Noboribestu onsen is the most famous onsen in Hokkaido. It’s the place where you can warm your body and soul in every season, as the beauty of the place changes with the seasonality itself.
The Jigokudani, the hell’s valley, is an impressive place from where steam and smoke erupt from the ground, while being surrounded by the sulfur smell. It has been formed from a crater explosion of Mount Kuttara thousands of years ago. Today, a valley with a diameter of 450m and 11ha in suface, hosts geysers, bubbling springs and blowholes – a real show for all your senses.
And that’s not all, as the water is actually connected to the ryokans and hotels around, so you can enjoy the amazing properties straight from the source.
Noboribetsu Onsen Town
Rather a long street than a town itself, Noboribetsu onsen is easily walkable. From the bus terminal till the Jigokudani area, where is the main touristic attraction, it only takes ~10 minutes. Along the way, various shops, onsens, demon statues and shrines line along the road.
As Jigokudani literally means the demon’s valley, various demon statues can be found across the city. Look for the ones bringing luck in love, success in exams or prosperity in business.
Check out the little Enma Shrine as you head towards the Hell Valley. There are 6 performances per day where the animatronic puppet (The guardian deity of Jogokudnai, Enma) comes to live, with a 5 minutes performance. A timetable is displayed in front of the shrine: 10am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 8pm and 9pm.
The main attraction of Noboribetsu onsen, the hell valley, should to be seen by day and night. While during the day you can better see the water, steam and mud, during the night the path is covered in lights, creating a magical atmosphere. If you’re lucky enough, you can even spot some of the local fauna (especially deers).
During the winter, many roads are closed because of the snow. But during the summer, you can further explore the area by extending your visit with a walk to Oyunuma lake (incl. a natural footbath) and Oku no Yu.
Daiichi Takimotokan Onsen
And last but not least, you cannot visit an onsen town without a proper bath. There are 7 onsens to chose from, for any pocket and needs:
- Daiichi Takimotokan
- Grand Hotel
You can check the timetable and the prices, but I would definitely recommend Daiichi Takimotokan. It is the biggest public bath in entire Hokkaido and it has many pools with various properties (5/9 spring types).
The type of baths you can find in the area are:
- Sulfur spring: helps to ease chronic bronchitis, hardening of the arteries and chronic dermatitis,
- Aluminium spring: helps to ease symptoms of chronic skin disease, inflammation of the mucous membranes, athlete’s foot and hives,
- Salt spring: helps to ease neuralgia, lower back pain and poor circulation,
- Iron spring: helps to ease symptoms of anemia and chronic eczema,
- Acidic spring: helps to ease eczema sympthoms,
- Mirabilite spring: helps to ease the effects of hypertension, wounds and arteriosclerosis,
- Melanterite spring: helps to ease the effects of anemia and chronic eczema,
- Alkaline spring: helps soften cornified layers of the skin and emulsify secretions, eases skin conditions and sanitizes wonds,
- Radium spring: helps to ease neuralgia, rheumatism and menopausal disorders.
Food & Drinks
Ensure you’re not going to the onsen on empty stomach. I recommend the traditional Noboribestu yakisoba and Dosanko pudding. You can find them both in front of Enma shrine cafe & restaurant.
From JR Noboribetsu train station, the onsen town can be reached in a 15-20 minutes bus ride. It operates between ~7am to ~8.30pm from the station to the onsen town and from ~6.30am till ~9pm for the way back. The frequency is more or less every half an hour and a round trip costs 640¥ (and 350¥ for a single trip).
Well, that’s it from my side. I hope you enjoyed the article and one day you’ll visit Noboribetsu onsen by yourself. Meanwhile, get inspired from more articles across Japan and not only, here.
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