Japan Life: Kannawa Onsen

Beppu-shi, Japan is famous for its onsens (natural hot-springs and bathhouses) and is a well-known tourist attraction in the Oita Prefecture. Many travelers who come to Japan visit Beppu for its well-known onsens, especially during the cooler seasons.

For foreigners (like me), bathhouses are like an absolute NO-GO because of the almost unbelievable openness that the Japanese culture has when it comes to nudity, and I grew up living an extremely conservative lifestyle. (I will not lie. I was on the verge of crying the first time I went to a Japanese bathhouse with my floor-mates. It was utterly terrifying and embarrassing since I was the oldest person in the entire group. And it’ll take me a while to recover from that little experience, haha.)

But, at the same time, it’s truly amazing what natural hot-springs have to offer people here in Japan.

Kannawa Onsen is famous in Beppu-shi for it’s food-steaming techniques. Rather than using the traditional fire-and-pan technique to cook food, the natural heat and steam from the hot-springs are used to steam food. This way of cooking food is extremely healthy (and cheap because it uses natural resources!!). You can just bring your own vegetables, meat, and seafood. Or you can purchase them from the kitchens (but they are usually a little pricier).

I joined Students of AP House on a day trip to visit this onsen and experience this type of cooking style. The streets by Kannawa Onsen look very similar to the streets in Kyoto apparently. So I look forward to the end of the semester when I can travel there.

There was a lot of people at the onsen the day that we went, so we got to see for ourselves just how popular this place is!

The heat from the steam was so intense that it felt like walking into a sauna. But it’s amazing how it’s all natural and not enhanced with fire or gas in any way.

After filming and taking shots of my friends trying out the steam cooking, it was my turn to take over the red gloves! (The next few shots of me are taken by one of the group leaders).

Opening the lid of the steaming compartment.

Taking the steamed (and ready-to-eat) foods out.

Setting the food down to be ready to serve.

Closing the lid.

And then it’s time to dig in!! All the vegetables and meat were steamed to perfection. Just add some salt, pepper, hot sauce, soy sauce (and whatever sauce you want), and it’s absolutely delicious!!

After finishing a satisfying meal, we went to a small foot-bathhouse that was right across the street. It was free and open to the public, so we went in to see and experience for ourselves the paradise of getting a foot-bath!

The water was ridiculously hot! But it felt amazing, and hot-springs really do something to the skin because in the end, you walk away with very smooth and refreshed-feeling skin!

And to end the day, we all took a large group shot together! There was lots of food and great fun!

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