Producing the largest volume of hot spring water in the entire country, Beppu boasts a plethora of onsen so unique, you wouldn’t be able to experience them anywhere else in Japan. Why not combine the marvel of its traditional inns cocooned in nature, private hot springs you can enjoy at your own pace, onsen baths that have sprawling views of the sea, refreshing onsen steam baths where you lie on a bed of medicinal herbs together with Beppu’s exciting seasonal events and traditional festivals to make your trip all the more special? From vibrant matsuri in spring and night-time illuminations of its renowned “Hells” in the summer to breathtaking fireworks by the sea in winter, your time in Beppu will be filled with moments of fun and leisure!
Beppu Hatto Onsen Matsuri – Join the Locals in This Traditional Festival Celebrating Beppu’s Prized Hot Springs
The Beppu Hatto Onsen Matsuri is Beppu’s most representative festival, originated in 1910, when the Beppu Chamber of Commerce (now the Beppu Chamber of Commerce and Industry) organized a “Hot Springs Market Grand Sale” and began holding a festival in November, during the off-season for farmers. The festival has continued to this day as a way to express gratitude for the abundance and variety of hot spring water in Beppu. Beppu is blessed with eight different hot spring areas called “Bappu Hatto,” each boasting different characteristics and qualities of water, which makes it possible to enjoy a varied and interesting hot spring tour even just within the city of Beppu.
The festival is usually held every year between April 1, which is Onsen Appreciation Day, and the first weekend of April for a week-long series of celebrations combined with the opportunity to soak in many of the city’s public hot springs free of charge.
During the festival, the city bursts with the lively atmosphere of the numerous events held throughout the week, with the highlights being the “Mt. Ogi Fire Festival” and the “Yu Bukkake Festival.”
Adorning the scenery of Beppu with its vibrant green figure during summer and golden silhouette in autumn and winter, Mt. Ogi is a familiar mountain for the locals. The Mt. Ogi Fire Festival was started in 1976 and signals the arrival of spring by offering to the hot spring gods, who are said to rest on Mt. Ogi during winter, the grass and flowers that will bloom after the mountain is set on fire. “Yamayaki” or mountain burning is actually a Japanese tradition that has been practiced since ancient times and, by getting rid of dead grass, it helps the flora to thrive. The striking sight of the flames dancing in the dark is sure to enchant you!
During the “Yu Bukkake Festival,” a large number of “mikoshi” portable shrines parade through the streets of Beppu before gathering for the “yu bukkake” when tons of hot spring water are poured over the streets, mikoshi, and festival-goers. The atmosphere is so joyful that you’ll want to join the high-spirited locals in their energetic celebrations!
Among the mikoshi taking part in the festival, the “Yayoi Tengu Mikoshi” will probably catch your attention with its unusual appearance! This portable shrine is topped by the giant face of a “tengu” (legendary creatures in Shinto belief) which is thought to protect Beppu’s shopping district from natural disasters. During the rest of the year, the Yayoi Tengu Mikoshi can be visited in a dedicated area inside Beppu’s Yayoi Shopping Street, just a few minutes’ walk from Beppu Station.
Yoru no Umi Jigoku – Explore the Rare Scenery of Beppu’s “Hells” at Night Amidst Colorful Illuminations
Getting its name from its cobalt blue waters, “Umi Jigoku” or “Sea Hell” is the biggest and probably one of the most popular out of Beppu”s numerous “jigoku” or “hells,” hot springs where steam and bubbling hot mud gush out at a temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius. Particularly beautiful is a sightseeing course called “Beppu Jigoku Meguri Hells Tour” that lets visitors enjoy the gorgeous scenery of Umi Jigoku as well as other six hot spring ponds with surreal colors!
Umi Jigoku was created around 1,200 years ago with the eruption of Mt. Tsurumi. With its powerful trails of steam flowing into the sky, it makes for an impressive sight that any traveler to Beppu shouldn’t miss!
Only in September does Umi Jigoku open its doors at night for a magical light-up event that will show visitors a totally different side to the famous pond! Colorful illuminations entwine with projection mapping and music, tinging the natural scenery in shimmers and unexpected hues.
Venture down the many paths surrounding the pond and find a completely transformed panorama to the sight that you might have seen before sunset! Japanese “oni” demons are also projected on the surrounding buildings and on the floating steam, so you’ll get the impression of having entered a world of fantasy where anything is possible!
Beppu Hi no Umi Festival – Admire Incredible Fireworks by the Sea With This Iconic Summer Tradition
For those visiting Beppu in summer, the end of July is the perfect time to partake in one of Japan’s summer traditions: “hanabi” fireworks displays. Among the many held across Japan, “Beppu Hi no Umi Festival” is particularly magnificent as it is set against the backdrop of Beppu Bay with the fireworks creating incredible reflections over the surface of the sea.
You can choose to admire the fireworks while casually strolling around and enjoying the many food stalls set up for the festival, head to one of the free areas available at Matogahama Park and Beppu Spa Beach to admire the view, or you can reserve a seat for a fee and see the fireworks up close from the comfort of Kitahama Green Space. Special events like a BBQ dinner with seating are available at Beppu Spa Beach for an extraordinary meal time with fireworks!
Immerse Yourself in the Breathtaking Autumnal Scenery of Beppu With a Ride On the Beppu Ropeway
Boasting both a gorgeous sea and magnificent mountains, Beppu is surrounded by vast nature that visitors can enjoy in many different ways. If you happen to explore Beppu during the autumn season, the bright red foliage on Mt. Tsurumi is a must-see! Especially beautiful is the panorama admired from the gondolas of Beppu Ropeway. The 10-minute scenic ride will bring you 1,300 meters above sea level, floating over forests tinged in all shades of red to the top of Mt. Tsurumi where a small park offers even more panoramic views of the city below and the surrounding peaks.
Covered in a network of trails, the park offers a variety of observation decks from which you can soak in Beppu’s autumnal scenery and view the beautiful contrast with the blue Beppu Bay, Beppu City, and Mount Yufu. On days when visibility is good, you can even see as far as the Kuju Mountains. Also, since it is a sacred place revered since ancient times, at top of Mount Tsurumi, visitors can find Tsurumi Sanjo Gongen Shrine which has a vibrant “torii” shrine gate, as well as the statues of the “Seven Lucky Gods” enshrined along the trails of the park.
Beppu Christmas Fantasia – Make Your Christmas Nights Brighter With This Marvelous Fireworks Display
Make your winter hot spring trip even more exceptional by visiting Beppu for Christmas! Every year on the weekend closest to Christmas, a spectacular fireworks display adds to the magic of some of the most wonderful nights of the year! Over 10,000 fireworks are launched in sync with your favorite Christmas songs, coloring the night sky and the sea over the two days.
The city is livened up by live stages and food stalls selling typical Japanese winter street food that will warm you up! Another great part about spending your Christmas vacation in a hot spring town such as Beppu is that after a chilly night out, you get to jump right in an onsen bath and soak the cold away in the warm water, ending your day in the most relaxing way possible!
Admire the Glistening Spectacle of Mt. Tsurumi Covered in Silver Frost
The summit of Mt. Tsurumi is also worth visiting during the winter months as you can witness a completely different panorama and a rare natural phenomenon: “juhyo,” when trees covered in silver frost create a fantastic scenery of ice and snow. This already rare occurrence is even more so in southern Japan, so many visit Mt. Tsurumi to get a chance to immerse themselves in these picture-perfect scenes of winter. When the conditions are right, the entire summit is completely covered in white, glimmering under the sunshine and creating a stunning contrast with the blue sea in the distance!
Board the Beppu Ropeway and enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view as you head to the top of Mt. Tsurumi where a silver world awaits! One of the highlights of the area during the winter season is a visit to Tsurumi Sanjo Gongen Shrine, as the vermillion torii and buildings stand out beautifully against the pure white snow!
Enjoy the Seasonal Beauty of Beppu
A city blessed with abundant nature, Beppu is the perfect place to refresh yourself by soaking in rejuvenating hot springs and enjoying amusements and events unique to the city. No matter when you visit, Beppu is sure to charm you with its seasonal beauty!