Beppu is a small town famous for its numerous and abundant onsens (thermal springs). The town is built as a pressure cooker from which escapes onsen's smoke all around the city. Beppu is known primarily for his 'hells' tour (Jigoku Meguri) that I will detail in another post. As for now, I'm going to tell you about the city itself.
Downtown Beppu is not so great: shops are quite rare and, except for a few 'themed' bars, everything closes early. The city is in the countryside near Oita, east of Kyushu, and isn't served by the Shinkansen (but the train ride is compatible with the Japan Rail Pass, from Kokura or Fukuoka). The whole central part of Beppu, between the station and the coast, is very moisty and surprisingly dirty.
Therefore, it's a better idea to visit Kannawa, a typical neighborhood of beautiful small buildings littered with onsen. The visits are relaxing and the scenery very welcoming. The older population is very calm, so take the opportunity to spend a few days off in Beppu, while trying its traditionnal onsens. The city is also known for its sex museum (Beppu Hihokan) and a mountain full of monkeys (Takasaki Yama).
If you plan to visit Beppu, you may want to do it during winter. The city and its onsen are especially suited to milder seasons of the year.
How to get to Beppu
By JR train from Fukuoka, 17 minutes of Shinkansen to Kokura and change for 1h30 of local JR train
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 271)
How long / when to visit
Count one night on site to see the essential
Ideal season: winter