May 112002
 

Okay, so these Internet Cafe’s, the “I Love You” ones, there’s one here in Beppu as well. Can’t go wrong here.

Anyway, I caught the ferry down to Beppu, which is on the east coast of Kyushu. Just from the first impression, I reallt like it here. I hadn’t caught up with the unique smells yet though. Although it cost way too much money, it wasn’t too bad. They had this section of carpet in the middle of the deck (inside, with the seats around them) for people to sleep on. I’d heard about this before on some of the overnight ferries. Anyway, for a 3 hour trip someone came in, grabbed a pillow shaped bit of foam, a blanket and went straight to sleep. These Japanese have a thing about the floor, how they sleep and all that. When I get home, I’m sure I’ll be doing some weird things in relation to furniture.

I’ve only got about 20 days to go. As I’m on the downhill run, I’m starting to pack more into each day. Although today is day one of the new regime, it may not last that long. I think once I activate the 7 day rail pass, and I can start catching the express trains it’ll be really good.

Beppu is the Onsen (Hot Spring) capital of Japan from what I can tell, there are thousands of them here. The Minshuku where I am staying seems to have hot water from an Onsen on tap. I think everyine has it. When I came in on the boat, I could see a huge number of smoke plumes. I now realise they’re steam. Walking along in the street there are breather pipes for steam outlets, and steam coming up from the gutter. As such, in some parts, it stinks of rotten egg gas. So much so that if I farted, like a really, really stinky one, like a wallpaper peeling extravaganza, you wouldn’t notice (except for the noise I suppose, and sometime not then from the noise of the steam pipes.)

I went to this one today (Onsen, not a fart extravaganza) which was more of a sauna. Lets just say, compared to the last place I went to, single sex nudity wasn’t an option. This was not a big place. Thankfully I was the only person going in at the time.

The Japanese word for ouch is “Itai.” I don’t know why. Ouch seems to come out a lot easier.

There was this bloke who showed me the wash room, and after I had stripped off he proceeded to tip hot water over my male bits so I could wash them. Very hot water. Hot Onsen water. The word for ouch in Japanese seemed to fail me at that point.

I put on the bright lime green swimmers they had leant me because I didn’t know I needed some. I might go shopping tomorrow for some, as I might actually go swimming down here one day soon as well. I don’t know the Japanses word for “boardies.”

There was this low wooden door, it seemed important. The woman opens it and points for me to go in. It looked like one of those wood fired pizza ovens, except it had a straw floor on it. Maybe closer to a pit roast. I went in and was shown how to lie down and take it all in. After about 5 minutes of lying in there I was pretty well done, or maybe just medium roast. I smelled like a farm (from the straw), and I think I had sweated about a litre of water. After that she opened the door to let cool air in and I went for a few more minutes. It was, so to speak, very very cool. That’s cool as in funky, not cool as in chilly. (More like chilli.)

Did a few touristy things, went to Chinoike-jigoku, which is also called the Blood Pool Hell. It looked as good in the pictures. Really good. It’s way to hot to bath in, which is a shame because it’d make a great photo. There were these carp in a fresh water pool just next to it. I wondered how long carp take to cook in 80 degree water. Also went to Bozu-jigoku, which is a bubbling mud place. It really stank. Like, not just room clearing fart, but vomit inducing cavern filling rippers. It looked like the photos as well.

But in a freak co-incidence of co-ordination, as I went to get onto the bus after Chinoike-jigoku, two English backpackers (sisters) I had met in Hiroshima got off the bus. So we’ll catch up later for dinner at a Japanese pub called an Izakaya. I went there last by myself, sad but true. When I went in, I wanted the waitress to ask if it was just one person “Hito ri,” so I could respond with “So, desu ne.” It is so, isn’t it. But a little while later, after Bozo-jigoku I returned to the station, and another English backpacker friend was there with her Japanese friend, who’s mobile I had been trying to call for 3 days. So, I travel by ferry for 4 hours to get to another part of Japan, and run into two groups of backpackers from England within 4 hours of each other. (Actually, I knew they were going to be in Kyushu, I just didn’t expect tere to be here.)

I think someone moved away from me on the bus because I smelt so bad from the bubbling mud place.

Anyway, will probably be here for another day and then off to Mt. Aso which is an active-ish volcano. More sulphur smelling Jim I suppose (like what’s new!)