Before leaving Beppu we made a visit to the Beppu Beach Sand Bath, or Sand Onsen.
Beppu is famous for their onsen. You can literally see steam pouring into the sky over the whole town and there is a strong smell of sulfur in the air. These natural hot springs are filled with minerals that are good for health.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have back problems and that I've tried just about everything to alleviate the pain. My wife found this place and, once she suggested it, I knew I had to try it even though our hotel had a private onsen. Lucky for me, the Beppu Beach Sand Bath allows foreigners, gaijiin, with tattoos as many public onsen do not.
It was quite far out of our way as the trains do not travel anywhere near the beach and nowhere near our hotel. We had to take a bus to the coast but it was fine and totally worth the travel time. I think the bus ride is only 15 minutes or so from the JR Beppu Station though.
The fee was 1000 yen, about $10, which included use of a yukata, a casual summer kimono or robe. They charge extra for towels so don't forget to bring a towel! I think they can only service about a dozen or so people at time so you may have to wait your turn. It was a little overcast with chance of rain when we went so we did not have to wait very long. They do have snacks and tea while you wait. They also have a foot bath for you to relax in. The ocean views are great as well.
When its your turn, you strip naked in a changing room and slip into your yukata. Then you head to the sand area where they have already dug out your spot. You lay down and they put a brick under your head for support. Now you get buried alive! They begin gently shoveling sand on top of you, covering everything but your head. The sand is very hot and heavy at first although the yukata shields you from the heat a bit so you don't get burned.
The weight and heat of the sand, combined with the sound of the ocean is very relaxing. I fell asleep soon and apparently snored pretty loudly. Oof! After 15 minutes they woke me up and began digging me out. After climbing out of the sand in a state of zen you return to the building to shower off. They also have an onsen inside you can relax in for a bit.
Beppu is an magical place that is not to be missed if you make it to Kyushu. I will write more about it soon. Wait until I tell you about the 8 Hells of Beppu!
Find more information https://www.city.beppu.oita.jp/seikatu/gaikokujinmuke/ei/detail12.html