by Abigail Javellana
Venture to a land where steam and the smell of sulfur emerge from the ground, as we visit Hokkaido's most famous hot springs that will surely warm your body and soul!
Noboribetsu is a place that boasts of its onsen's mineral-rich waters. Here you can take a stroll through the rustic streets in traditional yukata, see the fantastic view of Jigokudani (Hell Valley), enjoy delicious Hokkaido seafood, and relax as you indulge in the area's many outdoor hot spring baths.
Here's a photo essay of our experience...
How to Get There:
By Train: A few minutes walk from JR Noboribetsu Station
By Car: Noboribetsu Onsen is an hour away drive from Hakodate or Chitose airport in Sapporo.
What To Do:
Stroll along Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
The most impressive site in Noboribetsu is the Jigokudani (Hell Valley), where steam comes out of the yellow, snow-covered volcanic rocks. The whole place smells like sulfur but don't worry, you really wouldn't mind the smell.
Jigokudani is a valley that was formed by a volcanic eruption ages ago. The valley has a total area of 11-hectares and was given the name Hell's Valley because of the many geysers and bubbling springs that remind you of hell.
Tip: It's an easy 15-minute walk. Watch out as some of the path are slippery from the ice.
The Tessen-ike is a steaming geyser located at the end of the Jigokudani Scenic walkway.
Relax and bathe in an Onsen
The source of its waters come from the hot volcanic pit of Jigokudani. These natural spring waters are piped to the many hotels and traditional Japanese inns around town.
The Japanese word for hot spring is "onsen". The fame of the hot springs started when they used to be a health resorts, where soldiers could heal from their injuries during the Japanese War.
Find the demon statues around town
You'll notice many demon statues while strolling around town. Don't worry, the demon is called Yukujin, a good demon that bestows luck to the people and takes away bad fortune.
Visit the Bear Park or Make a Deer Antler Vase!
Try your hand at making a traditional Japanese vase using deer antlers.
The class teaches how to clean, wax, and assemble your vase.
To finish it off, we placed a dried flower on top. Simple yet pretty.
Where To Stay:
Surrounded by nature, the Noboribetsu Grand Hotel is one of Japan's popular hot spring resorts.
It's popular with many guests for its noble-style accommodations.
Guests have the privilege of choosing a room that fits their personal preference and needs. From western type rooms and traditional Japanese rooms, to private open-air baths.
For the indoor and outdoor onsen of the hotel, there are separate baths for men and women.
I preferred enjoying the private onsen in my room. :)
Tip: Don't forget to change into your traditional yukata while you stroll around the hotel!
Hot spring contains natural ingredients that are said to be effective in cleansing and beautifying skin. It also provides visitors relief from exhaustion.
I love that they use L'occtaine and Shiseido brands as their complimentary hotel toiletries.
What to Eat:
Hokkaido is a famous culinary treasure in Japan that boast fresh quality seafood.
We ate at the hotel's restaurant offering a sophisticated Kaiseki-Ryori type of cuisine. Kaiseki means a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.
The meal was very thoughtful, with a personalized handwritten menu.
The food was amazing, featuring small dishes with each having its own unique and distinctive taste.
The seafood was incredibly fresh and fatty. The tuna and uni were especially superb.
The hairy crab was very sweet and was to my liking.
And I loved how they used local produce like the Noboribetsu beef.
Of course, a glass of Classic Sapporo Beer which is only available in Hokkaido and nowhere else in Japan! The beer is quite sweet and tastes a bit like juice but with some hoppy bitterness.
Overall, I loved their onsen baths. It was indeed a treat for the body and soul! Enjoying all those skin benefits and getting rid of the exhaustion made it feel like going to the spa. Besides trying the traditional onsens, don't forget to stroll along Hell Valley and sample some of Hokkaido's yummy seafood!
Live an Awesome Life,
Abi of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our experience was a project organized by the Hokkaido District Transport Bureau. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. You might want to visit the Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe while on your way to Noboribetsu.
The park is host to an aquarium and a mini townscape that re-enacts Northern Europe, highlighted by the Nixe castle.
The park also features shows like the penguin parade and dolphin performance.