Hokkaidō’s Noboribetsu Hot Springs: Waters to Soothe the Body and Soul
Hokkaidō’s Majestic, Natural Hot Springs
The hot springs of Noboribetsu, which provide the region with 10,000 cubic meters of mineral-rich water a day, are renowned for bubbling to the surface in nine different types of spring water, praised for their medicinal qualities. Noboribetsu is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Japan’s northernmost major island. Over 3 million domestic and foreign visitors every year come here to experience the pungent, cloudy waters, claimed to be particularly effective in treating skin conditions.
The area around the charming onsen district of town provides opportunities to really get a feel for the power of Noboribetsu’s water. Jigokudani, located in the northeast of the district, is a 450-meter-wide caldera on the western slope rising to Kuttara Lake, which fills the Kuttara caldera. At Jigokudani, the smell of sulfur rises up alongside steam from tiny fumaroles and craters speckled across the surface of the land. A 10-minute walk around the area lets visitors see 15 different craters, filled with water that reflects all the colors of the rainbow as vapor rises from them. The path is illuminated from sunset until 9:30 pm, allowing visitors to view the wonders the craters even after dusk.
Jigokudani is one of the wellspring of Noboribetsu, supplying many of the hot spring resorts in the area with water. In all there are around 30 wellsprings in the area; another one popular with tourists is Ōyunuma marsh. Around 1 kilometer in circumference, the marshy sulfur spring at Ōyunuma, fed by the volcanic crater of Mt. Tsutara, feeds a river lined with wooden benches where visitors can soak their feet as they take in the beauty of the Hokkaidō wilderness around them.
Access to Noboribetsu (from Sapporo)
By car: Approximately 80 minutes from the Sapporo-kita interchange to the Noboribetsu-higashi interchange via the Hokkaidō Expressway. From the expressway exit, take Prefectural Route 2 and Route 350 for about 6 kilometers to the hot springs district.
By train: Approximately 70 minutes via JR Chitose and Muroran Main Line limited express.
By bus: The Dōnan Express Bus for Noboribetsu runs from Sapporo Station bus terminal and takes approximately 100 minutes.
(Originally published in Japanese on April 7, 2018. Banner photo: Jigokudani in Noboribetsu. © Pixta.)