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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Summer Holiday 2006 - Day 6

Our overnight bus from Kagoshima arrived in Oita on the morning of Day 6 around 06:00. I remembered waking up multiple times during night, and found that the bus was stopped somewhere, not moving. I don't know whether it was traffic lights, or the driver stopping to have a smoke, but I remember wondering if we were actually going to get to the other side of the island at that rate. So, it seemed a little odd to arrive schedule despite my recollection telling me that we had hardly been moving at all during the night.

Anyway, from Oita we jumped on a train and headed to Beppu, one of the most famous hot spring towns in all of Japan - the Rotorua of Japan to you New Zealanders reading this.

On arrival first priority was breakfast, but at this time of day in a tourist town there aren't all that many places to eat. We headed east from the station towards the waterfront area, lined with hotels, in search of some kind of morsel. Eventually, after coincidently locating the hotel where would stay this evening along the way, we found a Gusto store, which Kana tells me is basically a 24-hour restaurant chain that you can always depend on in such times of need. Yay for Gusto! After having a nice cheap breakfast there, with lots of orange juice and milk tea, we headed back towards the station, in search of a public bath. The lady who served us at Gusto told us that we could find one back towards the station which should be open at this time.

Sure enough we found it, and got washed up. It was just a plain old standard bath, nothing flash at all - only about 200 yen or so. I was amused by another foreign tourist guy who turned up there just as I was getting out. It seems he was looking for something a little more classy, as he spent but 30 seconds in the washroom before leaving, with a mutter of "this sucks" on his way out. You can't please everyone! I was happy for the bath after the night on the bus.

Anyway, after cooling off on the 2nd floor of the bath house for an hour, we headed back towards the train station. From here we'd take a bus to the other side of town, where there are a range of hot spring type attractions and little mini zoos.

This is Beppu's famous "Jigoku-meguri". There are 8 different attractions, each with their own hot pools (just like Rotorua, but these places were mostly concentrated together in walking distance).

Many of them also have animals. We saw crocs (or alligators?), elephants, hippos, not to mention man-eating piranna fish and some others as well. There is a pass ticket with which you can see all 8 attractions, so we bought that planning to go around and see the entire lot. Along with souvenir shops, there is also the occasional foot bath to enjoy as well. In shorts and sandals, I took advantage of each opportunity.

To the right - "beauty and the beast".

That was the Hippo's best pose. Mouth open, waiting for potatoes from tourists.

I found it to be somewhat pitiful watching these animals reduced to feeding in an almost brain-dead fashion on whatever food it was that the tourists were able to purchase to give to them.

The elephant too just stood around sucking up the biscuits thrown to it, or in the case of tourists with long arms, hand fed.

I decided (again) that it was much more enjoyable watching animals in their natural environments, as was the case back on Yakushima. There, people could observe the animals in their natural environment, yet the animals were fending for themselves, rustling around for food by themselves, living a normal animal life in their habitat.

Still, it's always interesting to see such "wild"life.

It's quite a different style of hot pool here in Beppu compared to Rotorua - the surrounds are all quite heavily developed as you can see. No massive geysers here like Pohutu in Rotorua either - just lots of hot pools.

Later that afternoon, after we had made our way around 6 of the attrations, we heard a storm approaching and took shelter in a little restaurant, hoping that the rain would subside in the meantime.

It didn't, so we gave up on visiting the final two attractions which we further away from the 6 we had just been to, and took a bus back to Beppu station, and went to check into the hotel.

We arrived at our hotel a little bit on the early side, having again having had a long day got washed up in advance of dinner.

Our room was a sea front one, but due to the stormy weather we didn't really have such a great view in the evening.

We took a stroll outside along the waterfront to kill time before our appointed dinner time.

As you can see, it was quite a flash dinner. After chowing down, this being a hot spring town we had another bath before retiring for the evening. We'd leave early the next morning to catch a train so that we could spend the best part of the day in Hiroshima, back on Japan's main island of Honshu. Stay tuned!

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