Today, the weather was miserable. I waited in my room until around 11 AM for any sign of relief in the rain, but none came. I decided to just set out and deal with it. I got a map from the front desk of my hotel. This map turned out to be incredibly misleading in terms of distances and I ended up walking about four miles from the train station in the pouring rain to get to the jigoku, or the hells. The jigoku are geothermic hot springs which are only for viewing. Some of them are extremely beautiful, others less so and have been turned into small zoos. From down the road, the hells give off an incredible amount of steam which was my marker for where I needed to get to. There are about six clustered together in the span of about a city block and then three more a few miles away. Since admission to each jigoku was about $5, I only went to four.
The first hell I went to was Shiraike. It is a designated place of scenic beauty and had a small Japanese garden surrounding it. In addition, it had a small aquarium containing a fish that lives in the geothermic pools which is very closely related to certain creatures from the Jurassic Era. Next, I went to Oniyama (Demon Mountain) which isn’t much to talk about except it had a zoo of about thirty crocodile. The description said that the crocodile like the hot steam water and breed easily there.
Next, I walked over to the Yama Jigoku which had a zoo with plenty of different animals including a hippo, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one in person.
Finally, I went to Oniishibozu (Shaven Head) Jigoku. This one got its name because the bubbles coming up from it are said to look like the heads of Buddhist monks.
I would have liked to go to one more hell in the Shibaseki district where the sulfur actually turned the water red. This is considered to be one of the most scenic hells. However, the rain was pretty much unbearable at this point after enduring it for about four hours, so I got in a taxi and went home.
Tomorrow, I go to Kumamoto for one night and then it’s on to Nagasaki, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. See you soon!