Hokkaido's most famous onsen and one of Japan's best, Noboribetsu's sulfur-laden waters are hot, smelly, and wonderful. There are a host of high-end options, but don't miss the wonderful public bath. A bargain at only 350 yen, this windowless yet wonderful onsen is a great alternative to the pricier options nearby. It's simplicity is its greatest charm, though be warned -- it can get busy, especially in the evening hours.
Noboribetsu is a cluster of onsen hotels, some of them large, with bus tours and the accompanying souvenir shops. There's no denying that the water here is wonderful, and the expansive collection of baths in the DaiIchiTakimotokan Hotel are hard to beat (there's even a swimming pool!) for luxury, but the town lacks the intimacy of some other Hokkaidou spots -- surprising, since it's quite small. If price is at all an issue, ask for a sudomari (no meals) option at a ryokan or minshuku, and then do higaeri to the various baths. Noboribetsu is reachable from Sapporo either by direct bus or by train (get off at Noboribetsu Station) and then take a city bus another 15 minutes to the onsen proper. If onsen-dipping tires, check out the volcano itself -- look for the walking trail uphill from the DaiIchiTakimotokan, where you can meander among the jigoku (hells) and sniff the sulfurous fumes.
Recommend an Onsen!
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