Prevalent in the Kannawa area, Jigokumushi is a traditional method of cooking using natural hot spring steam that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Beppu is the hot spring capital of Japan, and in the Kannawa area, where the water temperatures are especially high, you can see many pillars of steam rising up into the air. Jigoku-gama (lit., “hell pots”) is the name of the ovens that harness this steam for cooking.
The food steamed in this manner is called jigokumushi (lit., “hell steam”). The mineral-rich hot spring steam draws out the ingredients’ natural flavors, which makes for simple yet delicious dishes no matter whether you are steaming vegetables, meat or fish. In recent years, steamed sweets like pudding are also popular. In the Kannawa area, there is a facility where you can try your hand at steaming your own dishes, and there are also inns equipped with jigoku-gama where you can bring your own ingredients to steam during your stay.