There is always an onsen site in Japan’s most representative legends: they spread literally all over the country, but which one is the best to enjoy while being surrounded by nature?
This time we take you to Hokkaidō’s Noboribetsu Onsen!
What’s special about Noboribetsu Onsen?
Noboribetsu Onsen is a very popular thermal town located in Hokkaidō’s Shikotsu Tōya National Park.
Its name seems to have originated from the Ainu term for “deep blue river”. The main feature of this thermal site is to be part of a flowing river.
There are 11 types of hot springs here! Among these, the sulfur spring of Jigoku-dani (lit., “Hell Valley”), makes the site particularly appreciated.
Formed by the eruption of Mount Hiyori, Jigoku-dani is the symbol spot of Noboribetsu Onsen.
The area is scattered with fumaroles and craters ,where gas and hot water spring up all around.
The area is provided with a path for tourists, where one can fully enjoy Jigoku-dani’s unusual landscape.
One path connects Jigoku-dani to Ōyunuma.
This is prehistoric-like pond characterized by its grey mud-like water, very similar to the water that was present on the Earth hundred-thousands of years ago.
Close to Noboribetsu Onsen town we can find the Ōyunuma River Natural Footbath, easily accessible by taking a few steps in the woods:
sitting here by the small waterfall while soaking one’s feet in this stream is extremely relaxing.
The water temperature here is constantly high, about 42-43 degrees: it is suggested to have a 10 to 20 minutes bath in order to feel the effect of this natural wellness attraction.
Visiting the spot during the Fall or in Winter is particularly recommended (although the pictures you can see here were taken in midsummer).
How to get to Noboribetsu Onsen
Click here to see how to access the site!
We visited Noboribetsu Onsen during a trip around the Hokkaidō island.
On that morning we had been walking for hours. My feet were worn out so we went towards the footbath first.
There’s no facilities nor other man-made structures around Ōyunuma, so we could experience uncontaminated nature.
The water’s surface covered with steam looked very hot and muggy, like if a dragon was about to come out!
There are some steep zones on the way to the footbath.
By walking a bit further we saw the hot water river flowing in a birch forest, these trees are particularly white in august.
Due to the steam, the path is quite slippery, so we recommend to wear non-slip shoes.
There were only 10 people soaking their feet in the water and the temperature was just perfect!
After a few moments of relax, we dried our wet feet in the towel and went toward Jigoku-dani.
Here, the heavy smell of sulfur can be strongly unpleasant to some people.
Danger signs can be found all along the path, it can be quite thrilling. Small Shintō shrines are also on the way.
Walking in a row gave us the feeling of being part of some sort of pilgrimage.
After the exploration of these tourist spots we went visiting the little town of Noboribetsu Onsen, where we had a delicious ramen!
By being located very close to Sapporo, we think Noboribetsu Onsen is the most famous Onsen of Hokkaidō: you need to check it out!