Some R&R was on the schedule for today, no sense staying at an Onsen resort if you’re not going to slow down and enjoy a soak, or two, in the rich mineral waters on offer. Onsen is a very enjoyable and relaxing experience, we were looking forward to a little downtime in between our big city exploring.
Episode 7: https://youtu.be/2FQ0RrNXJUA
Another perk to staying at this sort of establishment are the included meals, breakfast and dinner. You got a glimpse at dinner in the previous episode, and in this episode we start the day with a beautifully prepared Japanese breakfast. A Japanese breakfast is always protein heavy which doesn’t leave us feeling lethargic afterwards, quite the opposite, we’re ready to start the day. Perfect on this day as we had some hiking planned for the afternoon.
Noboribetsu is in Shikotsu-Toya National Park and as such there are some interesting natural sights to visit. The main one we had read about before our trip was Jigokudani, also known as Hell Valley. It is an unearthly landscape, called an explosion crater, created during the eruption of a near by volcano. It was an extremely interesting sight to see, full of hot spring streams, geysers and steaming vents. It did really feel like taking a stroll in what one could image as hell. Hell Valley is the source of many of the varied spring waters piped down into the Noboribetsu Onsen resort town.
Hell Valley is connected to other sights in the park by hiking trails. There is a rather vast hiking trail network, unfortunately we did not have time to explore them all. But we did hike a few of them to another sight, Oyunuma Pond. It was a short hike, but a little strenuous as a good portion of it was uphill. If you do visit and make the hike you will be rewarded with an amazing view over Jigokudani before continuing on to Oyunuma Pond. The pond was black in colour and seemed to be constantly gurgling and bubbling as there was a geyser feeding it sulphur below it’s surface. The trail from Hell Valley will take you straight down to the pond, but be sure to keep an eye out for a viewing area before making the descent down. It will give you a great view over the pond and of the steaming volcano behind it.
On our way back to the resort hotel we stopped at Sengen Park. It is a small park in the centre of town surrounded by giant demon clubs in various colours and hosting it’s own steaming geyser. Right around the corner from the park was The Shrine of King Enma. That was a bit of a shock as it was mainly a giant statue of a demon of sorts staring down from his throne. We continued on past the shrine along the main shopping street of town, checking out various shops.
Back at the hotel we hurried to the onsen. It seemed rather fitting to be soothing away the hike in some of the hot spring water we saw originating from Hell Valley. I made it into the large public bath which had 3 different types of water, each with it’s own mineral content and health benefits. Needless to say, I tried them all!
Sufficiently soothed, we made our way up to the room for a little hot tea and sweets. A little more relaxation before getting ready to go down for dinner.
Dinner was another amazing kaiseki meal, a little fancier than the previous night. We have noticed this trend that if you stay in a ryokan for multiple nights the dinners seem to escalated with each passing meal.
Full and content we retired to our futon in our tatami room for our last night of slumber in Noboribetsu Onsen.
Everything we visited can easily be done in a half day. We headed out, after enjoying that Japanese breakfast, at around 9:30-10am and were back at the resort by about 3pm. This worked out perfectly as it gave us enough time to visit the onsen, soak away the hike, and be ready for another great kaiseki meal.
This was our one full day in Noboribetsu Onsen, and I think that was a perfect amount of time for us to get a feel for this quaint little town. Between our full day, and two half days on our arrival and departure we were able to enjoy some hiking, visit Hell Valley, say hi to several of the demons around town and explore the main shopping street. We were certainly happy we made the stop and enjoyed our time immensely.
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Noboribetsu Onsen Kyo Takinoya – A beautiful onsen resort hotel where we would get some R&R for the next 2 nights. We introduced you to a beautiful Japanese breakfast and gave you a better view of the entrance to the hotel.
- Hell Valley (Jigokudani) – An unearthly landscape created by an explosion crater during a volcanic eruption. Much of the various hot spring waters available at the various onsen resort hotels are pumped out from here.
- Oyunuma Pond – A black sulphur pond a short(ish) hike from Hell Valley.
- Sengen Park – Visit the geyser right in the middle of town at Sengen Park. It’s also the sight of several demon clubs in various colours.
- The Shrine of King Enma – Hard to miss when you walk past, right around the corner from Sengen Park.
Thanks for watching/reading!