Buried in hot sand with an ocean view

Business was booming when I visited Beppu Kaihin Sunayu* at Shōningahama. “You’re going to sweat a lot, so I suggest drinking water before you start,” said the receptionist. I took her advice and drank a bottle of water while I soaked my feet in an outdoor footbath and waited for my turn. Looking out at the ocean while soaking in a foot bath feels like such a luxury it’s hard to believe it’s free.


*Sunayu is a sand bath using hot sand naturally warmed by geothermal heat.


When my number was called I changed into the special sunayu clothing provided and laid flat on the beach. A staff member scooped heaps of sand over my body, starting from my feet all the way up to around my neck. My body completely embedded in the warm sand, I closed my eyes and could feel my blood as it circulated. With the weight of the sand and the salty ocean breeze on my cheeks, I must have dozed off. The sound of the staff tamping flat the sand covering me sounded distant and faint.

“It’s been 15 minutes, ma’am,” said the staff. As I began to slowly move my body, I felt lighter, as if all of the toxins had left me. Naturally, I was drenched in sweat.



Beppu Kaihin Sunayu

addressShōningahama​, Beppu-shi
hoursMarch to November 8:30-18:00 (last admission at 17:00)
December to February 9:00-17:00 (last admission at 16:00)

*On especially crowded days, admission may close earlier.
closed on4th Wednesday of the month (or the following day if Wednesday is a national holiday)
parkingParking is available
recommended forhot sand bath 1,030 yen