Unzen onsen: feel the heat from “hell”
Located in Nagasaki Prefecture on Kyushu Island, Unzen has been widely known as an onsen site, as the name “Unzen” is said to come from the sound of “温泉,” which is now read as “onsen” but used to be read as “unzen.” Believed to be effective for improving skin condition as well as various diseases, the water of Unzen has been attracting many visitors who seek a cure for their various conditions from all over Japan.
The main spot of Unzen Onsen is “Unzen Jigoku” (“hell”). The name came from the fact that this place with hot spring water up to 120 degrees Celsius gushing out from all over the ground covered with white sand along with murky steam looks just like a scene from hell. There are places you can not only immerse yourself in nice hot water but also feel the heat of the ground and gas gushing out of the ground with the bottom of your feet, allowing you to feel the power of onsen.
Surrounded by abundant nature, the area was designated as Japan’s first national park in 1934. Mount Unzen-dake, which consists of eight mountains, is beautifully colored by seasonal features, such as flowers, fresh greenery, autumn foliage, and snow. There are trekking routes for hikers, from beginners to intermediate level, and the summit at about 1,300-meters commands a panoramic view of the sea and mountains. The best way to enjoy this area is to be active in the mountains, relax in forest bathing, and then clean and refresh yourself in the onsen.
An overwhelming landscape of “hell” with steam gushing out from more than 30 points on the grounds.
The autumn foliage season from late October to early November offers a gorgeous view of colored leaves in the mountains, which is referred to as a “sea of colored leaves.”
It is recommended to take a ropeway ride to enjoy the seasonal landscape from the sky.
Onsen-tamago, or steaming-hot eggs cooked with high-temperature steam. These are a local specialty which are said to extend your longevity if you eat them.
Unzen onsen is also known as a place where Christians were martyred for their faith when Christianity was banned in Japan from the 17th – 19th centuries. The area is also the setting of the 2016 movie “Silence” and is scattered with sites related to the movie.
Haneda Airport→100 min. by air→Nagasaki Airport→30-45 min. by bus→Isahaya Terminal→80 min. by bus→Unzen onsen
Unsen Tourist Association
From the editor
Unzen Onsen is also known as a place where Christians were martyred for their faith when Christianity was banned in Japan from the 17th to 19th centuries. The area is also the setting of the 2016 movie “Silence” and is dotted with sites related to the movie.
*The information herein is as of June 2019.