In this article I’ll be taking you through a little walk through the streets of the Noboribetsu area in Hokkaido. Noboribetsu is famously known for its hot springs and is the other Onsen hot spot of Japan along with Hakone.
The hot springs here originate from an explosion crater in the area called “Jigokudani”, which literally translates to Hell Valley, and was believed to have been plagued by Japanese demons. I’ll also be introducing some nice little photo spots in the area! Ready or not, here we go!
First of all, it’s important for anyone who’s interested in going to Noboribetsu to know that it is situated slightly awkwardly. It’s not very close to any big or major city in Hokkaido and will take about 2 hours from Sapporo and 3 hours or more from Hakodate!
Thankfully, there are more frequent trains that goes to Noboribetsu from big cities such as Sapporo and Hakodate so even if you do miss one train it’s not the end of the world, but it’s still better to have your route planned out before departure and stick to that route to avoid unnecessary dawdling in the train stations.
And at long last, we arrived! The station itself was quite small despite being quite a well known location, but for anyone who has ever been to Hokkaido will know, any train station that aren’t Sapporo or Hakodate tend to generally be smaller if not tiny.
However that doesn’t mean that they are any less in having their own unique flair. Just at the entrance of the Noboribetsu station, for example, there is a great, big brown stuffed bear standing tall and menacingly by the door to welcome unknowing and unguarded visitors.
Apparently Noboribetsu is also famous for bears (?) and has its very own bear farm (whatever that could possibly mean) that unfortunately we didn’t get to visit as we were only there for half a day before we had to leave and head back to Sapporo. I did get to ride on the bear statue beside the stuffed one and take a memorable picture there. The bear farm has also made my bucket list of things to revisit when I get to go back to Hokkaido.
The other thing that Noboribetsu is famous for is an explosion crater in the area called “Jigokudani”, which literally translates to the Valley of Hell.
Now despite having such a formidable name, the area itself is actually quite peaceful and full of greenery and vegetation, but because of its name the place is also plagued with giant statues of Japanese ogres, or Oni, with great big spiked bats that were thought to be these demons’ signature weapon.
These demons are the classic images of devils in Japan and were thought to have supposedly crawled out from the cracks of the crater that lead to Hell. You can spot many of these statues on your way up to the actual valley where the crater spews out boiling hot springs that flows into the hundreds of hotels and ryokans in the area.
For some reason they always tend to be either red or blue, baring a set of hideous fangs, impressively ripped, and are accustomed to wearing tiger print kilts around their privates.
Not to say that I disrespect these ogres in anyway. Their dress code may be questionable, but their choice of weaponry would most certainly pack more than a few punches. I became particularly fond of one specific, lonely bat standing beside the main street leading up to the valley. If only I’d been strong enough to actually lift it, it would have made SUCH a nice souvenir to hang on my wall back home~ XD
Once you look past the demonic embellishments, you’ll find that this place is filled with small, cute wonders as well. All along the roads there are tiny little statues of animals such as sheep, horses, foxes and, of course, bears that very much resemble a stuffed version a child would carry around. Not only are they adorable, they also serve a sitting spot for anyone who needs a little break.
And that concludes our day in Noboribetsu! Stay tuned for my next destination.
Blog by Annie