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The Lonely Planet’s Japan edition pans it, but the onsen (hot spring) town of Beppu in Oita Prefecture provides a fun glimpse of somewhat dated Japanese sightseeing rituals — and of course, with perhaps the most diverse array of hot springs in Kyushu, it has some great places to take a dip.

Beppu has a colorful history as a resort town. To writers who described it in early Edo Period travel pieces, it seemed an apocalyptic landscape. Pools of savage, boiling mud lie just 10 minutes’ walk away from the still depths of a blood-red pool. These jigoku (hell) pools, as they are known, have been the scenes of torture by boiling, yet they have also been loved for their medicinal, beautifying and utterly relaxing powers.

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