Disabled pair earn certificates as Beppu ‘hot spring masters’

OITA (Kyodo) Hidekazu Yasutomi, 34, and Nana Kunitake, 28, have become the first disabled people to earn the title “hot spring master” in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.

The local tourist association awards the certificate to people who bathe in 88 “onsen” in the city. Both live in Beppu, and on Sunday each separately took a dip in their 88th hot spring with the help of assistants.

“I’d like people to know even disabled people can go to a hot spring,” Yasutomi said.

He suffered debilitating injuries in a motorcycle accident when he was a high school student.

“I’m happy someone with a physical disability has become an onsen master. We’d like to continue this activity so that anyone can enjoy taking baths at Beppu,” said Yuichi Tsuchiya, 44, a volunteer who helped Yasutomi on his onsen odyssey.

Beppu is Japan’s leading city for hot springs both in number and the amount of hot water coming from the ground.