Spring is finally coming to Beppu! There are a lot of excitement already going around in this small town. As one of the main city located in Oita that famous as Japan onsen prefecture, Beppu is arguably the most integral part of Oita prefecture to brand the image as the best destination for hot spring tourism in Japan because its significant number of hot spring resources, it is best to call Beppu as the city of Onsen.
It is true that Beppu is not the only city which mainly promoting its hot spring as their main tourism industry, you could easily find other places around Japan which also famous with its Hot spring tourism such as Shizuoka prefecture and the one in Kanagawa prefecture which is famous with their historical background as the hot spring of noble where Japanese shoguns enjoyed the warm hot spring in the past. However, I could guarantee you all of those places would never beat the warmness of Onsen culture in Beppu city.
Photo : seiko tomono on FlickrHot spring culture has always been existed in the daily life of Japanese society but society in Beppu city simply bring hot spring culture to the another level. Every year at the beginning of April, the local government and the local community in Beppu organize one of the biggest onsen festival in Oita prefecture called Beppu Hatto Onsen Matsuri. The purpose of this festival is to celebrate the richness of hot spring resources and also to show the gratitude of the people in Beppu to God of onsen for the blessing. You could feel the warmness of onsen culture in Beppu city towards this festival for 5 consecutive days! Each day offers different type of event that related to onsen culture in Beppu city. It truly offers a quite decent experience of how enjoyable onsen culture could be and soon after you finished the 5 consecutive days of this onsen matsuri, you will never see the hot spring culture in Beppu the same again as you used to be.
Photo : http://www.beppu-navi.jp/
Day 1: Mount Ogi Fire Festival
Photo : http://www.beppu-navi.jp/Oh my god, that mountain is on fire! Someone please call the fire fighters before it’s too late! Okay everyone can calm down now, there is no need to call fire fighters because that burning mountain is also part of Beppu hatto onsen matsuri. This event called Mount Ogi fire festival, marks the opening of this five days festival in Beppu which also one of the main event of Beppu onsen matsuri. The dark sky above Beppu city suddenly turns red because of the reflected flames silhouette from the front part of Mount Ogi which drawn a beautiful eye catching red patterns from the distance.
Day 2: Onsen Tour
Photo : Fredrik Rubensson on FlickrThere are significant numbers of onsen around Beppu city and many of these onsen have a very unique and interesting historical background behind it. During the second day of Beppu Hatto onsen matsuri, Beppu city offers one day onsen tour to the visitors with the purpose that you could learn more about the onsen culture in Beppu by visiting several different type of onsen around Beppu city with a very reasonable price.
There will be special bus and taxi available for those who interested to join the tour with a special price as well because the ticket price of transportation that access the route for this onsen tour will be reduced significantly and you can purchase the ticket for only 500 yen! furthermore, most of the places which being included in this one day onsen tour will not charge you the entrance fee, not to mention that Jigoku meguri onsen tour which also being included to the list of onsen destination route of this one day onsen tour will also be available for free to the visitors who Join the event, it will cost you for about 7000 yen during the regular day! It started sounds like a great deal, isn’t it? I think this special one day onsen tour is the cheapest onsen tour that available in Beppu city and probably in Japan.
Day 3 and Day 4: Free Onsen around Beppu!
Photo : Everjean on FlickrAfter the special onsen tour during the second day you probably started to crave for more hot spring experience in Beppu city, then why don’t you try to bath at the onsen around Beppu city for free! Not only it is free but also this event will be last for two consecutive days which mean you can try as many onsen spot as you can around the town, please make sure that you don’t boil your own body for two consecutive days at every free onsen that available during the festival. However, not every onsen in Beppu will be available for free to the visitors because only several numbers of onsen which already being listed on the official website of Beppu Onsen Matsuri will be free of charge, make sure to check the official website for the free of charge onsen list.
Day 5: Onsen Parade
Finally it is the last day of Beppu Hatto onsen matsuri, it is kind of sad to know all of this excitement that lighten up this small city will be over on this day but as they said you should keep the best thing for the last and here it comes the finest part of Beppu Hatto onsen matsuri, the grand finale Onsen parade. It is hard to describe what kind of experience you could get during this onsen parade, the name of this final even might be called as onsen parade but the entire community that exist in this small city will gather to represent their community during this onsen parade, it literally means every community in Beppu city from the smallest community to the biggest one that exist in the city even though it seems not related to onsen culture at all.
It could be because the real purpose of the parade is not to introduce onsen culture to the visitor anymore, instead it is more like a big stage where every community in this small city could gather to express themselves and celebrate the final day of this event together.
Traditional Japanese music performance on the main stage attract all the audiences to dance together along with the song.
The local politician and local government leaders also join the crowd during the parade.
Make sure you don’t miss the omikoshi parade because Japanese traditional parade will never be the same without omikoshi!
Even kindergarten students in Beppu also have their own version of omikoshi during the parade.
Beppyon is waving his tiny hands to the crowd, this cute bunny is the official mascot for Oita Prefecture. Can you see the patterns on his head? If you paid attention carefully to his head, it actually represents the onsen sign.
There are several Marching band groups during the parade but in my opinion this group named 41 regiment is the best among all.
When is the event?
The event will be started from April 1st until April 5th, 2015. You can enjoy the Onsen Parade around the area near to Beppu station but the route for this parade will change every year depends on the traffic. Make sure to check the official website of Beppu Onsen matsuri for more detailed information:
Beppu Onsen Matsuri Home Page: http://www.beppu-navi.jp/onsenmatsuri/index.html