Monday, July 21, 2008

Golden Week in Kyushu Part 3: Hell and Burial

Here are a few more pictures from waaaaaay back on Spring Vacation, when we travelled to Kyushu. You last saw us hiking in the volcanic mountains after which we proceeded to Beppu, a town famous for its "hells" - natural hot springs that are too hot to swim in!

Due to naturally occuring minerals in the water these steaming hot ponds come in a really cool range of colours - vibrant blue, turquoise, milky white, or blood red. It's a very touristy place though and a lot of the 'hells' have been done up with cheesy and sometimes morally questionable side attractions (particularly one featuring a variety of animals in miserably insufficient habitats). But the 'hells' themselves are an interesting site to see.

To get around to all of the hells we joined a full-on Japanese tour group! We didn't understand much at all of the information but at least the guide took our (and all other members's) picture next to this sign which says "Sea Hell" - so named for its blue colour.

Of course every tourist town needs a mascott, and when your biggest attraction is "hell" the natural mascott choice is a giant red devil with a spiked club. This guy really isn't cute enough to impress the Japanese girls but I made friends with him handily.

Now there's a cute little devil!

I packed light for this trip, so it's a good thing this walk-in steam cleaner was available. It cleans your clothing as you pass by! Is there anything Japan can't do more efficiently than everyone else???

Then Tara got lost in the steam.
Actually I lied it doesn't clean your clothes, but the sign in the top left claims benefits for your throat. A popular local food is hell-steamed eggs. There are so many uses for steam!

Hands down the most wickedly misleading name of anywhere I've visited. Come on, who imagines a peaceful Japanese garden when they hear the name "BLOOD HELL!!!"

Hmm....let me guess... they've started growin people in an attempt to solve Japan's population problem?

Nope, they've just buried Ian. In hot sands! (Yes everything in this part of Japan is hot and spews steam from every crevice). This was a bit expensive I think (around $10 for 15 minutes), considering that you're paying to be buried in dirt, but I did it anyway for the sake of a unique experience.
After changing into another too-short-housecoat I laid down in the sand and was fully covered. The sensation is almost like being anesthetized as your body feels imobilized and you sense warmth pulse through you. It feels quite relaxing for about 8 minutes, and then you begin to sweat, it soon becomes unbearably hot.

Humorous anecdote: You had to take a number and wait your turn to be buried in this giant sandbox. After waiting for a good while and hearing numbers all around mine being called I went to the front desk to check if there had been a mistake. There had, and I caught them just in time because they had just begun the final burial of the day. Of course there were many apologies and I was rushed into an empty sandbox all by myself, which is why I appear in this picture as the most prominent pharaoh with my many disciples behind me for support in the next world... (BLOOD HELL???).

Anyway, that more or less wraps up our Spring vacation. After returning from that Meaghan joined our party for a few weeks, and I believe there are some entertaining pictures from our misadventures that I shall post on here soon.

Recently we've been making a lot of preparations for THE BIG TRIP which will commence OCTOBER 3RD when we depart from Japan. Other than that we've been doing a lot of sweating since it is hot as Blood Hell here right now.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer!



Anonymous said...

Sounds like a most interesting trip! Love seeing your pics, I look forward to them. Lots of Love Momd

Janet said...

Bloody Hell, the pictures of hell are stunning! Thanks for sharing.

Meaghan said...

o.k., I've SEEN these before.... eesh

your friends in Japan said...

Thanks for the comments!

Meaghan, hold your horses! Not everyone came to Japan to see our pictures after we got back from the trip. :P
By the way, if there are any good pictures you'd like to put up, or stories you'd like to tell, send them along!


Anonymous said...

Love the picture of Tara in the's great!