Jun 30, 2017

Hokkaido Spring Day 3: Noboribetsu

It was the last working day for my Hokkaido Rail Pass and it was perfect to offset my JR Super Express Train Hokuto to Norboribetsu. A one way trip on this train from Sapporo to Noboribetsu will set you back at 4480 yen (roughly 72 minutes) so if you ever intend to make long distance day trips like these, plan them according to your Rail Pass availability.


I passed by the Odori Park on my way to the Train Station. It was a nice stretch of green within the big metropolitan city.

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Noboribetsu is a city southwest of Sapporo and is famous for it's Hot Spring resort - the largest in Hokkaido. The source of it's mineral rich water comes from a volcanic valley aptly named Jogokudani (Hell's Valley)  due to it's bubbling water and hot steam visage. The valley doesn't just provide Hot spring water ,  it's majestic and rocky landscapes also stands out as a worthy attraction on it's own . The volcanic activities happening at different areas of the town such as the footbath along the river, provides soothing entertainment for all Travellers. Having been a non-stop foot soldier the past few days, I was more than ready to jump into any Onsen I could get my feet (pun intended) in!

The train was a long but comfortable journey of roughly 72 minutes. A perfect time for me to relax over a humble but delicious spread of convenience store breakfast and catch up on some Vlogging. I didn't managed to get myself a reserved seat (they were sold out!) so I had to try my luck at the unreserved cabins. Thank God  for the lovely window seat I found!

If you are interested, here is the train schedule for JR Sapporo station from JR Noboribetsu station. 


After I finally arrived at JR Noboribetsu Station, I had to board another bus to get to the area where the Jigokudani (Hell's Valley) and Noboribetsu Onsen are.Return tickets from JR Noboribetsu Station to Noboribetsu Onsen cost 620yen (310 yen each way). The journey is roughly 25 minutes.

Here is the bus schedule.


After alighting from the bus, you can get to the Hell's Valley in roughly 10 minutes on foot. But I must admit that I can never be trusted with time since I sidetrack as easily as a dog after a squirrel xD

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The resort town itself is quaint and has all your familiar modern facilities. It even feels suspiciously touristy if you get what I mean. Grab a cone of ice cream to accompany you on this uphill walk as you take in everything at your pace.

Noboribetsu Onsen Town is located in a mountainous region and most of the attractions can be reached by foot. Bus services are also available but they don’t happen very frequently. Something I didn’t do but you probably should, is to take the bus from Noboribestu Station straight to the individual attractions you like to see. 

Highlights of the town other than soaking in soothing, sulphuric water include trekking. And trek I did. Below are the walking map I got at the Noboribetsu Bus Terminal.

Evernote Snapshot 20170506 231406 Evernote Snapshot 20170506 232048

My first stop of the day was of course, the source of the town’s lingering sulphuric odor and mysterious rising smoke – Hell Valley (Jigokudani)! Check out the grandeur of the rocky hills! The closest bus stop to the Jidokudani Entrance is “Daiichi Takimotokan”, which you can choose to alight at instead of “Noboribestu Onsen” to cut down on the walking time.

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The vibrant grey and orange hues in the rocks were just beautiful. I wish I could have taken a dip in the sulphuric water here. I suppose this will give me an excuse to visit the place again!

Just right outside the entrance is the Sengen Park. It’s a small open space area with tables and benches for you to relax or picnic. An erupting geyser parked at the corner of the space is the focal point as hot clouds of steam gushes and boil every few hours. The space is also decorated with five pillar of devil’s tooth cudgel, albeit in a cute, colourful and non-threatening form. As the town is famous for it’s aptly named Hell’ Valley and the water it provides, Hell demons are chosen to be the mascot of the town.






I visited the Tessen Pond ( Tessen Ike) but didn’t have any luck to witness a sprouting gyser. All I saw were bubbling water in a small well of water, can’t say that was exciting.


Since I arrived close to noon, I decided to skip lunch and start on my walking trails immediately. Watch my vlog to see what I did that day.

I was disappointed to find out that two of the attractions were closed due to falling rocks after I had dragged my heavy feet to it. When I was there early this May, Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath and the Taisho Jigoku were closed.

I spend most of my time tumbling around the rocks and getting ridiculously lost because ... I'm just not good at directions ok? Convenience stores are only available in the lower region of the town (the uphill area after you alight from the Bus terminal) so make sure you prepare some light snacks and bottled water to keep your energy high. I wasn't feeling my best when I was there and the lack of sugar in my blood made me felt horrible at the beginning of my walk. Once you get outside the town, the only places you can get a drink would be the vending machines inside the hotels.


Mt. Hiyori and Oyunuma.

It took a bit of getting lost to reach here, but the view was worth it. The otherworldly blue-grey water (Oyunuma) and the rising clouds of steam formed an occult and breathtaking scenery.

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Further down from the observation deck overlooking Mt.Hiyori was a small volcanic crater named Oku-no-yu. It is part of Mt. Kuttara and the water’s temperature ranges from 75 degree celsius to 87 degree celsius. The little crater that looked more like a pond was filled with simmering blue-green water.


Beside the little crater was the Oyunuma Lake and it’s steaming clouds. The setting sun casted a beautiful orange glow on the blue-grey landscape and it was glorious!



Between the two bodies of water was a carpark. So if you’re ever travelling with a family, another travel option would be to drive over directly. Parking space are available everywhere.

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Japan’s Children’s day was around the corner when I was there and Koinobori (Fish Flags) were flown everywhere. I had hoped to catch cute little children in intricate Kimonos but no luck there!

The sun had begun to set by now and I decided it was time to quell my hunger. So back to the town centre I go! I popped into the drug store and the Dollar Yen store to get some shopping done but ended only buying a Kitten Washi Tape from the Dollar store. It was so adorable!



I finally had my second meal of the day at around 6 pm. I was walking back to the town center and had no idea what to feed my growling stomach. But I was soon seduced by the aroma of grilling Takoyaki at a little Japanese stall just 5 minutes away from the Bus terminal. I got a plate of 8 for 500yen and they were the perfect fuel for my cold and tired body. I only regret not ordering another plate! The quaint and smoky little stall feels so authentic I almost expected a middle-aged Japanese businessman to start a brawl booze fight haha.


To end my meal on a sweet note, I got myself a delicious almond and matcha ice cream from the convenience stall. Then I boarded the bus back to JR Noboribetsu Station and went on my way back to Sapporo. I love the train stations in Japan. I cannot explain why I love it so much but I suspect it’s rustic appeal has something to do with that.

The Bus Terminal has coin lockers within it so you don't have to worry about your baggage around if the town is just an en route stop over.

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I started a little sketchbook for my trip this time as a new way to remember the memories. I had a lot of fun with it =)


I bought some snacks and beverage to relax at the communal area of the Hostel that evening since it was my last evening with The Stay Sapporo. However my evening didn’t end as peacefully as I hoped as the SD-card I used in my DSLR decided to crash and die on me. Thankfully, I was able to recover most of the photographs  through a program but the videos were lost forever. Oh well, I’m just grateful to get my photographs back so no complains on my end! 

I hope you had fun reading about my trip. Bye!

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