By Jaime Wong
One of cities in Japan that I recommend to find warmth during the cold season is Beppu, a city well-known of its hot spring. Not only is the water hot, but so is the sand. There are many places offering hot springs, therefore it is so easy to find affordable onsen in this city. However, in March 2014, I intentionally went to Beppu to enjoy different thing, buried in the sand at Beppu Beach Sand Bath.
Sand bathing was one of my briliant experiences during living in Japan. It was not normal sand, it was warm sand. Yes, the sand is warm! A famous place for sand bathing, actually, is in Ibusuki, Kagoshima. Too bad I didn't make it when I was there. Then, I was so excited when I found that Beppu gets this kind of place as well.
The staff of the hostel said that one needs about 25 minutes to get Beppu Beach Sand Bath on foot, or I could get a bus but it's not frequent. I chose to walk, though, because I just came the night before, then I had to leave that evening, so that was my perfect time to see and enjoy the city. Along the way I took many pictures and from a footbridge I could see the beauty surrounding Beppu, range of mountains as a background for number of concrete buildings, and the ocean on the another side. This city is so complete!
The fee at the time was 1000 yen/person including a yukata robe. You have to pay more if you need a towel. Your turn is based on your queue number, so you have to wait. While waiting for your turn, you can buy drink or enjoy the free foot hot spring. Also, if it is your first experience, you can watch how the sand bathing is, because it's open for public.
When your number is called, give it to the staff at the ticket box, so they will hand you the robe. After changing your clothes and put them into locker, just walk out to the sand bath area where the staff have prepared your space. Then, you have to lie down on the black and wet sand, and there is a brick to hold your neck. The staff will adjust your position before burying the whole of your body except the head. Gradually, you will feel the warmth of the sand and heavy like a crushing load. It's only for about fifteen minutes, though, and you can ask the staff to take your picture. In addition, lying down by the beach, seeing far away to the line between the sea and the sky, and listening to the sound of the sea is so relaxing and refreshing.
Even though you are wearing a robe, you may not wear any underwear, therefore, it is not for woman who are menstruating. Yet, medically, it is good for blood circulation, even better than regular hot spring.
While washing off, you can enjoy onsen as well because there is a regular hot spring bath inside the shower room, or you can take a shower right away. So, it is very complete. Warm sand and hot water.
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