Beppu has many kinds of onsen that are unique with their own characteristics, and sand bath is one of them. Located along the coast of Beppu Bay, Beppu Kaihin Sunayu is an onsen where you don’t bathe in hot water but in hot sand. It is one of the few natural sandy beaches left in Beppu. The sand is heated by geothermal hot spring rich in sodium hydrogen carbonate, which can boost your well being. It can also ease several health issues such as muscle pain, fatigue, and blood circulation.
You’ll need some luck to get in
I tried going there three times, and it’s always full! As it turns out, they only receive 12 people at once, and you have to wait a bit or even longer to take your turn depending on how many visitors there are that day. This made me even more curious to find out what the onsen has to offer. I had been to a sand bath before where you have to dig yourself, but this onsen lets you have the real experience. Finally, after the fourth time going there, I got my luck to have my first real sand bath experience.
After paying ¥1,030 at the reception, I received my yukata as well as a small ticket with a number on it. I waited around 15 minutes until my number got called. Next, I went into the locker room and changed into the yukata. Then I went outside and saw the sandpit with a beautiful view of the sea.
The burying process
The staff gave warm greetings then guided me to put my head on the wooden pillow provided and told me to lie down flat on the steaming hot sand. They adjusted my arms a bit closer to my body, then started to bury me in sand using a big shovel. They carefully took the wooden pillow out and buried my neck entirely with their hands. After a while, I found myself all covered in the sand. Don’t forget to bring your smartphone or camera inside as the staff will take your pictures when enjoying the bath.
The ultimate relaxation awaits
I gazed upon the ocean as I felt the warmth around me and heard the sound of the waves crashing by. There’s hot vapor coming out from the sand that smells mildly volcanic. I found myself less and less able to move; the way the heavy sand pushed my body to the ground is just ironically relaxing. Suddenly all of the pain and exhaustion in my body went away. After a while, I dozed off. It was raining that day. With a freezing temperature outside, having a heavy, warm, and comfortable blanket of sand on you was just the best thing I could ever ask for.
Time flies in the blink of an eye. After 15 minutes, the staff gave me an instruction on how to remove myself from the sand. Once I was free to stand up, I headed to the shower and washed the sand off my body. Inside the bathroom, you can soak yourself in the hot onsen tub. It was indeed a relaxing time. I was never someone who could stay still for one second, and the sand bath let me do that finally.
Beppu Kaihin Sunayu information
9 Shōningahamacho, Beppu-shi, Oita Prefecture 874-0023
- March – November: 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. (last entrance 5 p.m.)
- December – February: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (last entrance 4 p.m.)
- Closed: The fourth Wednesday of each month (the following day if that Wednesday is a holiday)
- By bus: From Beppu Station, take the bus #20, 26 or 50 and get off at Rokushoen Beppu Kaihin Sunayu Mae.
- By train: A five-minute walk from JR Beppu Daigaku Station.