
The hot spring bathing in the blessed nature of Beppu invites the visitor to the eternal Japan. With mountains and forests all around, this is one of the most natural of all the open-air baths in Beppu. The guests enjoyed the onsen in peace and quiet, forgetting the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Local seasoning with Steamed Food
After taking a hot spring bath, the steam food was ready. You can eat it directly, and don’t need to worry about matching the seasoning of the ingredients. All the ingredients are preserved in their original flavour when steamed in the hell. We only need the most simple seasoning, like salt, soy sauce, kabosu（カボス: Citrus sphaerocarpa), or whatever seasoning you prefer.
From a foreigner’s point of view, this place has become one of their favourite places, where they can enjoy Japanese style historic houses, bamboo forests, unique local cuisine and hidden hot springs, all while listening to the stories of the kind-hearted Mr. and Mrs. Tsunematsu.If you’re ever in Beppu, why not stop by Wonder Compass and explore the local content?
In the second half of this article, we will introduce you to the front face of Beppu, the Myoban and Kanawa areas of tourist interest.
See you in the second half!