Beppu has several steam baths, which shouldn’t be overlooked. For 740 years, the Kannawa steam bath has been a favorite of travellers.
A steam bath is basically a sauna and is usually made from stone. The Kannawa steam baths, or “mu-shi-yu” as they are called in Japanese, are a popular destination for people who want to have a good sweat. This particular bath was originally opened in the year 1276 by the High Priest Ippen Shonin. A statue dedicated to him can be seen just outside the bathhouse.
The stone floors are covered with Japanese sweet flag grass, which gives off a relaxing herbal smell. After changing into a bathrobe, or “yu-ka-ta”, visitors enter the sauna and lie down on top of the flag grass. The steam bath has a low ceiling so bathers must be careful not to hit their head. Temperatures inside the bath reach as high as 80 degrees Celsius so the guests start to sweat within minutes.