For the first time, I can honestly say, I've been to Hell and back. Today we arrived in Beppu, Japan just before 7am for the first time and backed slowly into our berth. Looking out to the city from the LIDO we could see the steam escaping from many hot springs that are on the high part of the city. The hill beyond those hot springs has what looks like a major fault line indicating prior earth movement.
Shortly after 7:30, we were released from the Main Stage area to head for our HAL chartered buses. We headed out of town to visit the Usa Shrine and then returned to visit two of the "Hell" hot springs. Those were the "Shaved Head of Monk" Hell Hot Spring with its bubbling grey mud pots and the nearby "Blood Pool" Hell Hot Spring which had a off red color. Both pools were over 75 degrees Celsius! And both pools had a warm water trough in which we could soak our feet.
In addition, there are 6 more "Hell Hot Springs" and we learned after we reboarded the ship that a couple of guests (Japanese language speakers) had figured out how to visit 7 of them very inexpensively. If we were ever to return to Beppu, that's what we would do: Focus on the Hell Hot Springs. Today was also a fairly short port stop with an onboard time of 1:30pm.
Back on board, we ate a quick LIDO lunch (there's nothing near the port and we didn't have time on the HAL tour to stop and eat) and waved our yellow souvenir handkerchiefs to the community members on shore who were doing the same as we slowly moved away from the pier and sailed out into the harbor and began our voyage to Osaka.
At 5pm, I led the Sunday Interdenominational service in the Hudson Room. I'll miss meeting with these folks.
We enjoyed our company at Gala night in the Main Dining Room with a couple from Australia and a fellow from San Diego. Unfortunately both Angela and I felt the lobster was miscooked: it had the consistency of eating egg whites.
The evening's entertainment was a variety show of Katei (rock violinist) and Monique Dehaney (Jamaican singer). It was very, very good! We even bought one of her CD's.
We think that we will head to Nara tomorrow. It's an ancient capital city of Japan and worth a visit since we've seen the other ancient capital of Kyoto. Stay tuned for what we choose to do.
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