Noboribetsu Onsen: feel the earth’s power at Hokkaido’s premier hot spring area
Noboribetsu is a coastal city in southwestern Hokkaido. About 6km from the city Noboribetsu Onsen sits in the mountains among the remains of a volcanic crater site called Noboribetsu Jigokudani where steaming hot springs continue to rise in a palpable display of volcanic power.
Noboribetsu Onsen is also called the “hot spring department store” due to its selection of nine kinds of spring including milky white sulfur springs, colorless and clear radium springs, or reddish-brown iron springs, each with different effects. Enjoy finding the one that suits you best.
Many Ainu people live around the area, and the name “Noboribetsu” comes from the Ainu word “Nupurpet” meaning “white muddy river/dark river,” indicating that the hot springs were so abundant the color of the river water changed. The Ainu people also seemed to find this hot spring useful as a medicinal bath. Afterwards, in 1905, it became a resort for disabled veterans of the Russo-Japanese War, and a hot spring town began to develop in earnest.
Today, there are many hot spring inns and hotels, some offering various types of spring under the same roof. Some inns and public sento baths are also available for day trip bathing, ideal for enjoying the abundant spring quality that is the pride of Noboribetsu.
Jigokudani Valley and Oyunuma, where the surface temperature reaches 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, is likened to hell due to the rough natural terrain, so the guardian of the spring is the demon god “Yukijin” who has become the symbol of the city.
Statues of the demon and his “golden staff” are found throughout the city. From startlingly scary demons to those with kind faces, various devils are ready to welcome visitors to the town. How many of them can you find?
The lush nature of Noboribetsu offers pleasures in each season, such as spring cherry blossoms, fresh summer foliage, autumn leaves, and winter skiing. In addition, the Noboribetsu Bear Park houses many brown bears from Hokkaido and is a great place to learn about these animals, the ecology of their natural habitat, and to see the adorable side of these of feared creatures.
Haneda Airport -> 90 min by air -> New Chitose Airport -> 60 min by expresway bus -> Shiomizaka bus stop -> 20 min by local bus -> Noboribetsu Onsen
Noboribetsu International Tourism and Convention Association
*The information herein is as of April 2021.