Warm Up in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido for Your Next Winter Vacation in Japan
As one of Hokkaido’s most famous resorts, Noboribetsu is great for a quick, refreshing getaway. The minerals of the water are said to be the best in Japan, thanks to the near Jigokudani, which translates to Hell Valley. In this article we’ll discuss some of the best onsen spots to go to, and some fun things to do in the town.
Soak in the Minerals at Noboribetsu Onsen
As part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Noboribetsu Onsen is a small town south of Sapporo, the island’s capital. Just north of the town is Jigokudani, formed in a volcanic crater, you can watch the steam rise from the mountain top. This is where all the water for the hot spring and onsen come from, all 10,000 liters of it every day, making for enough hot spring water to go around all the ryokan.
An Overview of Noboribetsu Onsen
To give a historic overview, the Noboribetsu Onsen was made famous thanks to the Russian-Japanese war of 1904, designating the land as a health resort for injured soldiers for the Japanese side. In 1961, the village was officially founded with the name Noboribetsu, which in the native Ainu language means “dark-colored river”. Now, the area has many resorts and onsen and mostly thrives on the tourists coming to the area.
Tourist Attractions at Noboribetsu Onsen
With 3 million people coming every year to see the tourist attractions in Noboribetsu Onsen, the area is one of the most trafficked places on the island for tourists. Operating in the town are various ryokan and hot springs facilities for the weary traveler. The town also boasts a wildlife park full of bears that can be a grizzly place to visit, if you’re not careful!
Heat Up in a Noboribetsu Hotel
Staying in a resort town means there are many Noboribetsu hotel to choose from. With most of them having onsen on-site, you’ll likely be choosing where to stay based on other factors than the beautiful waters.
The Noboribetsu Grand Hotel
The Noboribetsu Grand Hotel is one of the more luxurious places to stay in the resort area. With a grand staircase overshadowed by an impressive chandelier in the main hall, you’ll think you’ve walked into a James Bond film set. While the front is very western, the back with the open-air hot spring is very Japanese. Dine in the Grand Hall with buffet breakfast and dinners on offer. If you want a very traditional Japanese experience, the Kosen-tei room has tea ceremonies and other authentic Japanese events.
- Spot name: Noboribetsu Grand Hotel
- Street address: 154 Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0592
- 10 minutes from Noboribetsu East IC of Hokkaido Expressway
- 100 minutes from Sapporo
- 60 minutes from New Chitose Airport
- 15 minutes from JR Noboribetsu station
Great Ryokan Noboribetsu Experiences
The Ryokan Noboribetsu holds are some of the best in the world. Thanks to the 12 pumping facilities in the area, there’s always enough water to go around. One of the best to visit is the Karurusu Onsen Yumoto Orofuresou, with it’s gorgeous open air, Japanese style bathes, you could soak the night away here.
A Great Noboribetsu Ryokan
On the other hand, another great Noboribetsu Ryokan to visit is the Dai-ichi Takimotokan. This ryokan features an inside onsen with a giant window overlooking the entire region. The view from the water is truly breathtaking. They also feature an outdoor bath crafted from the mountains.
Get Up Close at Noboribetsu Bear Park
For a close-up experience with some native animals, the Noboribetsu Bear Park lets you look upon the majestic creatures. You be able to feed the 140 free-range brown bears and Asian black bears that litter the area. On site is a museum detailing the study of the bears since the opening of the park in 1958.
The price to enter is 2,592 yen for adults and 1,296 yen for children and includes the fare for the ropeway to get to the park. The animals are bear-y cute, but beware, they are bears and some of nature's most fearsome creatures.
- Spot name: Noboribetsu Bear Park
- Street address: 224 Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551
- Access: From New Chitose Airport by JR: Approx. 47 min. by special express train, approx. 13 min. by bus from JR Noboribetsu Station.