How to enjoy the healing powers of hot sand at this popular seaside location. 

Japan is world-famous for its abundance of onsen hot springs, but those looking for a slightly more unique bathing experience should look no further than Beppu in Oita Prefecture.

Beppu, located on the southern island of Kyushu, has so much thermal activity you can see plumes of steam rising from the onsen towns, and it’s not just the water that’s heated here — the sand at certain locations is naturally heated too.

That’s why our onsen-loving Japanese reporter Go Hatori decided to make a detour during a visit to the area recently, heading straight to one of the country’s most unusual bathing spots: the Beppu Kaihin Sunayu, which translates to “Beppu Seaside Sand Bath“, or “Beppu Beach Sand Bath“.

▼ The entrance to the Sand Bath facility.

Go is always looking for bathing spots that accept tattoos, seeing as he has one on his upper arm, and he was over the moon to find that there’s no ban on visitors with tattoos here. The reason why tattoos aren’t a problem here would soon become clear to Go after he arrived at the facility and paid the 1,500 yen (US$13) entrance fee, which gave him a “sand ticket” and a yukata to change into before heading outside to the sand baths.

▼ Go could hardly contain his excitement as he rushed from reception desk to dressing room.

As it turns out, Go could’ve been covered from shoulder to shin with tattoos and nobody would’ve blinked an eye as his body was covered with the yukata. And because he had a bandaged thumb, he covered his hand with a plastic glove too, to protect it from the “bath” he was about to sink into.

Go is used to bathing in more traditional baths filled with water, so he wasn’t sure what to expect with this tub of sand. The staff on hand were friendly and helpful, providing him with guidance on what to do, which basically involved him lying down in the hollowed-out patch they’d created for him.

Go lay in the sand with his hands by his sides and, just like a dad on the beach with a couple of kids throwing sand on him, he began to be submerged under a blanket of fine granules.

The staff were gentle in moulding the sand around his body, and even propped his head up on a relaxing sand pillow, so he could gaze out at the sea in front of him.

“Oh I do love to be beside the seaside…”

The view was fantastic, and as for the sand bath, well, it was surprisingly warm. So warm that Go couldn’t help but poke a toe out to catch a breath of cool air on his foot.

The weight and heat of this unusual “bath” was incredibly relaxing, and during the first five to ten minutes of this unusual soak he could feel all the impurities being sucked out of his pores and into the sand around him.

However, as his face shows, it was much, much warmer than he’d imagined. It was hot…really hot, but that’s the nature of sand bathing, as it causes you to sweat out all your impurities.

Staff are always on hand so you can call out to them if you can’t stand the heat, but each soak lasts around 15 minutes, so Go hung in there and literally sweated it out.

▼ By the time it was over, our reporter was soaked in sweat…and sand, but he had a wide grin on his face as he felt fantastic.

You can check out Go’s sand-bathing experience in full below. At the end of the video he tells us that it was really hot, the sand was heavy, but it felt great.

After his sand-bathing experience, Go toddled off to have a wash and a soak in a traditional bath filled with water in a separate area of the facility. And when he emerged from the bathing room, he appeared totally refreshed, like a spring daisy.

Go’s skin was glowing, and he felt as if his circulatory system had been given a boost, rejuvenating him in body and spirit. Now, the only thing left to do was feed his growling belly that had worked up an appetite during his sand bath, so he stopped by Toyoken, the birthplace of Beppu’s specialty fried chicken dish Toriten, which is located nearby.

▼ This Toriten set meal was delicious, and it cost just 1,250 yen.

Go’s sand bath was like a workout for his body, which made this post-workout meal hit the spot in all sorts of fantastic ways, giving him an extra boost of energy. He highly recommends giving this sand bath and Toriten combo a try the next time you’re in the area, as it was just what he needed to keep exploring the many fantastic sites of Oita Prefecture, which is home to much more than just amazing hot springs.

Location information
Beppu Kaihin Sunayu / 別府海浜砂湯
Address: Oita-ken, Beppu-shi, Shoningahamacho
Hours: March-November 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (last entry 5:00 p.m.); December-February 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (last entry 4:00 p.m.)
Closed on the fourth Wednesday of every month (the following day in case of a public holiday)

Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]