Beppu Onsen


( Beppu Onsen )

Beppu Onsen (別府温泉) is a group of hot springs in the city of Beppu, Ōita in Japan. Beppu Onsen is divided into eight major hot spring areas known as "Beppu Hatto".

The most significant characteristic of Beppu's hot springs is the richness of its resources. The volume of water discharged is second only to that of the Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

There are 2,909 hot spring vents within the city, and these account for more than 10% of the 27,644 hot spring vents in Japan, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of the Environment in 2004. Statistics from the Beppu City Hall show that more than 130,000 tons of hot spring water gushes from the ground every day. This is the second largest amount of hot spring water discharge in the world, and the largest amount in Japan.

Natural iron hot spring at Beppu Onsen

According to Iyo-no-Kuni Topography written in the beginning of the 8th century, once in the age of the gods, Sukunabikona (スクナビコナ) and Ōkuninushi visited Iyo-no-Kuni, now known as Ehime Prefecture. Sukunabikona fainted from illness. With a deep sorrow Ōkuninushi placed a long pipe at the bottom of the sea all the way through from Dōgo Onsen to Beppu to supply therapeutic thermal waters for him to bathe, by the grace of which he was saved. Also Bungo Topography tells about Akayusen (Chinoike Jigoku).

It is reported that in the Kamakura period Ōtomo Yoriyasu established some sanatoria in Beppu, Kannawa and Hamawaki to cure samurai wounded in the war against the Mongolian Army. From the Meiji period onward Beppu Onsen made great progress with the boring technique of Kazusa, in which more than 1000 wells were completed by the end of Meiji. In the 1960s and 1970s, after World War Two, Beppu Onsen made rapid development with social stability and economical revival. Especially from about 1919 to 1955, the amount of hot water taken rose to use the heat in agriculture and salt production, many problems happened; for example, the depletion of the old source of the springs and a decrease in temperature. Because of this, a new source of hot springs was searched and in 1957, a new layer of hot springs was found in 200m~300m below ground and was started for use.

Since 1964 using hot springs for salt production has been banned, however, using them for agriculture and aqua farming of fish has continued for the moment.

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