Woke up late in my sleeping compartment on the ferry - the crew was waiting on us to leave; we were the last ones off, perhaps because we slept through the sounds of docking and didn't understand the announcement. Then we walked for almost THREE miles for the last two hours of the morning. Luckily we finally convinced Chris that walking another three to four miles with all our bags just to find a shitty youth hostel was a BAD idea. Made reservations at the Hamenoi Hotel and set out to find the bus/train station.
Beppu is beautiful; similar to other Japanese cities in layout but it's a coastal town with really friend people and cool sunny days. Many more parks and greenery here than in the big metropolis of Osaka where I live. The weather has been awesome, even a bit on the warm side. I got a little bit of a blushy warm suntan on my arms, chest, and face. Discovered a pretty little quaint beach/park where we stopped to rest during our long morning trek.
No lunch - got started straight away for the "Eight Hells of Beppu". The "hells" are really jigoku, hot steam and water welling up from the ground. They are called "hells" because they resemble the Buddhist idea of what hell is like. This area sits above molten earth, magma, that is very very close to the surface. Many hot springs result (jigoku): steam from the earth, wells of bubbling mud, pools of creamy, milky and mirror-still water, creating a place where tropical plants and animals can thrive.
It was all beautiful, breathtaking, frightening in its power and potential to destroy, like latent savage energy. Uplifting in the human ingenuity, bravery and craft to harness the earth's power and turn it into productivity or into shrines to praise and transform the fury of the gods into pragmatic good uses or in the modern practical survivor planting exotic flora or raising dangerous fauna (they used, and still use the steam to creative tropic environments to raise crocodiles and grow fruits and all kinds of wild, crazy, gorgeous flowers). The main problem I had with it all was the caged and neglected animals (there will be many pictures on my new website when it's up). The hippo with his tusks cut off, the sad donkeys in the hot sun, the elephant in a too-small cage, all the animals at the front of cages begging for food, having lived in captivity so long that they know only how to get attention to get treats to eat.
Ate Mickey-Dee's with John for dinner. Got back to the hotel to share a room with the other girls. Got up the nerve to go to the onsen, the public bath with several hot and cold pools of water and a sauna. The hotel's onsen was heated by the natural springs and jigoku. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed because my friends came with me. Had there been only strangers, it wouldn't have been a problem. An interesting experience I would like to repeat now that I know what to do and how to do it.