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“Jigoku Mushi”: Healthy Gourmet Experience in the World Largest Onsen Town Beppu, Oita

About Beppu Onsen

Beppu Onsen in Oita Prefecture of Kyushu region is a famous hot spring resort in Japan together with Yufuin Onsen also in the same Oita Prefecture. Visitors that are seeking high-quality water and healing continue to come here domestically or from abroad.

Beppu Onsen produces as much as 87,600 liters of hot spring water per day, and this area offers the largest volume of hot water for bathing in the world. And so-called “Jigokou Meguri (Tour of Hell)” in which you visit several hot springs is essential for sightseeing in Beppu.

Kannawa district is particularly popular for sightseeing in Beppu. This time we are introducing “Jigoku Mushi (Steamed in Hell)”, which you can experience there, based on this author’s experience.

<What is “Jigoku Mushi”?>
It is a method of cooking to steam vegetables, meat, fish and shellfish, etc., using the steam from the hot springs. Hot water (onsen), ‘hot as hell’, flowed out of the Beppu area since over a thousand years ago. Because it was difficult for people to even come near it, it was called “jikoku (hell)”, and this name is still used today.


Illuminating Clouds of Steam

Writer’s Photo

I visited Beppu when the sun had just set. In the Kannawa Onsen area, elegant views expanded as steam from hot springs was illuminated with blue or green lights. When I kept walking, “Jigoku Mushi Kobo, Kannawa” came into my view, which was the destination of this time.

Writer’s Photo

In the Kobo (Studio), you first purchase tickets at the ticket dispenser. Ingredients are of course sold here, but you can bring them in as long as you pay for corkage fees. This time I obtained ingredients in a nearby supermarket. I bought sausages, sliced pork ribs without bones, corn, sweet potatoes, onions, perilla leaves, bean sprouts, and I added eggs bought in the Kobo.

After that, the staff carefully explained to me the amount of my ingredients and approximate cooking time for them, and I bought tickets accordingly for using pots. If ingredients need to be cut, the staff will cut them for you at request.


Let’s Go into the Kobo!

Writer’s Photo: Entrance to the Caldrons of Hell

Writer’s Photo

I put the foodstuff into colanders and finally went into the Kobo following the staff’s instruction. Hell was no exaggeration and the place was filled with considerable amount of steam and smell of Sulphur. The time to steam differs depending on the ingredients, so I put a timer after putting them in the pots. I would wait for a short while in the guest seat until the timer goes off “pi-pi-pi”.


“Jigoku Mushi” was Complete! And I Ate them!

Writer’s Photo

Writer’s Photo

Writer’s Photo

Natural flavors of the ingredients was brought out in all the ingredients, and they were really delicious. I felt the good taste was condensed, as they were steamed quickly at high temperatures.

Sweet potatoes, corn and eggs are classic, but please try the combination of “pork rib, perilla leaves, and bean sprouts”, too. They are a wonderful combination when you eat them with ponzu sauce provided there.


This time we have introduced Jigoku Mushi experience in Beppu Onsen town, where hot springs steam up. The delicious taste and fantastic atmosphere of onsen town will never fail to capture your heart. If you go to Beppu Onsen for sightseeing in Oita Prefecture, please don’t forget to experience “Jigoku Mushi”, too. Information: Map

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About the author

I cherish the history, culture and nature of Japan. In university, I majored in history and I currently often travel to see things that I have not seen around the world through my own eyes. I hope to convey to all of you, the excitement I feel through such experiences. I hope you come to love Japan even more.

View all articles by Mikiko