A day in Kannawa
What's better than just visiting one onsen? Or two? Going to a plethora of onsens for feet, hands, body, or just for the marvellous sightseeing. This is what a day in Kannawa onsen feels like.
About three weeks ago, my friends and I were having a casual conversation about our spring break and the topic was on tourism centres. Kannawa came up and we realised that none of us has ever been there.
The day after this conversation, we began to make a plan for a full day trip exploring this hot spring haven, and we went the next day. Needless to say, this was one of the trips I have been on during my time in Japan.
I hope this article gives you an idea of what the buzz on Kannawa is all about, what you can do there and the things you can explore!
What's Kannawa all about?
As a novice Japanese speaker, I went to Kannawa with three of my friends: one of them being a Japanese national, the others intermediate-level speakers, as well as one freshman friend for a day trip. The entire trip for me was about ¥2,750, and the specifics of this will be discussed further in the article.
Kannawa Onsen (鉄輪温泉) is a popular onsen tourist centre in the heart of Beppu, a bayside city in South Japan. Known also as the "Hottest Place In Beppu", the name Kannawa onsen refers to the source of the water, and there is a range of affordable bathhouses and foot onsens to sink yourselves in.
In Kannawa, there are up to six different hells or Jigoku (地獄):
- Umi-jigoku (sea hell)
- Oniishibozu-jigoku (shaven head of monks' hell)
- Yama-jigoku (mountain hell)
- Kamado-jigoku (cooking pot hell)
- Oniyama-jigoku (monster mountain hell)
- Shiraike-jigoku (white pond hell)
How do I get there?
Kannawa is easily accessible by taking the Kamenoi Bus, or by a taxi from Beppu Station (this is rather expensive though, so I would opt for the bus instead).
The Kamenoi Bus runs from Beppu Station to Kannawa Bus Stop, and you can purchase a round ticket for ¥1000.
What can I do in Kannawa?
Tourists can either soak in, admire the alluring aesthetics, or take postcard-worthy pictures. I mostly admired the aesthetics with my friends as we strolled around the various bathhouses. Most of them are separated by gender, and a private one can also be opted for.
Each of these hells has its own unique style and attraction, and there is also a hell tour, known as Jigoku Meguri, which takes you on a trip to the 8 nearby hot springs. My friends and I couldn't afford this tour, so we made our own experience by deciding where to go and what to explore by ourselves.
From curry to confectionery shop, trying the therapeutic and thermal foot onsens, I would say we did pretty well compared to those who went on the hell tour. What was my experience like?
Aside from the hell tour experience, there are other smaller, unique things to explore in Kannawa. This ranges from hidden bookshops, patisseries, to western-inspired restaurants, or Japanese confectionery stores.
My friends and I opted to explore these places and started with a small local book cafe, Yume Juya (ゆめ十屋), that sells pastries and curry dishes, ranging from deer to butter curry options. We all had the same dish with both curries, which stimulated our tastebuds with a myriad of explosive flavours upon the first bite.
Both curries had a savoury and spicy taste, but I think I preferred the butter chicken curry more. The curry dishes ranged from about ¥800 to ¥1200 depending on if you get it with both curries or just one. I highly recommend this cafe shop as somewhere to come to; there are also options to purchase snacks or just hang out and get a cup of tea while taking in the views of this district.
After lunch, we took a stroll across the long, never-ending streets and came across different souvenir and confectionery shops. From the entry of Kannawa, there is a small downhill, towards the left after the foot-bath onsen, a cozy, petit pastry shop can be found that sells one of the best cheesecakes in Kannawa.
I had a cheesecake which cost me ¥300 but it was well worth the price. My friends got ice cream and mochi, which both went for about ¥200 to ¥300. This was a bit more expensive, as I got a caramel-flavoured one for ¥450. I wouldn't recommend buying boba here unless you're willing to try it for the first time.
**Helpful tip: Try to take a picture of the map of Kannawa once getting off the bus at the bus stop, or just make sure you have data if you’re afraid of getting lost.
If you have an adventurous spirit, this is definitely the place for you. Nowhere in Kannawa is the same, meaning you will always find new sights to be dazzled by. Kannawa is a therapeutic place to be in, and if you ever find yourself in Beppu, coming here is a must!
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