Welcome to Beppu, Oita Prefecture. Home to almost 300 hot springs, the city looks as if it’s on fire if looked at from a distance; rest assured this is not the case. The city is simply filled with geothermal activity, including hot springs called jigoku — named after the Japanese word for ‘hell’ – beautiful to look at, but not to touch. Beppu has become a very popular destination for tourists as it is filled to the brim with spas, hotels and… art.
In part thanks to the efforts of the Beppu Project, founded in 2005, the city is now overflowing with artistic events, residencies and exhibitions. The chaotic city, full of history, acts as particularly good inspiration for creative pursuits. Beppu Project works to intertwine art with local landscapes and residents.
The Beppu Project has unlocked local potential through art and helped put the region on the map. The organisation has also brought a lot of artists to the area, some of whom remain in Beppu after all these years.
The art walk aims to give greater visibility to the artists and creators of Japan, allowing visitors to see the city from a different angle
Masamitsu Katsu is one of the artists that came to the city through the Beppu Project, and now lives and creates in an artist-in-residency apartment called Kiyoshima. Masamitsu Katsu creates pencil drawings of people and memories from Beppu, working closely with the local community to produce this artwork.
Katsu is also a tour guide for the Beppu Art Walk. He is well-connected with the local community and versed in Beppu’s history, well-apt to showcase the city’s hidden treasures from an artist’s perspective. The art walk gives greater visibility to the artists and creators of Japan while allowing visitors to see the city from a different angle. The Beppu Art Walk has become one of the most popular walking tours in Japan.