Noboribetsu was the first stop in Hokkaido prefecture and is famous for its sulphorous water springs, which in addition to its medicinal properties create fascinating landscapes of bare green slopes from where water vapor rises in dense clouds and lakes of murky whitish waters.
The small village is not very appealing, being no more than two parallel streets, dominated by massive concrete buildings associated with the hot springs and some shops and restaurants aimed at visitors, mainly Japanese.
But a little farther north is Jigokudani, known as Hell Valley, given its lush, green and mottled landscape and yellows and whites through the sweltering waters that emerge at various points of the ground, filling the air with sulphurous gauze and unpleasant smells.
Around Jigokudani there are several trails, which can be easily reached in less than 2 hours, which lead to viewpoints and Oyunuma Pond, a lake of murky, bubbling waters from which dense and sulphurous steam gives off.
Onsen is an unavoidable word from a trip around Japan, and refers to hot springs, which are located all over the country, and are associated with communal bath houses. The visit to the onsen is part of the life of the japanese and it's a very relaxing experience. It worthwhile to try onsen in various regions with different types of waters, many for therapeutic purposes.
How to reach Noboribetsu Onsen from Noboribetsu:
The cheapest option is to stay in the village of Noboribetsu, close to the train station, and visit the Onsen area in a day trip.
There are buses leaving from the train station regularly during all the day. The round trip costs 340yen and you can buy the ticket in a machine, inside the train station. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
Where to experience the onsen in Noboribetsu:
The cheapest option in town is the public onsen (Yumoto Sagiriyu), but people with tattoos are not allowed.
So my choice was the small Kashoutei Hanaya that has 1 outdoor bath and 1 indoor bath; it cost 1000 yen, and you don’t need to bring anything (shampoo, shower soap, conditioner and towel are always free at onsen) and you can stay the time you want; tea and coffee are available for free. It’s located a bit away from the Noboribetsu Onsen but not more than 5 minutes walking south.
For more information about onsen in Noboribetsu check this link: //good-hokkaido.info/en/noboribetsuonsen/
From this experience was the wonderful feeling of being immersed in an outdoor pool surrounded by trees, feeling the steam of the water that is over 45 degrees while blowing an icy breeze. A mixture of indescribable sensations … and an experience to repeat!!!
Where to sleep in Noboribetsu:
In fact there’s not much to se or do in Noboribetsu village, but here you can get budget accommodation is Noboribetsu Guesthouse AKA &AO (//aka-ao.jp/en/).
Where to eat in Noboribetsu:
Yakitori Izakaya (ask at AKA &AO Guesthouse)… the only restaurant open in town for dinner. Delicious food with many vegetarian options in a cosy countryside atmosphere. Yummy!!!
… otherwise you have the convenience stores and supermarkets with ready made food.