Out of all the things we did this holiday, I probably regret Rakutenchi the most. It sounded all good in theory, a run down theme park set high into the mountains requiring a cat shaped cable car to get up to - tick tick. It was all those things plus pastel and cute but for bang for your buck I think we could of done something else in its place. I was also a little worried about how they kept their animals, which put quite a big dampener on the visit.
Entry was 1200 yen which included parking and a free ride on their Ferris wheel. Surprisingly it was Ben who chickened out on the Ferris wheel, so we left without doing that one :p The suspension bridge that we stupidly decided to go across first (legitimately scary high and wobbly) was probably the deal breaker for Ben. We did go on the sky cycle which was much more tame. Despite paying entry you still have to pay for all your rides (300 yen each) so we thought the cycle ride and the fish spa would do us nicely. Despite the park not getting my thumbs up, I thought it was worthwhile still blogging as the photos are cute and maybe this will serve as some food for thought for anyone else considering the visit.
The bridge!! I probably should of took a photo of the drop below but I was also crazy scared. Ben was behind me and thought I was crazy for even taking photos so at one point he over took me - maybe taking photos stopped me from being so scared? I mostly freaked out when someone was coming in the opposite direction and I had to step away from the comforts of the middle. My heart also increased a few beats when I saw little kids walking across, I'm not sure if you can tell but the railing didn't go right to the bottom and I'm sure a tiny person could crawl through *gasp* my mind goes to dark places :p
Beppu is known for being a town of natural hot springs and this particular park even had its own natural vent, although the smell is a little disconcerting - sulfur = rotten eggs :p
Of course we both had to ride the mechanical panda, especially from a memory of doing it on our 2011 trip :) They now have these toys at our local plaza - they've gone worldwide!
The double Ferris wheel that we skipped :p
I approved of their Kawaii bins
Not so sure about the duck races
Our first cherry blossom sighting! At least I think these guys are sakura :p
The sky cycle, Ben and I went on :)
Ben loved Beppu, it's a city that not overly glamorous and has its own thing going on. Ben said he loved it so much because it has a down town meets beach town vibe and wasn't as crazy and busy as some of the other cities. I found it perhaps a little too much on the ghetto side to put in my favourites list but I also love seeing all the different sides to Japan so it gets my thumbs up.
Despite being a city of a million and one onsens we unfortunately got turned away from a fancy hotel onsen, so we ended up in a 100 yen onsen. After we came out (male and female baths), we both couldn't wait to explain our onsen experience and what the hell just happened. I walked into the female side to a bunch of elderly women, with their stools all around a tiny bath in the middle - splashing water onto themselves from the bath to clean themselves. I've never been in an onsen quite like it and I told Ben that it probably would of put me off onsens if that was my first experience (no fancy shampoo or creams here!) but we both loved the experience for being something completely different :)
Beppu was also home to a lot of cats which is right up our alley :p
Can you see to the left someone had made the cats an elaborate home! On the right is the outside of Takegawara onsen, a very famous onsen in Beppu with sand baths!!! I don't know about you but I have a bunch of images in my mind of must do things before I die (I'll blame national geographic for the majority of them). One of those photos in my head is of people on a beach buried with little colourful umbrellas above their exposed heads. We actually tracked down that place and walked inside and it was so busy and I got super scared about not knowing Japanese and I walked away from my dream image - gasp!
Ben said I shouldn't leave Beppu without doing a sandbath and I knew he was right so we ended up at Takegawara onsen. We rocked up at 4:30pm and the lady at the front counter said the next availability was in two hours *sad face* but I decided to just bite the bullet and wait, so I paid the 1030 yen and watched sumo wrestling in the waiting room. Ben went off and said he would meet me back afterwards. Gosh that two hours was awful, the sun went down I got super cold and I was also a bit nervous about doing the experience on my own but mostly just cold and wishing we had mobile phones, so I could text Ben to bring me a jumper - ahh technology.
I can wholeheartedly say, looking back that I'm so glad I did the sandbath thing. It was such a bizarre experience to be buried in thermal sand yet it was absolutely lovely at the same time. Oddly enough, kind of awesome that I had been so cold the two hours leading up (like shivering cold) because being buried in warm sand was utterly delightful in comparison :) I wish I would of bought my camera in to show you guys the set up, I didn't even know that was possible but once I was inside the bath room, I saw a lot of people give their cameras to the ladies who took their photo for them - how sweet! the basic set up was quite similar to a normal onsen, expect you're given a robe when you purchase your ticket to wear once inside - there's also instructions in English so it's very simple :) Once you enter through the doors you get undressed and into your robe and then walk through to the giant sand pit. The ladies have already dug spots out for everyone and once you lie down they start racking sand over you. My lady asked me if I was okay having the sand around my neck and I nodded super happily :) We had a bit of a quick conversation and she said my Japanese was good (liar! But super sweet anyway). After around ten minutes they instruct you on how to get out and then you enter back into the first room, drop your sandy robe into a basket, shower the rest of the sand off and then you can soak in their small bath for however long you would like. I was the first to go in and out of my sand bath so I spent another ten minutes-ish in the bath before the other ladies started trickling in and I got out :)
Once out, I met up with Ben who had paid to go to the regular onsen, a popular choice for those not wanting to wait for the sand bath experience. Ben said he had no problem being naked among Japanese dude but was put off by being around so many naked dudes in such a small space, so he opted out.
I'm not sure if the sand bath has cured all my ailments but I did get to cross something off my bucket list and that makes me super happy!