Here's a shot from when we visited Beppu, Japan. You can see the clouds rising from a steam oven of sorts they've built over a steam fissure in the ground. They trap the piping hot gasses to cook food which you can buy. There were local dishes as well as corn on the cob and other snacks to buy. We were there a little early so we didn't manage to get anything from this particular spot, but it was lovely.
I've always enjoyed geothermal attractions, and these don't disappoint. They're not overly flashy or upmarket, nor are they undeveloped. They're fairly simple and make good use of the beauty of nature that surrounds this area. In fact, Beppu was one of the greenest cities we visited in Japan, with many houses sporting trees and gardens and just a general lush feel to the whole area.
We took the bus to this location, and walked back down the hill, visiting the various places as we went, which I recommend as they're all within walking distance of each other. You'll also come across some very nice residences as you reach the downtown area. Once you get to the bottom you'll find places to catch buses wherever else you might like to go. Just note that the buses/public transport in the smaller cities in Japan often stop after 9 pm. I highly recommend making use of them in the morning or before lunch, and after dark, walking around instead.
You often hear about how weird Japan is from people who've lived there or visited. We stayed on the island of Kyushu, which is more laid back and 'normal' compared with Kyoto or Tokyo. Unless you visit Beppu, of course. A spa-resort town, it has a little taste of hedonism for anyone. Not to say that it's particularly weird, but it would make a great party place to visit during spring break, if you wanted to simply relax and soak your old bones, or if you enjoyed a healthy, alternative sexual lifestyle. Ahem. There's plenty of steamy things to see and do in Beppu!
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