Noboribetsu Travel Guide: Top 33 Things to Do in Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu, a gem nestled in the heart of Hokkaido, Japan, is a destination that epitomizes the harmonious blend of natural wonder, cultural richness, and relaxation. This travel guide delves into the multifaceted allure of Noboribetsu, guiding visitors through its enchanting landscapes, therapeutic hot springs, and a culture steeped in history and tradition.

Noboribetsu Travel Guide: Top 33 Things to do in this onsen town in Hokkaido, Japan

The Heart of Noboribetsu: Onsen Experience

Noboribetsu’s most celebrated feature is its hot springs, or onsen. This region is part of a volcanic zone, which fuels the variety of mineral-rich waters, each offering unique health benefits. The centerpiece is the Noboribetsu Onsen town, a haven for those seeking both healing and escape. The waters here, sourced from the iconic Jigokudani or “Hell Valley,” are revered for their therapeutic qualities. This area offers an array of onsen experiences, from communal baths to luxurious ryokans (traditional inns) with private springs, each promising a serene escape amidst scenic natural beauty.

Jigokudani: The Dramatic Volcanic Valley

Jigokudani, translating to ‘Hell Valley’, presents a landscape that is both awe-inspiring and surreal. This volcanic crater, with its steaming vents and boiling rivers, offers a glimpse into the earth’s primordial forces. Trails weave through this otherworldly terrain, leading adventurers to scenic viewpoints and hidden wonders like Oyunuma, a sulfurous pond, and the footbath along the River Oyunuma.

Cultural Immersion: Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura

For a journey back in time, Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura is an immersive theme park replicating an Edo Period village. It offers a vibrant exploration of Japan’s rich history and culture. Visitors can engage with traditional games, witness enthralling ninja shows, and meander through historically accurate reconstructions of samurai and ninja houses, providing an interactive experience of Japan’s storied past.

Gastronomic Delights

Noboribetsu’s culinary scene is as diverse as it is exquisite. The proximity to the sea and fertile lands contribute to a cuisine rich in fresh seafood and agricultural produce. Signature dishes like kaisendon (seafood bowl) are a must-try, offering a taste of the ocean’s bounty. The dining experiences range from luxurious ryokan feasts to cozy izakayas (Japanese pubs), catering to every palate.

Natural Escapades

Beyond its hot springs, Noboribetsu boasts natural attractions like the pristine Lake Kuttara and the expansive Shikotsu-Toya National Park. These sites offer a plethora of activities like hiking, bird watching, and simply basking in the tranquility of Hokkaido’s untouched wilderness.

Festivals and Seasonal Splendor

Noboribetsu’s calendar is dotted with vibrant festivals and events. The Noboribetsu Hell Festival, with its lively parades and demonic dances, is a summer highlight. In winter, the town transforms into a luminous wonderland with its enchanting illuminations.

Visitors are encouraged to experience Noboribetsu across different seasons, each offering a unique charm. The region is accessible by train or bus from major cities like Sapporo, and renting a car offers the flexibility to explore at one’s own pace. Accommodation options range from opulent ryokans to budget-friendly hostels, catering to a spectrum of travelers. Bookings should ideally be made well in advance, especially during peak seasons.

Noboribetsu was one of our favourite destinations in Hokkaido, Japan

Sustainable Tourism and Etiquette

Noboribetsu, in its commitment to preserving its natural and cultural heritage, encourages sustainable tourism practices. Visitors are also advised to acquaint themselves with local customs, especially regarding onsen etiquette, to ensure a respectful and enriching experience.

Noboribetsu is more than just a travel destination; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Japan’s natural splendor, rich cultural tapestry, and the unwavering warmth of its hospitality. Whether indulging in the therapeutic waters of its onsens, exploring historical landscapes, or savoring its culinary delights, Noboribetsu promises a journey that resonates with sophistication, tranquility, and an unforgettable immersion into the heart of Japanese culture.

Noboribetsu Demon Spirit Sculpture With Giant Club In Hand in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu City Guide: A Brief History Of Noboribetsu, Japan For Visitors

Noboribetsu, nestled in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, Japan, is a region steeped in a rich and diverse history that enhances its fame as a premier hot spring destination. This exploration into its past reveals a deep connection with the indigenous Ainu people, who revered the hot springs and volcanic activities as sacred, embodying spiritual significance. Artifacts and historical sites scattered across the region offer a window into the Ainu’s rich cultural tapestry.

The area’s geological makeup, heavily influenced by volcanic activity, shaped its landscape, giving rise to the hot springs that are central to Noboribetsu’s identity. The Hell Valley, or Jigokudani, serves as a stark reminder of these ancient volcanic forces. During Japan’s feudal era, the region fell under the influence of the Matsumae clan, the only samurai clan in Hokkaido. This period marked the beginning of the organized exploitation of Noboribetsu’s natural resources, including its mineral-rich hot springs.

The Edo Period

The Edo period brought about an increased interaction with the Japanese mainland, leading to the recognition of Noboribetsu’s hot springs for their therapeutic properties. The Meiji Restoration, a time of rapid modernization in Japan, further transformed Noboribetsu. The development of structured onsen resorts catered to the burgeoning trend of hot spring tourism, and the establishment of railway networks made the area more accessible.

Post-World War II Japan saw a surge in domestic tourism, propelling Noboribetsu to new heights. The town expanded its onsen facilities and developed hotels and ryokans to accommodate the influx of visitors. Alongside this growth, there was a heightened awareness of the need to protect the natural environment, leading to conservation efforts to preserve the hot springs and their surroundings.

Nomadic Samuel enjoying the Ryokan life in Noboribetsu, Japan

Recent History

In recent decades, Noboribetsu has gained international acclaim, drawing tourists from around the globe. The town has skillfully balanced the preservation of its natural and cultural heritage with the demands of a global audience. Modern Noboribetsu is a fusion of historical heritage and contemporary culture, with attractions like Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura offering a glimpse into Japan’s feudal past, while continuing to celebrate and preserve Ainu culture and traditions.

Today, Noboribetsu’s history enriches the experience of its visitors, who are drawn not only for relaxation and scenic beauty but also to immerse themselves in the region’s unique cultural and historical narrative. From its ancient roots to its present status as a top hot spring destination, Noboribetsu stands as a testament to the enduring allure of Japan’s natural and cultural heritage.

Explore Jigokudani (Hell Valley) in Noboribetsu in Hokkaido, Japan

Top 33 Things To Do in Noboribetsu, Japan For Visitors

Noboribetsu, a jewel in Hokkaido, Japan, offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are the top 33 things to do in Noboribetsu, each presenting a unique facet of this enchanting destination:

1. Explore Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

  • Experience the extraordinary geothermal area with boiling sulfuric hot springs, steaming ponds, and volcanic activity.

2. Relax in Noboribetsu Onsen

  • Indulge in the therapeutic hot springs, each with different mineral compositions and health benefits.

3. Visit Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura

  • Step back in time at this theme park recreating an Edo Period village with samurai and ninja experiences.

Enjoy the Oyunuma River Natural Footbath in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

4. Enjoy the Oyunuma River Natural Footbath

  • Soak your feet in the warm, mineral-rich waters of this natural footbath.

5. Trek to Oyunuma Pond

  • Hike to this large sulfurous pond with its mesmerizing, steamy waters.

6. Discover the Ainu Culture at Ainu Museum

  • Learn about the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido and their rich cultural heritage.

7. Stroll Through Noboribetsu Bear Park

  • Witness and learn about brown bears in a large sanctuary.

8. Visit Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe

  • Explore this aquarium with its medieval European castle theme, showcasing diverse marine life.

9. Hike the Noboribetsu Primeval Forest

  • Experience the serene beauty of this untouched forest, home to diverse flora and fauna.

10. Relish Local Cuisine

  • Taste the local flavors, especially seafood dishes like kaisendon and Hokkaido’s famous dairy products.

11. Attend the Noboribetsu Hell Festival

  • Experience this unique summer festival featuring “demon” parades and dances.

Nomadic Samuel walking across a covered pedestrian bridge in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

12. Enjoy Onsen Street

13. Visit Lake Kuttara

  • See one of Japan’s clearest lakes, surrounded by pristine nature.

14. Experience River Rafting

  • Join a guided rafting tour on one of the nearby rivers for an adventurous experience.

15. Take a Dip in Oku-no-Yu

  • Visit these secluded hot springs for a more private onsen experience.

16. Golfing in Noboribetsu

  • Play a round of golf surrounded by Hokkaido’s stunning natural beauty.

17. Explore Shikotsu-Toya National Park

  • A haven for nature lovers with activities like hiking, camping, and bird watching.

18. Try Snow Activities in Winter

  • Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other snow activities during the winter season.

19. Witness the Winter Illuminations

  • Be enchanted by the magical light displays in winter.

20. Participate in Traditional Japanese Festivals

  • Engage in local cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

21. Photography at Sengen Park

  • Capture stunning views of the surrounding landscape and Jigokudani.

22. Explore the Nishiyama Crater Walking Trail

  • A trail leading to the site of the 1977 Mount Kuttara eruption, with craters and barren landscapes.

23. Visit the Noboribetsu Gateway Center

  • A great starting point for information and insights into the area’s attractions.

24. Shop for Unique Souvenirs

  • Buy local crafts, sweets, and onsen-related products.

25. Relax at Noboribetsu Onsen Park

  • A park offering a peaceful retreat and great views of the surrounding area.

26. Take the Noboribetsu Ropeway

  • Enjoy panoramic views of Hell Valley and the surrounding mountains.

27. Explore the Horobetsu Mine

  • Learn about the region’s mining history at this abandoned mine site.

28. Visit the River Oyunuma

  • A scenic spot with warm river waters, perfect for a relaxing stroll.

29. Enjoy Cycling Tours

  • Explore the scenic countryside and coastline on a bicycle.

30. Participate in Onsen Yoga

  • Experience the unique combination of yoga and onsen for relaxation.

31. Attend a Japanese Tea Ceremony

  • Experience the traditional Japanese tea ceremony in a local tea house.

32. Explore Washo Market in Kushiro

  • A short trip to this market offers fresh seafood and local produce.

33. Witness the Shiraoi Ainu Museum

  • A museum dedicated to the history and culture of the Ainu people, offering a deeper understanding of the region’s indigenous heritage.

Each of these activities in Noboribetsu, from soaking in the therapeutic hot springs to exploring the rich cultural and natural heritage, offers visitors a unique and enriching experience. Whether seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Noboribetsu has something to captivate every traveler.

Noboribetsu spicy ramen noodles are world class and delicious as a must try dish in Hokkaido, Japan

What To Eat and Drink in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu, in Hokkaido, Japan, is not only a haven for hot spring enthusiasts but also a paradise for food lovers. The region’s culinary landscape is influenced by its rich natural resources, including fresh seafood from the nearby ocean, high-quality dairy products from local farms, and a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Here’s a detailed guide on what to eat and drink when you’re in Noboribetsu:

Seafood Delicacies

  1. Kaisendon: A must-try dish in Noboribetsu, this is a bowl of rice topped with a variety of fresh, raw seafood such as salmon, tuna, sea urchin, and crab.
  2. Sushi and Sashimi: Enjoy the freshest catches prepared as sushi and sashimi, showcasing the delicate flavors of the sea.
  3. Grilled Fish: Sample local fish varieties like hokke (Atka mackerel), grilled to perfection with a smoky flavor.
  4. Crab Dishes: Hokkaido is famous for its crab, and Noboribetsu offers various crab dishes, from boiled or grilled crab to crab hot pots.

Meat and Poultry

  1. Genghis Khan (Jingisukan): A popular Hokkaido dish, this is a savory grilled mutton barbecue often cooked at the table over a dome-shaped metal grill.
  2. Chicken Yakitori: Skewered and grilled chicken, often seasoned with salt or tare sauce, is a simple yet delicious treat.

Vegetarian Options

  1. Tofu and Vegetable Dishes: Fresh tofu and a variety of local vegetables are used in dishes like Yudofu (boiled tofu) or tempura.
  2. Soba Noodles: These buckwheat noodles can be enjoyed cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot, flavorful broth.

Dairy and Sweets

  1. Soft Serve Ice Cream: Hokkaido is famous for its dairy, and the soft serve ice cream here is creamy and rich.
  2. Cheese: Sample local cheeses, which are often incorporated into various dishes or enjoyed on their own.
  3. Melons and Other Fruits: Hokkaido’s Yubari melons are a sweet treat, along with other fresh fruits like apples and strawberries.

Beverages

  1. Local Sake: Noboribetsu offers a selection of local sake, perfect for pairing with seafood and other Japanese dishes.
  2. Craft Beers: Hokkaido’s thriving craft beer scene means there are plenty of local brews to try, each with its unique flavor profile.
  3. Whiskey: Sample Japanese whiskey, which has gained international acclaim for its quality.
  4. Green Tea: A staple in Japanese cuisine, enjoy freshly brewed green tea, which complements almost every meal.
  5. Mineral Water: The mineral-rich waters of Noboribetsu are not only good for bathing but also for drinking, known for their health benefits.

Street Food and Snacks

  1. Seafood Snacks: Try various seafood snacks available at local markets, including dried fish and squid.
  2. Onigiri: These rice balls with various fillings are perfect for a quick snack.
  3. Sweets and Pastries: Japanese pastries and sweets, often made with local ingredients, are a delight for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Eating at an Onsen Ryokan

  1. Kaiseki Dinner: If staying at a ryokan, don’t miss the traditional kaiseki dinner, a multi-course meal that showcases the chef’s artistry and the season’s best ingredients.
  2. Hot Spring Boiled Eggs: Some onsens offer eggs boiled in the hot spring waters, which have a unique taste and texture.

In Noboribetsu, every meal is an opportunity to explore the rich culinary heritage of Hokkaido. From luxurious kaiseki meals to simple yet delicious street food, the variety and quality of food in this region are bound to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re sitting down for a fine dining experience or grabbing a quick bite at a local market, the flavors of Noboribetsu are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Noboribetsu offers ryokan style meals that you can eat right in the inn that you are staying in Hokkaido, Japan

Top Restaurants In Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu, a renowned hot spring destination in Hokkaido, Japan, not only offers scenic beauty and relaxing baths but also a rich culinary experience. Here’s a detailed guide to some of the top restaurants in Noboribetsu, where visitors can indulge in a variety of local and international cuisines:

1. Sobadokoro Yumoto Noboribetsu

  • Cuisine: Specializes in soba (buckwheat noodles).
  • Ambiance: Traditional Japanese setting.
  • Signature Dishes: Freshly made soba noodles served either cold with dipping sauce or in a hot broth.
  • Location: Conveniently located near Noboribetsu Onsen.

2. Onsen Ichiba

  • Cuisine: Seafood and local Hokkaido dishes.
  • Ambiance: A market-style restaurant with a lively atmosphere.
  • Specialties: Fresh seafood bowls, crab dishes, and a variety of sashimi.
  • Additional Info: Also offers a selection of local sake and beer.

3. Ryoshi No Tsubohachi Noboribetsu Honten

  • Cuisine: Japanese Izakaya-style dining.
  • Ambiance: Casual and cozy, ideal for groups and families.
  • Highlights: Grilled seafood and meat dishes, along with a variety of small plates.
  • Location: In the heart of Noboribetsu Onsen Town.

4. Kyo Kaiseki Miyoshi

  • Cuisine: Traditional Japanese kaiseki (multi-course meal).
  • Ambiance: Elegant and serene, offering a true Japanese dining experience.
  • Specialties: Seasonally inspired dishes using the freshest local ingredients.
  • Note: Reservation is highly recommended due to limited seating.

Traditional ramen worth trying in Noboribetsu Onsen Town in Hokkaido, Japan

5. Dairyu Ramen Noboribetsu

  • Cuisine: Ramen.
  • Ambiance: Casual and friendly.
  • Famous For: Rich and flavorful ramen, with a variety of broths and toppings.
  • Additional Info: Popular among both locals and tourists.

6. Okakuratenshudo

  • Cuisine: French and Japanese fusion.
  • Ambiance: Upscale and intimate.
  • Signature Dishes: Fusion dishes that blend French techniques with Japanese flavors.
  • Location: Situated with a view overlooking Noboribetsu.

7. Sugiyohoen Noboribetsu

  • Cuisine: Traditional Japanese.
  • Ambiance: Tranquil and authentic.
  • Highlights: Known for its excellent sushi and sashimi, as well as traditional Japanese sweets.
  • Location: A short distance from the main onsen area.

8. Boyotei

  • Cuisine: Japanese and Western-style café.
  • Ambiance: Cozy and welcoming.
  • Popular Items: A variety of cakes, coffee, and light meals.
  • Special Note: Great for a relaxing break during sightseeing.

9. Noboribetsu Manseikaku

  • Cuisine: Buffet-style with a wide range of Japanese and international dishes.
  • Ambiance: Spacious and family-friendly.
  • Features: A large selection of dishes, making it ideal for groups with diverse tastes.
  • Location: Inside the Manseikaku hotel complex.

10. Karabu

  • Cuisine: Japanese barbecue.
  • Ambiance: Casual and lively.
  • Specialties: Genghis Khan (Jingisukan) barbecue, where guests cook lamb and vegetables on a grill at their table.
  • Extra: A fun and interactive dining experience.

11. Wakasaimo Hompo Noboribetsu Honten

  • Cuisine: Sweets and snacks.
  • Ambiance: Casual and perfect for quick bites.
  • Must-Try: Famous for its Wakasaimo, a sweet potato confectionery, and other local sweets.
  • Location: Good for picking up souvenirs and snacks.

12. Hakuchozan

  • Cuisine: Chinese.
  • Ambiance: Relaxed and informal.
  • Highlights: Offers a variety of Chinese dishes, including ramen and stir-fried dishes.
  • Location: A nice change of pace from traditional Japanese cuisine.

Each of these restaurants in Noboribetsu provides a unique dining experience, whether you’re looking for traditional Japanese flavors, international cuisine, or casual eats. From upscale kaiseki dining to cozy izakayas and ramen shops, Noboribetsu’s culinary scene caters to all tastes and preferences, making it an integral part of the travel experience in this beautiful hot spring town.

Noboribetsu natural foot bath is a relaxing and tranquil way to experience the beauty this town has to offer in Hokkaido, Japan

Tours For Visitors To Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu offers a wealth of experiences for visitors. To fully immerse in this region’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and unique attractions, various tours are available, catering to diverse interests. Here’s an in-depth look at some of the tours visitors can enjoy in Noboribetsu:

1. Jigokudani (Hell Valley) Guided Tours

  • Overview: Explore the breathtaking volcanic landscapes of Jigokudani with an expert guide.
  • Highlights: Learn about the geothermal activity, visit steaming sulfur vents, and see the strikingly blue Oyunuma Pond.
  • Duration: Typically half-day tours.

2. Noboribetsu Onsen and Spa Tours

  • Overview: Experience the therapeutic benefits of Noboribetsu’s famous hot springs.
  • Features: Visit various onsen facilities, learn about the different mineral compositions, and enjoy a relaxing bath.
  • Customization: Some tours may include spa treatments or private onsen experiences.

Noboribetsu Nature Hikes through Noboribetsu’s pristine natural landscapes is one of the best experiences in this onsen town in Hokkaido, Japan

3. Noboribetsu Nature Hikes

  • Overview: Guided hiking tours through Noboribetsu’s pristine natural landscapes.
  • Trails: Explore trails in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, around Lake Kuttara, or through Noboribetsu Primeval Forest.
  • Focus: Bird watching, nature photography, and learning about local flora and fauna.

4. Cultural and Historical Tours

  • Overview: Delve into the rich culture and history of Noboribetsu and surrounding areas.
  • Stops: Visit the Ainu Museum, Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura (Edo period theme park), and historical landmarks.
  • Experience: Engage in Ainu cultural experiences, samurai and ninja shows, and traditional crafts.

5. Gastronomy Tours

  • Overview: A culinary journey through Noboribetsu’s diverse food scene.
  • Inclusions: Visit local markets, seafood restaurants, and try regional specialties like kaisendon, ramen, and dairy products.
  • Option: Some tours might include cooking classes or sake tasting sessions.

6. Photography Tours

  • Overview: Tailored for photography enthusiasts wanting to capture Noboribetsu’s scenic beauty.
  • Highlights: Focus on landscape and nature photography in Jigokudani, Lake Kuttara, and other picturesque locations.
  • Guidance: Led by professional photographers, offering tips and insights.

7. Adventure and Sports Tours

  • Overview: For those seeking an adrenaline rush, these tours offer outdoor sports and activities.
  • Activities: Options include river rafting, mountain biking, or golfing in scenic courses.
  • Seasonal: Winter sports tours for skiing and snowboarding are available during colder months.

8. Relaxation and Wellness Tours

  • Overview: Focus on wellness and relaxation, combining onsen experiences with other soothing activities.
  • Features: May include yoga sessions, meditation in natural settings, and wellness workshops.
  • Extra: Some tours offer nutritional advice and holistic health sessions.

9. Seasonal Festivals and Events Tours

  • Overview: Experience local festivals and events with an expert guide.
  • Examples: Noboribetsu Hell Festival, winter illuminations, and cherry blossom viewings.
  • Benefit: Guides provide cultural insights and help navigate crowded events.

10. Family-Friendly Tours

  • Overview: Designed for families, these tours include activities and destinations suitable for all ages.
  • Activities: Visits to Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe, Bear Park, and interactive cultural experiences.
  • Convenience: These tours often include comfortable transportation and kid-friendly dining options.

11. Customized Private Tours

  • Overview: Tailored tours based on personal interests and preferences.
  • Flexibility: Choose your itinerary, pace, and specific interests.
  • Personalization: Ideal for those who desire a more intimate and bespoke travel experience.

Each of these tours in Noboribetsu is designed to provide an immersive and enriching experience, allowing visitors to connect deeply with the region’s natural wonders, cultural heritage, and local lifestyle. Whether it’s exploring the mystical landscapes, indulging in hot spring baths, savoring the local cuisine, or engaging in adventurous activities, Noboribetsu has a tour that caters to every traveler’s desires.

Noboribetsu is an onsen town with mountain views in Hokkaido, Japan with a wide range of accommodations including ryokans - digital art

Noboribetsu Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Noboribetsu, renowned for its hot springs and breathtaking natural beauty, offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs, from luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses and budget-friendly hostels. Here is a comprehensive guide to some of the best places to stay in Noboribetsu:

Luxury Hotels and Ryokans

  1. Dai-ichi Takimotokan
    • Overview: A prestigious ryokan known for its expansive onsen facilities and traditional hospitality.
    • Features: Multiple types of hot spring baths, spectacular views, traditional Japanese rooms, and exquisite kaiseki cuisine.
    • Location: Centrally located, close to Jigokudani (Hell Valley).
  2. Noboribetsu Grand Hotel
    • Overview: Offers a blend of traditional Japanese and modern amenities.
    • Facilities: Large onsen baths, including open-air options, and a range of dining experiences.
    • Specialty: Known for its sulfur spring, which is believed to have healing properties.

Enjoying traditional Japanese tea seated down in our Ryokan in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Mid-Range Options

  1. Hotel Mahoroba
    • Overview: A comfortable hotel with a focus on relaxation and dining.
    • Features: 31 different types of hot spring baths and a variety of room types, including Western-style rooms.
    • Dining: Several restaurants offering Japanese, Chinese, and buffet-style meals.
  2. Park Hotel Miyabitei
    • Overview: Located near Jigokudani, known for its charming ambiance.
    • Facilities: Onsen baths with natural hot spring water, traditional Japanese rooms, and Western-style options.
    • Extra: Offers beautiful views of the surrounding nature.

Budget Accommodations

  1. Noboribetsu Guesthouse Aka & Kuro
    • Overview: A cozy guesthouse offering a friendly, homely atmosphere.
    • Type: Both private rooms and dormitory options available.
    • Extra: Shared kitchen and lounge area, perfect for budget travelers and backpackers.
  2. Noboribetsu Manseikaku
    • Overview: A budget-friendly hotel with good facilities.
    • Amenities: Indoor and outdoor onsen baths, comfortable rooms, and a buffet dining option.
    • Location: Within walking distance to many of Noboribetsu’s attractions.

Unique Stays

  1. Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu
    • Overview: Offers a unique, luxurious onsen experience.
    • Features: Private onsen baths, exquisite dining, and serene surroundings.
    • Ambiance: Traditional Japanese architecture and gardens create a tranquil retreat.
  2. Noboribetsu Onsenkyo Takinoya Hotel
    • Overview: Known for its high-quality service and exceptional onsen baths.
    • Facilities: Spa services, gourmet dining, and elegantly furnished rooms.
    • Extra: A perfect blend of modern luxury and traditional Japanese aesthetics.

Outside of our large Ryokan hotel that we stayed at in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Hostels for Backpackers

  1. Noboribetsu Backpackers Hostel
    • Overview: A budget-friendly and sociable option for backpackers.
    • Facilities: Dormitory-style rooms, communal kitchen, and lounge area.
    • Location: Conveniently located for exploring Noboribetsu’s attractions.

Family-Friendly Accommodations

  1. Noboribetsu Sekisuitei
    • Overview: Ideal for families, with spacious rooms and family-friendly onsen baths.
    • Features: Game rooms, children’s facilities, and a variety of meal options.
    • Extra: Set in a scenic location with easy access to local attractions.

Camping and Outdoor Options

  1. Noboribetsu Campgrounds
    • Overview: For those who love the outdoors, several campgrounds offer a closer connection to nature.
    • Facilities: Basic amenities, beautiful natural surroundings, and opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities.

Noboribetsu’s range of accommodations ensures that every traveler can find a comfortable place to stay, whether seeking luxury, comfort, budget options, or a unique experience. Each of these accommodations provides a different way to experience the natural and cultural wonders of Noboribetsu, making your stay an integral part of the travel experience. With options ranging from traditional ryokans to modern hotels and cozy hostels, there’s something in Noboribetsu for every taste and budget.

Lake Toya is a serene lake that you can visit that is not too far as a day trip in Hokkaido, Japan

Day Trips From Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu is an excellent base for exploring the wider region. The area is rich in natural beauty, cultural sites, and unique attractions, making it ideal for a variety of day trips. Here’s a detailed guide on some of the best day trips from Noboribetsu:

1. Lake Toya

  • Distance: About 1 hour by car.
  • Highlights: An incredibly scenic caldera lake known for its clear waters and picturesque landscapes. You can enjoy boat tours, visit the small islands in the lake, or explore the vibrant town of Toyako.
  • Activities: Hiking, hot spring baths, and visiting the Usuzan Ropeway for panoramic views of the lake and nearby Showa Shinzan.

2. Sapporo

  • Distance: Approximately 2 hours by train.
  • Key Attractions: As the capital city of Hokkaido, Sapporo offers urban exploration with attractions like the historic Clock Tower, Odori Park, and the Sapporo Beer Museum.
  • Shopping and Dining: Explore the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade or visit the famous Sapporo Fish Market for fresh seafood.

3. Otaru

  • Distance: About 2.5 hours by train.
  • Features: A charming port city known for its well-preserved canal area, glassworks, and music box museum.
  • Experience: Stroll along the Otaru Canal, visit the Otaru Aquarium, and enjoy the local seafood and sushi.

4. Shikotsu-Toya National Park

  • Distance: Around 1.5 hours by car.
  • Natural Beauty: The park is famous for its volcanic activity, pristine lakes (Lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya), and natural hot springs.
  • Activities: Hiking, canoeing, and visiting the volcanic Mount Usu and Showa Shinzan.

5. Niseko

  • Distance: Roughly 2 hours by car.
  • Attractions: Renowned for being one of Japan’s top skiing and snowboarding destinations with excellent powder snow.
  • Year-Round Activities: Apart from winter sports, Niseko offers outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, and golf during other seasons.

6. Muroran

  • Distance: About 1 hour by car.
  • Highlights: Coastal city known for its industrial heritage and natural formations like Cape Chikyu.
  • Sightseeing: Visit the Muroran Port and the Hakucho Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in eastern Japan.

7. Noboribetsu Bear Park

  • Distance: A short drive or bus ride from central Noboribetsu.
  • Unique Experience: A park dedicated to brown bears, offering an opportunity to observe and learn about these animals in a semi-natural environment.

8. Poroto Kotan

  • Distance: Approximately 30 minutes by car.
  • Cultural Insight: A small Ainu village offering a glimpse into the culture of Hokkaido’s indigenous people.
  • Activities: Explore Ainu crafts, performances, and the Shiraoi Ainu Museum.

9. Jozankei Onsen

  • Distance: About 2 hours by car.
  • Relaxation: A famous hot spring town located in a scenic valley.
  • Additional Attractions: Visit the nearby Houheikyo Dam and enjoy the autumn colors or the Jozankei Shrine.

10. Hakodate

  • Distance: About 3 hours by train.
  • Tourist Spots: Known for its spectacular night views from Mount Hakodate, historical sites like Goryokaku Fort, and the Hakodate Morning Market.
  • Experience: The city offers a unique blend of Japanese and Western influences, evident in its architecture and cuisine.

11. Asahikawa

  • Distance: Approximately 3.5 hours by train.
  • Highlights: Visit the Asahiyama Zoo, famous for its unique animal enclosures, and the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum.
  • Attractions: Explore the Snow Crystal Museum and enjoy the local ramen.

12. Furano and Biei

  • Distance: About 3 hours by car.
  • Scenery: Known for their picturesque landscapes, especially during the lavender season in summer.
  • Activities: Visit flower fields, enjoy the rural scenery, and explore local farms.

Nomadic Samuel standing outside Noboribetsu Train Station as a popular transportation to reach the onsen town in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu Transportation Guide

Navigating Noboribetsu, a popular hot spring town in Hokkaido, Japan, is key to enjoying its numerous attractions. Understanding the local transportation options can enhance your travel experience, allowing for easy and efficient exploration of the area. Here is a detailed guide to transportation in and around Noboribetsu:

Getting to Noboribetsu

  1. By Air:
    • The nearest airport to Noboribetsu is New Chitose Airport in Sapporo.
    • From the airport, you can take a train, bus, or rent a car to reach Noboribetsu.
  2. By Train:
    • The JR (Japan Railways) offers regular services to Noboribetsu.
    • The main station is Noboribetsu Station, located on the JR Muroran Line.
    • From major cities like Sapporo and Hakodate, take the JR Limited Express train to Noboribetsu Station.
  3. By Bus:
    • Buses are available from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport directly to Noboribetsu Onsen.
    • The Donan Bus and Hokkaido Chuo Bus operate regular services.
  4. By Car:
    • Renting a car provides flexibility, especially for exploring surrounding areas.
    • Noboribetsu is easily accessible via the Hokkaido Expressway.

Local Transportation in Noboribetsu

  1. Bus Services:
    • Local buses run between Noboribetsu Station and Noboribetsu Onsen, the main hot spring area.
    • Buses also connect to other attractions like Jigokudani (Hell Valley), Bear Park, and Date Jidaimura.
  2. Taxis:
    • Taxis are readily available and can be a convenient option, though more expensive.
    • Ideal for direct travel to your accommodation or specific attractions.
  3. Rental Cars:
    • Rental car agencies are available at Noboribetsu Station and in the Onsen area.
    • A good choice for those wanting to explore at their own pace or visit more remote areas.
  4. Walking:
    • Noboribetsu Onsen area is compact and pedestrian-friendly.
    • Many attractions, restaurants, and hot springs are within walking distance of each other.

Travel Tips

  1. Rail Passes:
  2. Bus Passes:
    • For extensive bus travel, look into local bus passes that offer unlimited travel for a fixed period.
  3. Navigation Apps:
    • Utilize navigation apps like Google Maps or Hyperdia for train and bus schedules.
  4. Driving in Hokkaido:
    • If driving, be prepared for winter conditions if traveling during the colder months.
    • English GPS is available in most rental cars.
  5. Parking and Traffic:
    • In popular areas like Noboribetsu Onsen, parking can be limited, especially during peak seasons.
    • Plan ahead for parking, particularly if staying at a hotel without its own parking facilities.
  6. Cycling:

Whether you’re using public transportation or driving, Noboribetsu is well-connected and traveler-friendly. The key is to plan your route in advance, especially if you wish to visit multiple destinations or are traveling during peak seasons. By understanding the local transportation options, you can navigate Noboribetsu with ease, ensuring a more relaxed and enjoyable visit to this stunning part of Hokkaido.

Natural Views Are A Big Part Of The Experience Of Visiting Noboribetsu Onsen Town in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu 1 Day Travel Itinerary

Embarking on a one-day journey through Noboribetsu, one of Hokkaido’s most renowned hot spring destinations, offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and relaxation. Here is a detailed itinerary for a fulfilling day in Noboribetsu:

Morning

Start at Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

  • Time: 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
  • Activity: Begin your day with a visit to Jigokudani, a spectacular volcanic crater with steaming vents and sulfurous streams, reminiscent of a landscape from another world.
  • Highlights: Explore the walking trails, witness the bubbling hot waters, and enjoy the dramatic views of this geothermal wonder.

Breakfast at Onsen Town

  • Time: 9:45 AM – 10:30 AM
  • Location: Head to one of the restaurants or cafes in Noboribetsu Onsen Town.
  • Suggestions: Try a traditional Japanese breakfast or indulge in a Western-style breakfast at your hotel or a local eatery.

Mid-Morning

Visit Oyunuma and River Oyunuma Natural Footbath

  • Time: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Activity: Take a serene walk to Oyunuma, a large sulfurous pond. Continue to the River Oyunuma Natural Footbath for a unique experience of dipping your feet in warm, mineral-rich waters.
  • Tip: Bring a towel for drying your feet after the footbath.

Afternoon

Lunch in Noboribetsu

  • Time: 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
  • Options: Choose from local specialties like soba noodles, seafood dishes, or the famous Hokkaido ramen.

Explore Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura

  • Time: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Experience: Step back in time at this cultural theme park that recreates a historical Japanese village from the Edo Period. Enjoy performances, traditional games, and the opportunity to dress in period costumes.

Late Afternoon

Relax at an Onsen

  • Time: 3:45 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Activity: Unwind in one of Noboribetsu’s famous onsens. Choose from public baths or visit a ryokan that offers day-use of their private onsen facilities.
  • Note: Familiarize yourself with onsen etiquette beforehand.

Evening

Dinner in Noboribetsu

  • Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Dining Options: Indulge in a kaiseki dinner at a ryokan for a traditional experience, or visit a local izakaya for a casual meal. Try regional dishes like Genghis Khan (grilled mutton) or fresh seafood.

Night

Stroll Through Noboribetsu Onsen Town

  • Time: 7:15 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Activity: Conclude your day with a leisurely stroll through the Onsen Town. The area is beautifully lit in the evening, creating a magical atmosphere.

Optional: Visit Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe (if time permits)

  • Time: 8:15 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Experience: If you have time, visit this unique aquarium with a European castle theme. It offers night-time viewing experiences, adding a different dimension to marine life observation.

Tips for Your Day Trip

  1. Wear Comfortable Footwear: Expect a fair amount of walking, especially in Jigokudani and during cultural explorations.
  2. Weather Preparedness: The weather can be unpredictable; carry an umbrella or raincoat and dress in layers.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Keep a bottle of water with you, especially when walking outdoors and after the onsen experience.
  4. Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of Japanese customs and etiquette, particularly in onsens and religious sites.
  5. Transportation: Plan your transportation in advance, whether using public transport, taxis, or a rental car, to ensure smooth travel between locations.

This one-day itinerary in Noboribetsu offers a balanced mix of exploration, cultural immersion, relaxation, and culinary delights, ensuring a memorable experience in one of Hokkaido’s most enchanting destinations.

Nomadic Samuel enjoying relaxing moments in Noboribetsu at a natural foot bath in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

Embarking on a 3-4 day journey in Noboribetsu, a renowned hot spring town in Hokkaido, Japan, allows for a deep dive into its natural wonders, cultural experiences, and relaxation opportunities. Here’s a detailed itinerary to make the most of your stay:

Day 1: Exploring Noboribetsu

Morning: Arrival and Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

  • Start your visit with a trip to Jigokudani. This geothermal wonderland, with its steaming sulfuric vents and hot springs, is a natural marvel.
  • Spend about 1-2 hours exploring the walking trails and soaking in the stunning volcanic landscapes.

Afternoon: Noboribetsu Onsen Experience

  • After lunch in one of the local restaurants, spend your afternoon experiencing the famous Noboribetsu Onsen. Choose from various onsen facilities, each offering different mineral compositions and health benefits.
  • Relax and rejuvenate in the therapeutic hot springs.

Evening: Dinner and Stroll

  • Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner, possibly at your ryokan, featuring local specialties.
  • Take a leisurely evening stroll through Noboribetsu Onsen Town, enjoying the ambient lit streets and local shops.

Day 2: Cultural Immersion

Morning: Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura

Afternoon: Lake Kuttara and Ainu Culture

  • Post lunch, visit Lake Kuttara, known for its crystal-clear waters and serene environment.
  • Later, explore the Ainu Museum to learn about the indigenous people of Hokkaido. Engage with their rich culture, history, and crafts.

Evening: Relaxation and Dining

  • Return to Noboribetsu for a relaxed evening.
  • Enjoy another exquisite dining experience in town or at your accommodation.

Day 3: Nature and Adventure

Morning: Shikotsu-Toya National Park

  • Spend your day in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Start with Lake Toya, offering activities like boat tours and scenic walks.
  • Visit the Usuzan Ropeway for panoramic views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes.

Afternoon: More Exploration or Outdoor Activities

  • In the afternoon, continue to explore the national park or partake in outdoor activities like hiking or cycling.
  • Alternatively, visit Noboribetsu Bear Park to observe brown bears in a naturalistic setting.

Evening: Onsen and Leisure

  • After a day full of activities, unwind in another onsen bath.
  • Enjoy a leisurely dinner, possibly trying different local cuisines or a barbecue experience.

Day 4: Nearby Attractions or Leisure Day

Option 1: Day Trip to Nearby Cities

  • If time permits, take a day trip to nearby cities like Sapporo or Otaru. Explore Sapporo’s historical sites, shopping, and dining, or Otaru’s famous canal and glassworks.

Option 2: Leisure and Local Exploration

  • Alternatively, have a leisurely day in Noboribetsu. Visit local attractions you might have missed, like the Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe or engage in more onsen experiences.
  • Spend time exploring local shops and trying out different cafes and eateries.

Evening: Final Night in Noboribetsu

  • Spend your final evening soaking in the relaxing atmosphere of Noboribetsu.
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner, reflecting on the experiences of your trip.

General Tips for Your Trip

  1. Accommodation: Book a comfortable ryokan for a traditional experience, ideally one with onsen facilities.
  2. Transportation: Plan your transportation in advance, whether it’s public transit, rental car, or taxis, especially for day trips.
  3. Clothing: Dress according to the weather; layering is key. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
  4. Respect Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with Japanese customs, especially onsen etiquette.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Keep hydrated, especially after onsen baths and during outdoor activities.
  6. Navigation Tools: Use apps like Google Maps for navigation and public transport schedules.

This itinerary provides a blend of relaxation, cultural immersion, and exploration of the natural beauty of Noboribetsu and its surroundings, ensuring a rich and varied experience over your 3-4 day stay.

Noboribetsu natural steam vents offer magnificent views in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu 1 Week Travel Itinerary

Spending a week in Noboribetsu allows for a comprehensive exploration of its renowned hot springs, stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and the surrounding attractions. Here’s a detailed itinerary for a week-long stay:

Day 1: Arrival and Noboribetsu Onsen Town

Morning: Arrival in Noboribetsu

  • Check into your hotel or ryokan.
  • Take it easy and acclimatize to the surroundings.

Afternoon: Explore Noboribetsu Onsen Town

  • Stroll through the Onsen Town, familiarize yourself with the area.
  • Visit local shops and try some local snacks.

Evening: First Onsen Experience

  • Relax in one of the many onsens in town.
  • Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner at your ryokan or a local restaurant.

Day 2: Jigokudani (Hell Valley) and Surroundings

Morning: Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

  • Explore the volcanic crater with its steam vents and sulfurous streams.
  • Take a walk to the Oyunuma Pond.

Afternoon: River Oyunuma Natural Footbath

  • Dip your feet in the warm waters of the natural footbath.
  • Have lunch in the town, trying out a local specialty.

Evening: Leisure Time

  • Spend a leisurely evening exploring more of the town or enjoying another onsen.

Day 3: Day Trip to Lake Toya

Whole Day: Visit Lake Toya

  • Take a day trip to Lake Toya, about an hour’s drive from Noboribetsu.
  • Enjoy boat tours, visit the local museums, and walk around the lake.
  • Have lunch at a lakeside restaurant.

Evening: Return to Noboribetsu

  • Return to Noboribetsu in the evening.
  • Relax in an onsen and enjoy a quiet dinner.

Day 4: Cultural Exploration in Noboribetsu

Morning: Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura

  • Visit the Edo period theme park for a cultural experience.
  • Enjoy ninja and samurai shows, and try traditional games.

Afternoon: Ainu Museum

  • Learn about the indigenous Ainu culture at the Ainu Museum.
  • Shop for Ainu crafts as souvenirs.

Evening: Onsen and Dinner

  • Another evening to enjoy the onsen.
  • Try a different dining option in Noboribetsu.

Day 5: Adventure in Shikotsu-Toya National Park

Morning and Afternoon: Shikotsu-Toya National Park

  • Spend a day in the national park, exploring its natural beauty.
  • Visit the volcanic sites, enjoy hiking, or participate in other outdoor activities.

Evening: Return and Relax

  • Return to Noboribetsu for a relaxing evening.
  • Enjoy a leisurely meal and perhaps a stroll in the town.

Day 6: Sapporo Day Trip

Whole Day: Explore Sapporo

  • Take a day trip to Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido.
  • Visit the famous Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, and enjoy shopping.
  • Try Sapporo’s famous ramen and fresh seafood.

Evening: Back to Noboribetsu

  • Return to Noboribetsu in the evening.
  • Spend a quiet evening, maybe with a final onsen bath.

Day 7: Leisure and Departure

Morning: Leisure Time

  • Spend your last morning relaxing or picking up any last-minute souvenirs.
  • Enjoy a final stroll through Noboribetsu Onsen Town.

Afternoon: Departure

  • Check out of your hotel or ryokan and prepare for your departure.
  • Reflect on the week’s experiences as you travel to your next destination or back home.

Additional Tips for Your Week in Noboribetsu

  • Accommodation: Consider splitting your stay between a traditional ryokan and a modern hotel for different experiences.
  • Transportation: If planning multiple day trips, consider renting a car for convenience.
  • Local Etiquette: Always be respectful of local customs, especially in onsens and religious sites.
  • Weather Preparedness: Dress appropriately for the season; layers are recommended.
  • Food Exploration: Try different local cuisines each day; Hokkaido is famous for its fresh produce and seafood.
  • Stay Hydrated: Keep yourself hydrated, especially after long onsen baths.
  • Relaxation: Don’t rush; the beauty of Noboribetsu is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace.

This week-long itinerary offers a blend of relaxation, adventure, cultural immersion, and gastronomic delights, ensuring a comprehensive and memorable experience in Noboribetsu and its surroundings.

Shrines And Temples Worth Visiting In Noboribetsu in Hokkaido, Japan

Is Noboribetsu A Safe City To Visit?

Noboribetsu is generally considered a safe city for tourists to visit. Like many destinations in Japan, it benefits from the country’s low crime rate and strong emphasis on public safety. However, as with any travel, it’s important to consider various aspects of safety, from personal security to environmental factors. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Personal Safety

  1. Crime Rate:
    • Japan is known for its low crime rate, and Noboribetsu is no exception. Violent crimes are particularly rare.
    • Petty crimes like pickpocketing are not common, but it’s always wise to take standard precautions with personal belongings.
  2. Safety for Solo Travelers and Women:
  3. Local Laws and Customs:
    • Visitors should respect local laws and customs. Japanese society values order and etiquette.
    • Familiarize yourself with local norms, such as taking off shoes where required, speaking softly in public places, and proper onsen etiquette.

Health and Medical Safety

  1. Healthcare Facilities:
    • Japan boasts high-quality healthcare facilities, and while smaller towns like Noboribetsu may not have large hospitals, medical services are accessible and efficient.
    • For specific health needs or emergencies, larger cities nearby, like Sapporo, have comprehensive medical services.
  2. Pharmacies and Medication:
    • Pharmacies are available for basic medical needs. However, some medications that are over-the-counter in other countries may require a prescription in Japan.
  3. Travel Insurance:
    • It’s advisable to have travel insurance that covers health emergencies.

Giant Toenails Of The Blue Creatures In Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Natural Hazards

  1. Volcanic Activity:
    • Noboribetsu is known for its geothermal activity. While this creates the famous hot springs, it also means the area is volcanically active.
    • Local authorities monitor volcanic activity closely. Follow any guidelines or warnings issued.
  2. Weather:
    • Be prepared for cold weather if visiting in winter, as Hokkaido experiences heavy snowfall.
    • Summer brings warmer temperatures and occasional rainfall.

Emergency Services

  1. Emergency Response:
    • Japan has efficient emergency services. The emergency numbers in Japan are 110 for police and 119 for ambulance and fire.
  2. Language Assistance:
    • While English proficiency in Japan varies, major tourist destinations like Noboribetsu often have staff or guides who speak English.
    • Consider carrying a phrasebook or a translation app for ease of communication.

General Travel Safety Tips

  1. Stay Informed:
    • Keep yourself informed about local news and any travel advisories from your country’s embassy or consulate.
    • Be aware of local emergency announcements, especially related to natural hazards.
  2. Respect Wildlife and Natural Features:
    • When visiting natural parks or reserves, maintain a safe distance from wildlife and adhere to designated paths.
  3. Cultural Sensitivity:
    • Showing respect towards local culture and traditions is not only courteous but also enhances mutual understanding and safety.

In summary, Noboribetsu is a safe city for tourists, characterized by Japan’s overall safe and tourist-friendly environment. However, visitors should exercise the usual travel precautions, respect local customs and stay informed about the natural conditions unique to the region. With these considerations in mind, a visit to Noboribetsu can be both enjoyable and safe.

Noboribetsu offers something different for travelers all times of year - digital at

When Is The Best Time To Visit Noboribetsu?

Choosing the best time to visit Noboribetsu, a renowned hot spring destination in Hokkaido, Japan, depends largely on your interests, what you want to experience, and your tolerance for various weather conditions. Noboribetsu offers different attractions throughout the year, making it a versatile destination. Here’s a detailed look at what to expect in each season:

Spring (March to May)

  • Weather: The weather gradually warms up, with occasional cold snaps early in the season. By May, temperatures are more comfortable.
  • Scenery: Cherry blossoms bloom in late April and early May, offering beautiful sights, especially around Onsen Town and in nearby parks.
  • Crowds: Fewer tourists compared to the peak summer season, making it a good time for a more relaxed visit.
  • Events: Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivals are a highlight.

Summer (June to August)

  • Weather: Warm and humid, with temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F). This is also the rainy season, so expect some wet days.
  • Attractions: Ideal for exploring outdoor attractions like Jigokudani, Oyunuma Pond, and nearby hiking trails in Shikotsu-Toya National Park.
  • Events: Noboribetsu Hell Festival in August, featuring parades and traditional demon dances.
  • Considerations: Being the peak season, expect more tourists and book accommodations in advance.

Autumn (September to November)

  • Weather: Crisp, cool weather with less humidity. Temperatures range from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F).
  • Scenery: The fall foliage in Noboribetsu is spectacular, particularly in October, when the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.
  • Activities: Great for outdoor activities like hiking and photography.
  • Crowds: Fewer tourists than in summer, offering a more peaceful experience.

Winter (December to February)

  • Weather: Cold and snowy, with temperatures often below freezing.
  • Scenery: The landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, covered in snow.
  • Hot Springs: The onsens are particularly enchanting during winter, offering a warm respite from the cold.
  • Activities: Nearby ski resorts offer winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
  • Events: Winter illuminations in Noboribetsu Onsen Town create a magical atmosphere.
  • Considerations: Dress warmly and be prepared for snowy conditions.

General Tips for Visiting Noboribetsu

  • Peak vs Off-Peak: Summer and winter tend to be peak tourist seasons, due to outdoor activities and the appeal of onsens in winter. Spring and autumn are less crowded.
  • Travel and Accommodation: Book your travel and accommodation well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak seasons or local festivals.
  • Health Considerations: If you’re not accustomed to extreme cold, winter visits require extra preparation.
  • Cultural Events: Check the local calendar for festivals and events, as they can offer unique cultural experiences.

In summary, the best time to visit Noboribetsu depends on what you want to experience. For outdoor activities and festivals, summer is ideal. For cherry blossoms and mild weather, choose spring. Autumn offers stunning fall colors and comfortable temperatures, while winter provides a snowy landscape and cozy hot spring experiences. Each season has its charm, making Noboribetsu a year-round destination.

Noboribetsu steam vent in the town coming from a tunnel in Hokkaido, Japan

Top Festivals and Events in Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu, a renowned hot spring destination in Hokkaido, Japan, hosts various festivals and events throughout the year that reflect the rich culture and traditions of the region. Here’s a detailed look at some of the top festivals and events in Noboribetsu:

Noboribetsu Hell Festival (Jigoku Matsuri)

  • When: Typically held in August.
  • Highlights: This unique festival celebrates the area’s famous hot springs, known as “hells” (jigoku) due to their boiling water and steam. The event features a parade with participants dressed as “demons” or “oni,” reflecting local folklore. The demons, usually seen as guardians of the hot springs, are celebrated through various performances, including traditional dances and drumming.
  • Activities: Visitors can enjoy street performances, local food stalls, and special events in the onsen town. The festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks display.

Noboribetsu Hot Spring Festival

  • When: Held in June.
  • Overview: This festival celebrates the hot spring culture of Noboribetsu. It’s an opportunity for visitors to learn about the significance of onsens in Japanese culture.
  • Features: The festival includes open-air hot spring baths for public enjoyment, traditional music and dance performances, and various cultural demonstrations.

Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami)

  • When: Late April to early May.
  • Description: The cherry blossom season is a significant and much-celebrated event across Japan, and Noboribetsu is no exception. The town and surrounding areas become adorned with the delicate pink blossoms, offering breathtaking scenery.
  • Activities: Visitors can participate in hanami, the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossoms. This often involves picnics under the cherry trees and leisurely strolls through blossom-filled parks.

Autumn Leaves Festival

  • When: October.
  • Highlights: As the leaves change color, Noboribetsu offers some of the most stunning autumn scenery in Hokkaido. The Autumn Leaves Festival celebrates this change with various events.
  • Activities: Enjoy the spectacular colors in areas like Jigokudani and around Lake Kuttara. The festival often includes local food stalls, cultural performances, and guided walks to the best viewing spots.

Noboribetsu Winter Illumination

  • When: December to February.
  • Overview: The winter season in Noboribetsu is marked by beautiful illuminations that light up the snowy landscape.
  • Experience: The illuminations create a magical atmosphere, especially in the onsen town, with lights reflecting off the steam from the hot springs. It’s a perfect backdrop for evening strolls.

Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri)

  • When: Coincides with the Sapporo Snow Festival, usually in February.
  • Activities: Though the main event is in Sapporo, Noboribetsu often participates with its own snow and ice sculptures, smaller in scale but equally impressive. It’s an excellent opportunity for visitors to enjoy winter activities and snow art.

Onsen Tengoku (Hot Spring Heaven) Event

  • When: Various times throughout the year.
  • Details: This event focuses on promoting the hot springs of Noboribetsu. Onsen Tengoku features special openings of various bathhouses, discounts, and unique bathing experiences.

Local Food Festivals

  • When: Various times, especially summer and autumn.
  • Description: These festivals showcase the local cuisine of Noboribetsu and Hokkaido. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, dairy products, and other regional specialties.

Conclusion

These festivals and events offer a glimpse into the cultural richness of Noboribetsu. They provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to engage with local traditions, enjoy seasonal beauty, and experience the communal spirit of the region. Whether it’s the vibrant Hell Festival or the serene beauty of cherry blossoms, each event adds a unique flavor to the travel experience in Noboribetsu.

Locally produced ice cream and honey in the shopping district area of Noboribetsu in Hokkaido, Japan

Noboribetsu Shopping Guide and Souvenir List

Shopping in Noboribetsu, a popular hot spring town in Hokkaido, Japan, offers visitors the chance to purchase unique souvenirs and gifts that reflect the area’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Here’s a comprehensive guide to shopping in Noboribetsu, including a list of souvenirs to look out for:

Where to Shop in Noboribetsu

  1. Noboribetsu Onsen Town
    • The main area for shopping, lined with shops selling a variety of goods.
    • You’ll find everything from traditional crafts to local snacks.
  2. Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
    • A cultural theme park that also offers a range of unique souvenirs related to the Edo period.
    • Ideal for finding something distinctive and culturally significant.
  3. Local Markets and Shops
    • Explore local markets for fresh produce and regional specialties.
    • Small shops and boutiques often sell handmade crafts and artisanal goods.

Souvenir List

  1. Onsen-Related Products
    • Bath salts and onsen minerals for recreating the hot spring experience at home.
    • Onsen-themed towels, robes, and wooden clogs (geta) are also popular.
  2. Hokkaido Specialties
    • Dairy products like cheese and butter, as Hokkaido is famous for its dairy farms.
    • Yubari melon and other fresh fruits (or fruit-based products) are a must-try.
  3. Seafood Products
    • Dried seafood snacks such as squid and fish.
    • Kaisendon sauce to recreate Hokkaido’s famous seafood rice bowl.
  4. Ainu Crafts
    • Traditional Ainu handcrafted items like wood carvings, fabric, and beadwork.
    • These items are not only beautiful but also hold cultural significance.
  5. Japanese Sweets
    • Hokkaido is known for its delicious sweets, including Shiroi Koibito cookies and Royce’ chocolate.
    • Local confectioneries and bakeries offer a variety of unique treats.
  6. Sake and Whisky
    • Hokkaido’s local sake and whisky are renowned for their quality.
    • Consider purchasing a bottle as a sophisticated souvenir or gift.
  7. Ceramics and Pottery
    • Look for locally made ceramics and pottery, which often reflect the natural beauty of Hokkaido.
    • Teacups, plates, and decorative items are popular choices.
  8. Japanese Green Tea
    • High-quality green tea makes for a light and easy-to-transport souvenir.
    • Some specialty shops may offer regional varieties.
  9. Edo Period Replicas and Memorabilia
    • At Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, you can find unique items that replicate the Edo period, such as samurai swords (replicas), armor, and traditional clothing.
  10. Lavender Products
  • Lavender is widely grown in Hokkaido, and products like lavender oil, soap, and sachets are delightful souvenirs.

Shopping Tips

  • Bargaining: Bargaining is not customary in Japan, and prices are usually fixed.
  • Tax-Free Shopping: Look for tax-free shops if you are a foreign tourist; you can save the consumption tax on your purchases.
  • Packaging: Japanese shops often offer exquisite packaging, making items purchased ideal for gifts.
  • Seasonality: Some products, especially food items, are seasonal. Check for the best time to buy certain items.
  • Local Markets: For the freshest produce and local specialties, visit markets early in the day.

Shopping in Noboribetsu offers a delightful experience, blending traditional culture with the region’s natural bounty. Whether you’re looking for personal keepsakes or gifts for loved ones, the variety and quality of products available ensure that you’ll find something special to remember your trip by.

Otaru vintage scene in this vintage postcard is a destination worthy visiting after your time in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan - digital art

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Noboribetsu?

After exploring the thermal wonders of Noboribetsu, Hokkaido offers a plethora of other captivating destinations that you can consider for your next adventure. Each location offers its unique blend of natural beauty, culture, and experiences. Here’s a detailed guide on where to visit after your trip to Noboribetsu:

Sapporo

  • Overview: As Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo is a vibrant city known for its beer, ramen, and the annual Snow Festival.
  • Attractions: Explore the historic Sapporo Clock Tower, the beautiful Odori Park, and the Sapporo Beer Museum. Don’t miss the Sapporo TV Tower and the bustling Susukino district for dining and entertainment.
  • Accessibility: Just a couple of hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Otaru

  • Overview: A charming port city famous for its beautifully preserved canal area and historic buildings.
  • Highlights: Visit the Otaru Canal, Sakaimachi Street for shopping and dining, and the Otaru Music Box Museum. Seafood lovers should not miss the fresh sushi here.
  • Travel: About 2.5 hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Hakodate

  • Overview: Known for its spectacular night views from Mount Hakodate and its unique blend of Japanese and Western historical architecture.
  • Must-See: The Goryokaku Fort, Hakodate Morning Market, and the historical Motomachi district.
  • Getting There: Around 3 hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Niseko

  • Overview: A world-renowned skiing destination, famous for its powder snow.
  • Activities: Apart from winter sports, Niseko is great for hiking, hot springs, and golf during the warmer months.
  • Location: Approximately 2 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Asahikawa

  • Overview: Known for the Asahiyama Zoo and its unique animal enclosures, Asahikawa is Hokkaido’s second-largest city.
  • Other Attractions: Visit the Snow Crystal Museum and the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum.
  • Travel: Around 3.5 hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Furano and Biei

  • Overview: These towns are famous for their picturesque rural landscapes, especially during the lavender blooming season in summer.
  • Explore: Visit flower fields, enjoy the scenic beauty, and explore local farms.
  • Distance: About 3 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Shiretoko Peninsula

  • Overview: A UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its untouched wilderness, wildlife, and the Shiretoko Five Lakes.
  • Activities: Wildlife watching, hiking, and in winter, drift ice walks.
  • Note: Best accessed by car; it’s a longer trip, suitable for those who have more time.

Lake Toya

  • Overview: Close to Noboribetsu and perfect for a more relaxed experience. Known for its caldera lake, hot springs, and the Usuzan Ropeway.
  • Leisure: Enjoy boat cruises on the lake, visit the Toyako Volcano Science Museum, and relax in local onsens.
  • Proximity: About an hour’s drive from Noboribetsu.

Kushiro

  • Overview: Known for the Kushiro Marshlands, home to unique wildlife including the Japanese crane.
  • Explore: Visit the Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf MOO for fresh seafood and local crafts.
  • Accessibility: About 4 hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Lake Akan

  • Overview: Part of the Akan Mashu National Park, known for its clear lakes and marimo (rare algae balls).
  • Activities: Enjoy boat tours on Lake Akan, visit the Ainu Kotan to learn about the indigenous Ainu culture, and explore the surrounding volcanic landscapes.
  • Travel: It’s about a 4-hour drive from Noboribetsu, ideal for travelers seeking nature and cultural experiences.

Lake Shikotsu

  • Overview: A caldera lake known for its crystal-clear water and beautiful, serene surroundings.
  • Highlights: Enjoy kayaking or canoeing on the lake, relax in the lakeside hot springs, and hike the trails around the lake.
  • Location: Relatively close to Noboribetsu, about a 1.5-hour drive, making it an easy next stop.

Daisetsuzan National Park

  • Overview: The largest national park in Japan, offering rugged mountains, pristine forests, and abundant wildlife.
  • Activities: Ideal for hiking, bird watching, and nature photography. In winter, it’s a great place for skiing and snowboarding.
  • Access: The park is expansive, so the travel time varies depending on which part you visit. Asahikawa, located about 3.5 hours from Noboribetsu, is a good gateway to the park.

Rishiri and Rebun Islands

  • Overview: Located off the northern coast of Hokkaido, these islands are known for their wildflowers, hiking trails, and seafood.
  • Experience: Hike up Mount Rishiri, enjoy the scenic views on Rebun Island, and savor fresh sea urchin and kelp.
  • Getting There: These remote islands are best accessed by ferry from Wakkanai, which is quite a journey from Noboribetsu but offers a unique and tranquil experience.

Yoichi

  • Overview: A small town known for its whisky distillery and fruit orchards.
  • Must-Visit: The Nikka Whisky Distillery offers tours and tastings. Also, explore the fruit orchards and try the local jams and fruit wines.
  • Travel: About a 2-hour drive from Noboribetsu, Yoichi makes for a pleasant day trip or a stopover en route to Otaru or Sapporo.

Tomamu

  • Overview: A resort area offering a range of activities both in summer and winter.
  • Highlights: Skiing and snowboarding in winter, and in summer, visit the Unkai Terrace for a chance to see the ‘sea of clouds’. The resort also features an indoor wave pool and an ice village in winter.
  • Distance: Approximately 2 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Wakkanai

  • Overview: The northernmost city in Japan, offering a unique blend of Russian and Japanese cultures.
  • Attractions: Visit Cape Soya, the northernmost point of Japan, and explore the beautiful Soya Hills. The city is also a gateway to Rishiri and Rebun Islands.
  • Travel Time: It’s a longer trip from Noboribetsu but offers a different perspective of Hokkaido.

Abashiri

  • Overview: Known for its drift ice (ryuhyo) phenomena in winter and the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum.
  • Activities: Take a drift ice sightseeing cruise (available in winter), visit the Abashiri Prison Museum, and explore the beautiful Lake Abashiri.
  • Travel: It’s about a 5-hour drive or train ride from Noboribetsu, ideal for those interested in unique natural phenomena and history.

Shikabe

  • Overview: A small town known for its geothermal activity and seafood.
  • Highlights: Visit the Shikabe Geyser Park, one of the few natural geysers in Japan, and enjoy the local onsen. The town is also famous for its kelp, which is used in various local dishes.
  • Distance: Approximately 3 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Teshikaga

  • Overview: Home to the beautiful Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo, known for their crystal-clear waters and scenic beauty.
  • Activities: Enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Mashu, relax in the hot spring baths by Lake Kussharo, and visit the Kawayu Onsen.
  • Travel Time: Around 4 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Shimokawa

  • Overview: A lesser-known destination offering a serene escape into nature.
  • Experience: Ideal for ecotourism, with opportunities for forest walks, wildlife watching, and experiencing sustainable practices in forestry.
  • Location: Approximately 4 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Esashi

  • Overview: A historic town known for its preserved district from the Edo period and the Ubagami Daijingu Shrine.
  • Highlights: Explore the old merchant houses and enjoy the Esashi Oiwake music, a traditional style of Japanese folk music.
  • Distance: Around 4 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Kawayu Onsen

  • Overview: A hot spring town located near the eastern part of Hokkaido, known for its acidic sulfuric waters.
  • Attractions: Visit the Kawayu Eco Museum Center and the nearby Mount Io, an active volcano. The onsen experience here is unique due to the water quality.
  • Travel Time: Approximately 4 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Kushiro City and Kushiro Shitsugen National Park

  • Overview: Known for the Kushiro Marshland, Japan’s largest wetland and home to unique wildlife, including the Japanese crane.
  • Explore: Enjoy canoeing in the marshland, visit the Kushiro City Zoo, and explore the Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf for fresh seafood.
  • Accessibility: About 4 hours by train from Noboribetsu.

Tokachi

  • Overview: A region known for its agriculture, hot springs, and the Tokachi Millennium Forest.
  • Activities: Ideal for foodies interested in farm-to-table dining experiences, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking wellness retreats in nature.
  • Location: About 3-4 hours by car from Noboribetsu.

Each of these destinations offers a unique glimpse into the diverse landscape and culture of Hokkaido. Whether you’re looking for urban exploration, natural beauty, or outdoor adventures, Hokkaido’s rich tapestry of destinations ensures that your journey doesn’t end with Noboribetsu. Depending on your interests and the time of year, you can choose the next stop on your travel itinerary to continue exploring the captivating island of Hokkaido.

Noboribetsu offers travels ryokan experiences that allow you to experience traditional Japanese culture - digital art

Noboribetsu Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

As you conclude your journey through Noboribetsu, it’s worth reflecting on the unique experiences this remarkable destination in Hokkaido, Japan, offers. This final overview encapsulates the essence of Noboribetsu, providing insights and tips for those planning to visit or reminiscing about their trip.

The Essence of Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu, primarily known for its exceptional hot springs (onsen), is a microcosm of Japan’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and serene hospitality. The town, cradled in a landscape carved by volcanic activity, offers visitors not just a chance to relax in therapeutic waters, but also to engage with the natural and cultural tapestry of Japan.

Experiences Not to Miss

  1. Jigokudani (Hell Valley): The steaming vents and sulfurous streams are a sight to behold and a reminder of the earth’s potent natural forces.
  2. Onsen Experience: From public bathhouses to luxurious private onsens, the bathing experience in Noboribetsu is diverse and deeply ingrained in the local culture.
  3. Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura: A cultural theme park that offers a glimpse into Japan’s samurai and ninja past, ideal for families and history enthusiasts.
  4. Local Cuisine: Savor the freshness of Hokkaido’s seafood, dairy products, and seasonal produce. Each meal here is a testament to the region’s culinary prowess.
  5. Seasonal Beauty: Whether it’s the cherry blossoms of spring, the lush greenery of summer, the vivid hues of autumn, or the snowy landscape of winter, each season brings its unique charm.

Travel Tips

  1. Accommodation: Book in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak seasons or local festivals.
  2. Transportation: While public transport is available, renting a car can offer more flexibility, especially for exploring surrounding areas.
  3. Cultural Etiquette: Respect local customs, particularly when visiting onsens. Understanding and adhering to onsen etiquette is crucial.
  4. Language Barrier: While English is spoken in many tourist areas, carrying a phrasebook or translation app can be helpful.
  5. Weather Preparedness: Pack according to the season. Winters can be cold and snowy, while summers are mild but can be rainy.

Sustainability and Respect

As with any travel destination, it’s important to approach Noboribetsu with a mindset of sustainability and respect for the environment and local culture. This includes being mindful of waste disposal, conserving water (especially in onsens), and respecting wildlife and natural habitats.

A Destination for All

Noboribetsu is a destination that appeals to a wide range of travelers – from solo adventurers seeking tranquility, to families looking for a culturally rich holiday, and couples in search of a romantic getaway. The town’s ability to blend the allure of hot springs with the charm of its natural and cultural surroundings makes it a uniquely rewarding destination.

As you reflect on or plan your journey to Noboribetsu, consider the broader experience beyond just the hot springs. Engage with the local culture, taste the regional cuisine, and immerse yourself in the stunning natural landscapes. Noboribetsu is more than just a travel destination; it’s a gateway to understanding the harmonious relationship between nature, culture, and wellbeing that is deeply rooted in Japanese tradition. Whether you’re soaking in an onsen, exploring historical sites, or enjoying the local cuisine, Noboribetsu offers a journey that resonates with serenity, beauty, and a deep sense of welcome.

Noboribetsu is an onsen town in Japan offering postcard picture perfect views - digital art

“Noboribetsu’s Embrace: A Journey’s Tale”

In Hokkaido’s heart, where nature’s art does blend, Lies Noboribetsu, a traveler’s cherished friend. A land of geysers, steam, and spirits untold, Where legends and hot springs intertwine, stories unfold.

Beneath the cherry blossoms in spring’s sweet embrace, Noboribetsu whispers tales of time and space. In summer’s green embrace, the mountains sigh, As butterflies dance under the clear blue sky.

When autumn’s brush paints leaves in hues so bright, Noboribetsu shimmers in the golden light. And winter’s snowy blanket, pure and serene, Blankets the town in a tranquil, silent scene.

Jigokudani, a valley of fire and steam, In the heart of this land, a place like in a dream. Where onsen waters, soothing and pure, Bathe weary souls, a cure that’ll endure.

From samurai’s grace to ninja’s stealthy pace, At Date Jidaimura, history finds its place. And cuisine, a feast of ocean’s bounty and more, Awakens the senses, a culinary galore.

So come, O traveler, to Noboribetsu’s grace, A land where memories and dreams interlace. In every hot spring, every bloom, and every sight, Find the essence of Hokkaido’s tranquil light.

Noboribetsu’s embrace, a journey’s tale to be, In this land of wonders, find your heart set free. For in the midst of nature’s beauty, calm, and thrill, Noboribetsu beckons, a destination that fulfills.

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