I spent about seven hours wandering around downtown Beppu today. What I usually do is, I take the bus all the way down to Beppu Station:

This is the last stop on the Oita Kotsu APU bus line, and gets you the furthest for your 330 JPY (the rough price of one Triple Ticket). The little cagey thing is actually a tap into the boiling groundwater that usually bursts from the ground to form onsen. It’s a little less hot than boiling, but only a little, and the actual purpose of this device is as a hand bath. Usually it’s crowded with people and you can’t get a good picture (Lucky shot, anyone?). If you turn 180 degrees from this point, you will see the giant Coca-Cola sign I mentioned earlier. Walking up the street directly to the left of this sign will take you to both You Me and Tokiwa, two department stores that APU students love. The food court at You Me is better, but the grocery store at Tokiwa has a better selection of international foods (I found Skippy Peanut Butter. Skippy. Peanut. Butter. REJOICE.), and its 105 JPY store has many more school supplies and dishes than DAISO. I would recommend hitting both stores as their selection varies so widely. Here is a picture of the 105 JPY store at Tokiwa (it is in the basement):

This picture, by the way, is only half of the store. The half behind me is all of the calligraphy supplies, dishes, and gardening tools. Yes. It is amazing. And you should go there. It’s called Seria, by the way, though you literally can’t miss it if you just ride the escalator down to the basement.

Once you’ve wandered through the awesomeness that is Tokiwa (they have an entire HALF of a FLOOR dedicated to an arcade), step out into the gloomy April cloudiness and head across the street and to your right, glancing occasionally to your left until you see what looks mysteriously like a mall appear out of nowhere. It’s actually one of the famous covered alleyways of Beppu, lined with specialty shops of all sorts that sell anything from baby octopi to delicious French-style cakes to souvenirs to kittieeeees:

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little  ball   of   fuuuur… Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purrr, purrr, purrrrrrr. Ahem. Moving on.

Most of these alleys don’t have lights built in, so the shops close at sundown, but some actually do:

The shop with the shutter closed is actually a vacant space. In this picture, there’s mostly food stands–seafood so fresh that it doesn’t even smell fishy, little clams that spit at you, the aforementioned baby octopi. The ceiling of this alley is actually the underside of the train tracks; when trains pass by, it feels almost like a mini earthquake. That’s probably the reason why these shops get lights when most others don’t.

You can wander around in these alleys for hours and hours without getting lost, since Beppu’s downtown was meticulously planned in a grid shape so you just have to remember which direction you came from. Sometimes they open out into a wider, uncovered street, and you can find larger stores like Marushoku (a discount grocery that mostly caters to lazy college students–lots of pre-packed, pre-cooked foods at great prices) or even 500-year old onsen (hot springs). If you go to the onsen, just remember to bring your towel (and your courage–the older ones don’t cool their water and it gets hot, hot, hot)!