While Hakone and Atami are famous for hot springs in Japan, actually Hokkaido also has plenty. Hokkaido has plenty of nature, so why not let yourself be healed from the rigors of daily life by relaxing in one of the onsen (hot springs) there? Here are 5 onsen you should stop by if you're in Hokkaido.
Noboribetsu Onsen is one of Japan's leading onsen that have been loved by Japanese people since ancient times. It's also called "the department store of hot springs," because 9 different kinds of natural springs well up here including sulfur springs which are good for chronic bronchitis and arteriosclerosis, chloride springs, and alum springs. It's very popular as a sightseeing area so it's full of onsen inns and hotels. Since this area benefits from Hokkaido's nature while having lots of impressive sightseeing areas, head out to see some sights after soaking in the springs! There's Jigokudani where volcanic gas and water vapor rise up from the ground as well as Oyunuma, a huge hot water spring that's 1km around. If you still have time after the sun goes down, you can enjoy taking a walk down the wondrous path called Onibi no Michi ("the path of the will-o'-the-wisps") that stretches from the entrance of Jigokudani to Tessenike.
1. Noboribetsu Onsen
Tokachigawa Onsen, in the suburbs of Obihiro, is home to the very rare Moor Onsen which wells up through a layer of vegetation deposit. It's not a regular mineral onsen but carries a lot of the organic matter from the vegetation, so it's said to be very good for nerve and muscle pain. Since it also has lots of moisturizing activities, it's also called the "bihada no yu" ("the spring of beautiful skin") because it leaves your skin smooth. Most hotels and ryokan inns have day trip plans where you can use the onsen for around 1,000 JPY even if you're not staying there, so please enjoy this spring! Nearby there's Tokachigaoka Park and the Tokachigaoka Scenic Viewpoint, both sightseeing areas where you can enjoy nature. Also, at the Tokachi Nature Center, you can enjoy a hot-air balloon ride in the morning or canoe down the Tokachi River among other activities, so definitely check it out!
2. Tokachigawa Onsen
Akanko Onsen, on the south bank of Akan Lake, is one of Hokkaido's foremost hot springs. This onsen includes a simple thermal hot spring and a hydrogen sulfide spring so it's good for nerve pain, sensitivity to cold, and exhaustion. This is the onsen to go to if you want to get rid of your tiredness from traveling! There are many lodging facilities available including hotels and inns, and the ones where you can gaze on the huge Akan Lake are popular. There are a variety of onsen where you can enjoy hand and foot baths as well. There is a pleasure boat where you can take a slow cruise of 85 minutes on the Akan Lake nearby. Halfway through the course you stop at the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center where you can see the specially protected species marimo (round freshwater moss balls) and enjoy the beautiful sights around Akan Lake! You can also climb the famous Meakandake and Oakandake, so this is a great place for people who want to experience Hokkaido's nature first-hand.
3. Akanko Onsen
Kawayu Onsen, in Kamikawa, is an onsen that has been beloved by locals since ancient times. There is an onsen river, rare for Japan, and there are around 20 establishments including inns, hotels, and restaurants lining it to make an onsen resort. Since the onsen runs through the town there is a lot of water vapor and you'll feel excited by the onsen atmosphere! The onsen, which wells up 100% from the source, has sulfur and acidic alum in it. It's so strong that a nail will melt in its waters in just 2 weeks, so when you get in the water make sure you have no metal on you. It may get in your eyes or in any wounds so please be careful. It has high antibacterial properties, so it's good for rheumatism, diabetes, and skin problems. Also, a ten minute walk from Kawayu Onsen is Kawayu Park Bokujo, a farm where beginners can experience riding horses and even trekking on horseback. Make sure to visit there too!
4. Kawayu Onsen
Jouzankei Onsen is visited by many people all year round. The spring wells upriver of the Toyohira River, and the onsen resort has popped up along the riverside. It's a popular onsen since it's accessible by a 60 minute bus ride from the center of Sapporo. If you come here, you should definitely enjoy taking photos on the Jouzankei Walking path and Futami Tsuribashi suspension bridge! There are many lodging facilities so it's a great place for people who want to leisurely enjoy an onsen stay. For people who have a schedule packed full of sightseeing plans, you can enjoy this onsen as a day trip. This spring has sodium chloride, so it prevents your sweat from evaporating so your whole body can be warm from the inside out.
There are many onsen in Hokkaido so it's actually one of Japan's leading onsen areas. Depending on the area the water quality and effects are different, so there's many ways to enjoy it. Please find your perfect onsen that goes with your travel itinerary!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.