Last night was Furo-no-hi, that is to say it was the 26th day of the month. By reading the characters differently, i.e., furo, it has the same pronunciation as the word for, get this "bath."
AS such, a group of hotels in Beppu got together to do a Furo-no-hi campaign. On the 26th day of every month, you can enter the baths at a variety of hotels for a mere 260 yen ($2.50). The lower average price is about 500 yen, so it's a good deal.
So I called the most expensive hotel in town to see if they were doing cheap baths and they weren't, so I gave up. Yes, I know I give up too quickly, but in any case I will take advantage of the bathing day, maybe next month.
So Jude and I went to the Myoban Hot Springs area way up on the hill. The onsens their are strong sulfur stinking ones. When you drive up the hill there are signs that say "No gawking." I can't think of a better translation. It's a warning sign that tells you not to stare at the scenery while you drive. And it's a winding road and if you did do that (No I never have : o )you might wreck. There is also a yellow road sign with a picture of steam on it. Warning; Hot Spring Steam. Because when that stuff is really belching out, it can be thick. Maybe not so hard to see the road, but you get easily ditracted. Plus it's really hot and stinky and if you stopped off to check it out you might get burned.
There are also som little thatched cottage looking things up here where they harvest sulfur crust from the hot vapor vents. They package these into bathing powders so you can have a stinky sulfur bath in the comfort of your own home. I love sulfur!
Somewhere around here are some "secret baths (秘湯)." They aren't all that secret but they are naturally occuring hot springs. Not like the local bathhouse. These are in the woods, on the river. I've been to a place like this in Kagoshima. It is very cool to wade in a warm river. You have to be careful of hot spots and gas vents tho. I actually remember crawling over the barricade that said "Danger: Poisonous Gases" to get into the one in Kagoshima. I'm still alive. I want to go here. And the cool thing is since you cannout get your Spaport stamped in the middle of the woods, you have to take a photo to prove you were there. Then the tourism bureau will "OK" your bath and give you a stamp at the office.
Maybe I can go find one this weekend.
I was on the official "Way of the Hot Springs" website today. The campaign started in 2001 and the first "master" did 88 hot springs in 4 days! Is that nuts or what. Every year they have a festival and during that festival a number of people see if they can do 88 in a week. I guess it gets addicitive.
Don't worry, I can quit anytime.