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Unzen Onsen Kyushu Trip Part.4 Nagasaki


(7) Get steamed at Unzen Hot Spring (Unzen Jigoku Onsen)



Unzen Jigoku Onsen Hot Spring, Jigoku means "Hell", what a scary name for a hot spring. It is a famous hot spring town on the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture.


About 2 hours on the highway from Yoshinogari Ruins. I wish I could say it was an easy drive to Unzen, but it was quite a hard drive. At least, it was a comfortable drive to the foot of Mt. Unzen. However, there is a mountain road called Dragon Road just before arriving at the hot spring town high up in the mountain. I rented a cheapest car with no horsepower, so my car was having a difficult time going up.


The roads are empty and there are almost no cars, but there are a lot of motorcycles. It looks like a mecca for motorbike touring. The curvy road is narrow and it is difficult to overtake. There were dozens of motorbikes front and behind. You can see the ocean from the Dragon Road. If you're coming in winter, it's better to come with a powerful car with solid snow tires.


Many bikers in Nagasaki keep their headlights on even during the day.


view from dragon road
view from dragon road

It smells of sulfur from the time I'm looking for a parking lot. It reminded me of Mt.Iou in Hokkaido. Well, there's no doubt that my clothes will smell of sulfur again. The image of Unzen Jigoku (Hell) hot spring in my mind is like a place where criminals are hunted down in old Japanese TV dramas.


Unzen hell hot spring entrance
Unzen hell hot spring entrance

I don't need to look where the hell hot spring is. There is a place where the whole road is completely covered by steam. Well, it looks like hell to me. Tourist information board simply says “Hell”.



It was so amazing that I lost my words. In addition to the strong smell of sulfur and rising steam, I can feel the volcanic heat under my shoe soles.


Immediately after entering Unzen Jigoku Hot Spring, there is a hut called Unzen Jigoku Kobo. I thought they were selling boiled eggs, but they are steamed eggs. Well, if you peel the shell, inside is the same. They advertise that if you eat these eggs, you will have the benefit of prolonging your life. Even if there is no profit, I should eat it situation wise. The egg was very hot when I got it, so I took a walk through the hell while keeping it in my bag to cool down.


Unzen hell jigoku onsen hot spring cat
Hell gradian, a cat

There is Unzen Hell foot steaming. Can I call this a footbath without actual hot water? Even with sneakers on, I can feel the heat, so I am not going to use this foot spa. On the other side of the fence, where it looks hotter, a cat is being cooked. Wait, are you taking a nap in this hell, kitty?? As expected of cats, their resistance to heat is beyond human understanding.


The Unzen area was designated as Japan's first national park in 1934. This Unzen Onsen has a cross monument for Christian martyrs. What happened here in the Edo period is a sad story, so I will omit it now. In the Meiji era, it became a popular hot spring town that foreign tourists also visit.


Daikyokan Jigoku Observatory
Boiled egg at Daikyokan Jigoku Observatory

Boiling hot water and steam gushing out here and there. It is a spectacle worthy of being called hell. It's a pity that I can't soak in the hot springs in this town due to my travel plan. The hot spring town is divided into three areas, Furuyu (old hot spring), Shinyu (new hot spring), and Kojigoku (small hell). You can enjoy the hot springs at the ryokan inn's day-trip hot spring course or at the public baths. I see a lot of Yunohana (hot spring deposits) are building up on the surface. I thought about scraping it off and taking it home as bath salt, but I decided to buy it from the shop properly.


My clothes and car smelled of sulfur as I expected, it’s time to drive to Nagasaki city. Tomorrow I will go to the main event of this trip, the Gunkanjima (battleship island) tour, a World Heritage Site.


While stopping at a beautiful sunset spot on the way, we head to Nagasaki city bay. I didn't use the highway route suggested by google maps, and took the coastal road that takes 1 hour and 17 minutes.


Sunset from Shimabara Peninsula
Sunset from Shimabara Peninsula

We will be staying at the Comfort Hotel Nagasaki near the port. It's reasonable, and it's convenient because I can keep parking the car at their partner parking lot when I go on a Gunkanjima tour the next morning. For tonight's dinner, of course, we will go to the famous Nagasaki Chinatown.


We ate at a large Chinese restaurant just to the right of the main gate in Chinatown. The stir-fried eggplant was very delicious. I also ate kakuni manju (pork sandwiches) in the shopping district. Afterwards, we took a walk to the harbor. A large sailing ship (Kanko Maru) is parked. Wow, I want to ride it. I wonder which ship I will get on for the Gunkanjima cruise tomorrow. Around the port area, there is the Nagasaki Prefectural Museum of Art and the illuminated Mizubenomori Park, which are beautiful even at night.


Nagasaki ship Kankomaru
Kanko Maru (Yamasa Kaiun) and Nagasaki Port

On the way back to the hotel, I saw a wide illuminated bridge. I can see long Japanese-style whitewashed walls and traditional looking houses. Eh? Is this Dejima (Portuguese and Dutch trading post between 1634 and 1854.)? For real? When and who restored it? I can see a samurai-like person near the entrance!


When I returned from Gunkanjima tomorrow, my plan was to go to the Gunkan Island Digital Museum or Glover Garden. However, we can't afford to ignore such an interesting looking sightseeing spot. I'm changing the priority.




Unzen Jigoku Onsen Video



Please visit my glass jewelry shop from the link below.


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