Beppu Goes Full Steam Ahead with Plans for Hot Spring Theme Park
Beppu, in Oita Prefecture, Japan has pledged to create a hot spring theme park attraction in 2017, plans of which are already underway.
Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Japan has pledged to create a hot spring theme park attraction in 2017, plans of which are already underway.
In November 2016, the mayor of Beppu released a video of a hot spring theme park, pledging to make this recreational attraction a reality if the video received more than 1 million views. After beating this target number in three days, plans are now coming into fruition for this much-anticipated park.
The mayor of Beppu announced on 24th January 2017 that the first step in the Yuenchi hot spring theme park plan will be a water-splashing festival, set to take place on 2nd April. This will be followed by the opening of a new attraction in July, involving rides at the existing Beppu Rakutenchi theme park.
According to the town, the April ‘hot water splashing’ festival will be held alongside the Beppu Hatto Onsen Festival (31st March to 3rd April), during which equipment such as fire hoses are used to douse float bearers with warm hot spring water as they parade outside JR Beppu station. This year the festival will spray 10 times as much onsen (hot spring) water as usual, a total of around 30 tonnes, which will be pumped from unused onsens in the town.The ‘hot spring theme park’ attraction opening in July will coincide with the annual Beppu Sea of Fire Festival, and will encourage attendees to enjoy new hot spring attractions at Beppu Rakutenchi theme park for a limited time only. The organizers have started to announce details of attractions which will include intriguing-sounding rides such as:
● An onsen merry-go-round
● An onsen water slide
● A "special-blend" onsen bath
● A train equipped with onsen water cannons
● Background music from Japanese DJ Towa Tei
And, possibly the most offbeat entry of all:
● Duck race performances facilitated by artificial intelligence technology
Beppu will not use any public tax money to fund the projects, relying instead on a combination of private funds including online crowdfunding, donations, and so-called “hometown tax” (a scheme in which taxpayers can choose to divert part of their taxes to a specified local government, usually their hometown, in order to benefit their local community). Crowdfunding for the project has just finished its two-month run, easily surpassing its goal of 10 million yen by raising 33,966,585 yen (approximately £248,000) from over 3,600 backers.
According to the project’s website, out of consideration for the environment and in order to avoid wasting water and depleting local onsen supplies, the events plan to make use of unused onsen water from after-hours onsen facilities throughout the town.
The project has been given the catchy name “Paradise Hell Beppu”, presumably in reference to Beppu’s top tourist attraction, its eight ‘hells’, or seven multi-coloured pools and one geyser that are too hot to bathe in. More details on these hot spring ‘hells’ can be found here.