The waters of life
Noboribetsu is Hokkaido's most famous spa town, and its naturally occurring hot springs rank among Japan's best, making the vibrant town a popular health retreat.
- Hell Valley volcanic area
- Meet the demons around town
- See samurai and ninja in action
How to Get There
The town center of Noboribetsu is located close to the coast, with the hot spring town and Hell Valley a short 15-minute bus ride further inland.
Many buses to run to Noboribetsu from Sapporo, often in association with local hotels.
The express train from Sapporo takes 90 minutes, and the local train takes two hours. After you've seen the town, you can get a bus transfer over the hill to the hot-spring area.
The coastal town of Noboribetsu, in Hokkaido's southwest, lies in a temperate zone between the coast and Shikotsu-Toya National Park to the north. The whole area is volcanic, with Noboribetsu the most active point. Located just to the northeast of this volcanic hotbed is the quaint town of Shiraoi, with its famous beef and Ainu museum. To the southwest is the scenic port city of Muroran.
Hot springs and the gates of hell
For over 150 years, people from all over Japan have flocked to soak in the natural hot springs of Noboribetsu. The infamous Jigoku-dani, or Hell Valley, is especially popular, as waters from deep below the earth gush to the surface here in spectacular fashion. In keeping with the Hell theme, many colorful demon sculptures can be seen around the town.
Noboribetsu Hell Festival
Towards the end of August, the hot-spring area of Noboribetsu plays host to one of Hokkaido's most famous local festivals. The "Hell Festival” sees the main street of the town lined with lanterns and food stalls, while costume and float parades make their way around town. It's an excellent opportunity to dress up and have some fun, as onlookers are often invited to join in the dance procession.
A volcanic garden of Eden
The natural warmth radiating from underneath the town has created a sanctuary of sorts for a forest of warmer weather trees and plants which cannot be found on other parts of the island. This Primeval Forest is a treat to wander through, while warm flowing streams are perfect for soaking your tired feet. Many animals and birds can be seen and heard in this serene natural retreat.
Travel back in time
Date-Jidaimura is a historical theme park based on the culture of the Edo period (1603-1867). This popular tourist destination is comprised of approximately 100 buildings, including a number of variety stores and restaurants. The theme park features a number of exciting and dramatic showcases including traditional dances, as well as exciting ninja and samurai reenactments. It's a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in old Japan and feel as if you've been warped to another era.
A number of traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients can be found at the many hotels in the area. A great way to fully immerse yourself in the local cuisine experience is to wear a yukata robe provided by your hotel. Thanks to the areas close proximity to the ocean, the seafood is always fresh, and the surf clams from nearby Tomakomai are a definite highlight. For meat lovers, beef from nearby Shiraoi is not to be missed. Lovers of all things spicy are in luck, as the town is known for its super hot jigoku hell ramen.
See the sea by the sea
For marine wildlife lovers, check out the small marine park near the center of Shiraoi Town. The park features dolphin and seal shows, as well as a penguin parade. You can see and interact with many of the 400 varieties of animals in the park. And be sure not to miss the 10,000 sparkling sardines that make up the Milky Way pool.