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Eight Hells of Beppu

Blood Pond Hell... For some it became the sheer blood hell—the Japanese used the pond to boil sinners in their own blood and dirt...

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The Japanese city of Beppu is blessed with nearly 2,800 hot springs which makes the city the second largest source of thermal waters after Yellowstone National Park in the USA. Eight most distinguished ponds are called '8 hells of Beppu'. This refers to the ancient Japanese belief according to which the hell is structured into eight layers.

In fact, Chinoike Jigoku or Blood Pond Hell has become a sheer inferno to many Japanese. Not that long ago, the sinners or rather the unfortunate were sentenced to tortures in that waterbasin. They were meant to boil to death. Knowing this fact, the pond looks even more dreadful, bloody indeed. However, it's not blood that makes it look that red, this colour is attributed to iron oxide.

Luckily, instead of boiling humans, locals nowadays shifted to soybeans. Every February Onishi people gather for Onishi Setsubun festival and perform a rite of throwing soybeans into the demons inhabiting the pond. That is supposed to clear their homes from evil spirits.

Blood Pond Hell is one of the oldest hot springs in Beppu, dating back to nearly 700 AD. It's the most popular among the nine hells, owing to its color and dark history. Other 'hells' are less hellish in appearance, though unique in color and structure. There are blue, green, turquoise and grey muddy ponds. Still, the colour doesn't mean they are cooler—some of them hit 150 °C.

You may even spot some wildlife around acclimated to the heat, which is actually hardly bearable in summertime. Therefore, if you plan a visit to eight hells, choose the period between autumn and spring.

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