Noboribetsu Onsen Hokkaido Onsen
Destinations Hokkaido Onsen

Noboribetsu Onsen Japan – Probably The Best Hot Spring Town In Hokkaido

on
October 24, 2019

Noboribetsu Onsen is one of the three most famous hot spring places in the entire northern island of Hokkaido, quite possibly being the most famous one, and for good reason. It’s situated in the north-east part of Muroran City at the foot of the volcanic Mount Hiyori, and filters through more than 10,000 liters of hot spring water on a daily basis through its various onsens.

Because of where it’s located, the atmosphere around the town is extraordinarily fantasy-like, with mist and smoke constantly billowing in the air and boiling waters gushing and bubbling in the distance if you’re trekking through the valley. 

Noboribetsu Onsen Hokkaido Japan

The onsen town itself is a famous tourist attraction due to its relatively large number of onsens available and with as many as 11 different kinds of thermal waters (that are considered by many as amongst Japan’s most effective, FYI!). But aside from that, it’s also got a plethora of various fun, exciting, and relaxing activities to do around the area so for those in the market for a varied onsen town experience, then Noribetsu Onsen might be a good choice for you. 

How to Get to Noboribetsu Onsen

Donan Bus Noboribetsu-Onsen Terminal

Donan Bus Noboribetsu-Onsen Terminal

As it is a fairly populated tourist area, there are many ways to get to Noboribetsu.

From Sapporo, you can catch the limited express Hokuto train to Noboribetsu Station (75-minutes, 4,480 yen), or the Donan bus to Noboribetsu Station (90-minutes, 1,750 yen). From there, you can take a local bus to Noboribetsu Onsen (10-minutes, 200 yen). There’s also a direct bus from Sapporo with Donan bus (100-minutes, 1,950 yen). 

To get to Sapporo, you can catch a flight from Tokyo from 5,000 yen one-way (with budget airline Jetstar). 

By the way, if you are planning to take the train often in Hokkaido, you can save few yens with the JR Hokkaido Rail Pass.

Where to Stay in Noboribetsu Onsen

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan 1

This gorgeous 4-star beauty located right where all the action is offers a surprisingly peaceful respite from the loud noises and crowds. It’s a massive, eye-capturing building that boasts a variety of on-site hot spring baths, hot tubs and an indoor swimming pool.  It’s considered a historic Japanese-style inn, however, certain upgrades keep this place from looking too rustic.

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan 1

You can keep yourself and your party entertained through on-site entertainment such a karaoke rooms and gaming centres. Escape all the excitement and retire back to your comfortable rooms, fitted with tatami flooring and traditional futon bedding, furnished with flat-screen TVs and with yukata robes just waiting for you to relax in. There is also massage salon on-site if you need some extra kneading of the muscles.

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan 1

Why Guests Love It: Its location (at one end of Hell’s Valley) makes it perfectly convenient for a number of reasons. The service was absolutely phenomenal, the type of specialized attention you would expect from a smaller establishment. The buffet breakfast was an absolute treat, but the kaiseki dinner is the winner here. 

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan 1

Book It Now: Dai-Ichi Takimotokan

Ryokan Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu

Ryokan Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu 1

Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu ryokan offers a no-frills, simple Japanese accommodation experience at a quality that you would expect no less of. Everything about this place is quintessentially Japanese, from the lowered furniture on the floor, to the woven tatami flooring, to the rustic detailing of the hot springs and the milk texture of the waters, to the delicious kaiseki dinner served by the most wonderful hosts. As a bonus, there’s a mochi-making experience in the morning that guests can participate in – what a unique want to begin your morning!

Why Guests Love It: The Japanese style dinner and breakfast were of the highest quality possible. The location is also A-grade, as it was close to many restaurants and convenience stores. Most guests commented on just how authentic this ryokan experience felt, from the greeting at the reception all the way to the meals.

Book It Now: Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu 

Now that you know where to stay, let’s check together the best things to do in Noboribetsu Onsen!

Noboribetsu Jigukudani (Hell Valley)

Noboribetsu Jigukudani (Hell Valley)

Aptly named as the “Hell Valley” of the north, this entire environment is a monumental display of craters caused up sudden and massive eruptions from the Kuttara volcanoes, hot steam vents, sulfuric water streams, and a heap of other exciting volcanic activity all throughout the year. It is, after all, Noboribetsu’s main source of water for its hot springs.

You can spend some time walking around exploring the area, as it is quite picturesque with the white and orange volcanic surroundings contrasted by the lush greenery of the mountains in the distance. Add in the rustic ambience of the wooden boardwalks that extend all around the area, and you’ve got yourself some epic photoshoot opportunities.

Noboribetsu Jigukudani Hell Valley

If you’re looking for something a little more, at the end of the walkway, there is a section containing a geyser called the ‘Tessen Ike’. Here, you’ll be able to witness first hand the hot water bubbling itself into a frenzy, almost as though Mother Nature were boiling her own pot of kettle right then and there. It’s a unique natural phenomenon that you can’t quite witness just anywhere, so if you’re in the area, we reckon you should definitely make your way to the very end. 

From the valley itself, you can split into various easy and fun walking trails that take you around the wooded hills of the mountains. These walking trails are suitable for the fit, the “I only exercise once a year” type, and everyone in between. May we add that they’re super scenic as well, especially during autumn when the foliage is making its round through the valleys!

  • Address: Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan
  • Access: From Noboribetsu Station, take the Donan Bus to Noboribetsu Onsen. IT will cost 350 yen for one-way, and will take 15-minutes. From Noboribetsu Onsen, it is only a 10-minute walk. 
  • Hours: 24/7 (however, the observation area is only lit until 11:00pm)
  • Price: Free 

Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village 

Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village 

Noboribetsu Date Historic Village is technically a theme park, but not as you know it. Whilst the term ‘theme park’ conjures up images of roller coasters, costumes of your favourite cartoon characters, lots of laughing and screaming, and unlimited amounts of popcorn and ice cream, this particular theme park focuses on its collection of Edo period style buildings instead – a different kind of fun.

For those of you who are still not sure, the Edo period was essentially a time in Japanese history when the Shogunate ruled, kimonos filled the streets, and elements of the ‘outside world’ (i.e. Western influences) were never to be seen. The theme park showcases the olden-day styled buildings in the most beautiful way, and allow for some pretty nice photo opportunities, especially in winter when there is snowfall (and there is almost always snowfall in the north in winter) clinging to the roofs of the huts. 

Noboribetsu Date Jidai Village 

There are multiple buildings to wander around and basically get lost in. This is a great activity if you have kids who have wandering minds, as there’s quite a lot to see and take in. For example, there’s a ninja maze which harbors a bunch of optical illusions for you to have fun with, there’s a ninja performance you can catch, and when you get hungry, there’s even a small street of shops that sell gifts, souvenirs, snacks, and of course, some restaurants for those who want to rest their feet.

Noboribetsu Onsen – Go for a Bath at Dai-Ichi Takimotokan 

Ryokan Dai-Ichi Takimotokan

If you are not staying at Dai-Ichi Takimotokan, we still suggest to try out their facilities. As said earlier, this onsen establishment is located right in the middle of the town, and offers a multitude of gender-separated hot springs to choose from. Its number of hot springs might be its defining factor but it also boasts as many as seven different hot spring waters! The onsen waters vary in acidity, mineral contents, and health benefits.  With such amazing facilities, this onsen is attracting tourist far and wide to its quarters to try and reap as much of the water’s benefits as possible. It is free to use for staying guests; however, it does charge an average fee for day-time visitors as well.

Noboribetsu Onsen – Visit Lake Kuttara

Lake Kuttara

I mean, who can resist a visit to Lake Kuttara, the supposed “Roundest Lake in Japan”? With a title like that, you have to be somewhat interested, right? Lake Kuttara is located in Shiraoi Town, close by to Noboribetsu Onsen. It makes for a nice side trip, as it takes you outside of town for a bit, into the openness of the lake that not only is a perfectly circular shape, but also boasts some of the cleanest, clearest water in all of Japan. You heard that right! Apparently in 2001, it was reported to have come 1st in water quality in both its lake and pond section, and is now rated 2nd only after Lake Mashu (also located in Hokkaido). It’s so clear that at times, you’ll be able to see 19m below the surface!

Noboribetsu Onsen – Visit Lake Kuttara 1

Can this lake win anymore awards?

The surrounding of this lake is still primarily nature, as there has been pushback in developments surrounding it to preserve its natural beauty. We think that’s a massive plus!

During certain seasons, it’s also a famous stop for fishing for sockeye salmon, but for fishing enthusiasts, know that it’s also famous for freshwater crayfish and salamanders. 

Beware that there are no public transport options here, so you will need to hire a car and drive from Noboribetsu Onsen, or take a taxi, which may cost around 3,000 yen.

Address: Kojohama, Shiraoi, Shiraoi District, Hokkaido 059-0641, Japan

Noboribetsu Onsen – Oyunuma and Okunoyu, The Gurgling Hot Spring Lakes 

Oyunuma Lake

Lake Oyunuma

Nearby to the Noboribetsu Jigokudani is Lake Oyunuma, where you can witness more gurgling hot springs. You can access it easily via following the signs from the boardwalks as you’re exploring the Noboribetsu Jigokudani area. 

Here, you won’t be able to bath in the hot spring. The waters can reach a level of 130 degrees, and the surface temperature itself is a whooping 40-50 degrees. It’s far too dangerous to even come close to, so instead, a safety gate has been erected around at a distance that is safe for you to observe from. 

Okunoyu

Similar to Oyunuma is Okunoyu, which is a lake located across the parking lot where cars park to access Jigokudani. It’s got the same gray-black bubbling sulfuric spring waters like Oyunuma, but its surface level temperature gets even hotter – around 75-80 degrees!

Oyunuma River Natural Footbath

Noboribetsu Onsen – Oyunuma River Natural Footbath

Pay your feet some attention and allow it some rest during your crazy Japan exploration schedule (we know it’s hectic, it’s Japan!).

After reading about the boiling temperatures of Lake Oyunuma and Okunoyu, you’re probably thinking we’re a bit crazy for suggesting you dip your dainty feet into Oyunuma River, but rest assured, this is a warm river which flows up from Oyunuma and Okunoyu, allowing the temperature of the water to fall to the perfect temperature for you to place your feet into. 

This hot spring for feet is completely natural (i.e. not one bit is man-made), and is the perfect way to get a taste of the waters of the surrounding ‘hell’! It’s incredibly peaceful here, as this hot spring is surrounded by forest and greenery. It’s one of the most therapeutic experiences you can experience. 

Please remember to bring your own towel as this place is not manned.

Noboribetsu is a great way to break up your northern Japan trip. Whether you’re exploring it in winter and need some onsens warm your soul up, running around in autumn and need a bit of a breather from all the Japan festivals you’re attending across the country, or visiting in spring and want to escape the hordes of people pouring into the country to view the cherry blossoms, Noboribetsu is a gorgeous option for families, couples, and traveling friends alike. Whether it be a day-trip, overnight trip, or over a few days, you’ll find yourself eager to find more activities in this exciting onsen town to do.

And if you are looking for more beautiful places to visit in Hokkaido, check out these blog posts: Niseko and Asahikawa.

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