It smells of sulphur!
Noboribetsu is a high place of volcanic activity, which can be approached to appreciate all its magnificence for centuries. And its festivals are famous for their warm atmospheres!
Noboribetsu the famous
Located in the heart of Hokkaido , Noboribetsu is just one hour from Sapporo Shin-Chitose Airport. This easy access makes this place very popular.
In the Ainu language, noboribetsu means "dark colored river" , and it is true that the rivers here are very special, because they are colorful, often white as milk, but above all hot, very hot even, between 45°C and 90° VS ! Don't think about it for swimming, or just tiptoe in the ashiyu provided for this purpose.
Discover the Ainu culture:
Noboribetsu is therefore one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan. Known since the Edo period (1603-1868), thanks to the volcanic activity of Mount Hiyori (377 meters), from which 10,000 tons of hot water flow daily from 9 different sources . These waters are reputed to cure all ills, and they supply the onsen of all the establishments that have been built nearby, in the spa town below.
Oni be who thinks wrong
In Noboribetsu, you smell sulfur everywhere, and you see the mouths constantly belching smoke. The guardian of the underworld, Oni , welcomes you as soon as you arrive on site, you cannot miss him. He is very tall, has long teeth and carries a large club in his hand. It is supposed to protect the source and chase away evil spirits.
He has a second home here in Jigoku-dani, the Valley of Hell , which has been volcanically active for 10,000 years. This open-air explosion crater , with fumaroles everywhere, sulphur, boiling water, white rivers, and all these amazingly colored rocks, you can experience it thanks to a landscaped walk (15 minutes on the tower) which allows you to be right in the heart. It will be an unforgettable experience for you, smells on the skin and warm sensations, like that given by the Tessen-ike geyser whose water gushes out at 80°C.
See also: Japanese monsters and ghosts
The volcanic walk does not stop on such a good path, you can continue to progress towards Ôyunuma. The Ôyunuma pond quietly awaits you, with its hot, steaming, even bubbling waters, which sometimes gush out at 130°C . These sulfur waters arise from an old crater which they have filled. A river flows and mixes with the waters of this pond which is far too warm to swim in, apart from the feet, no more.
An observation post allows you to admire the surroundings in the best conditions to appreciate all its beauty, and during the kôyô of autumn, it's even better.
Autumn in Hokkaido:
During the last weekend of August, you can attend Jigoku-matsuri, the big Noboribetsu festival , with the parade in the streets, the mikoshi procession, traditional dances and the Oni will even be out!
Also read: Matsuri, Japanese festivals
All summer long, on Thursday and Friday evenings, fireworks magnify the city.
But you can also come here in the middle of winter , all this volcanic activity will warm you up, as immersing yourself in the onsen is an untold happiness. There are about fifteen ryokans in Noboribetsu. The coldest month? February. It is at this time that a very specific festival in Noboribetsu takes place, the Yu-matsuri , during which the men, shirtless, 'fight' in teams by throwing boiling water on each other . , all to thank the benefits of nature, these sources of life.
To go a little further…
There is the Noboribetsu Bear Farm , accessible by cable car (7 minutes ride) from the city. You will come into contact with the brown bear and the Asiatic black bear, protected animals in Hokkaido, this place acting as a research center since 1958.
Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura is a kind of amusement park resembling a village reconstituted as in the Edo period, to discover and understand the culture as well as the daily life of that time. Here you will find ninja houses, a labyrinth, ninja, maiko , samurai costumes , a sword exhibition, an Edo house, ninja and oiran (courtesans) performances.
Address, timetable & access
TimetableBy train: from Sapporo, Muroran line, Noboribetsu station, then 15 minutes by bus.