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  • Writer's picturePhillip Radcliffe

Hot Springs in Hokkaido

(Japanese translation below)

By Saki Ota

Hot springs are one of the symbols of Japanese culture. It has a variety of positive effects, such as warming you to the bone and giving you smooth skin. Also, types of the water vary among different facilities in different areas. If you take an outdoor hot spring bath, you can enjoy the outside scenery while soaking yourself in the warm water.

Hokkaido is famous for its hot springs and the diversity of the types of hot spring baths that are available, ranging from huge hot spring installation among modern buildings to outdoor hot spring baths in mountain. The most famous hot spring areas in Hokkaido are Jozankei, Noribetsu, Yunokawa, and Lake Toya.

First, Jozankei is located a convenient 40-minute drive from Sapporo. Hot spring waters gushing out in the Jozankei spa resort area contains sodium chloride, which is colorless and transparent, and a mild amount of salt. It is one of the most common springs in Japan. When you soak in it, you will find your body becomes warm from the inside. That is because the salt content sticks to your body preventing the sweat from evaporating. Jozankei Hot Springs is located where three rivers, the Usubetsu, Shiroi and Otarunai Rivers flow into the main stream of the Toyohiora River.

Second, Noboribetsu Hot Spring is a famous spa resort area which is located north of Muroran. Noboribetsu Spa is well-known to visitors of Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley). There are around 14 hotels in Noboribetsu. Soak in a bath while listening to the gushing sound of waterfalls. There is a fragrant Japanese cypress bath and a rock bath with an air of nature. Shampoo and body soap are provided at the bathhouse. In addition, clean mountain water is provided at the facility, too, and bathers can drink the clean mountain water. It is effective for chronic digestive diseases, chronic constipation, diabetes, gout and liver diseases.

The mineral-rich water of the area that bubbles up from the ground is renowned for its healing properties. Milky-white sulfur-infused water soften and refresh the skin. Other salt-rich and metal-rich pools have different health benefits, which are often proudly listed in the bathing area of each hotel. Spending a day in the bath can be not only relaxing, but also revitalizing.

Third, Toya Hot Spring is surrounded by mountains and lakes. You can find Lake Toya Hot Spring in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. It has a street lined with Japanese style Inns and rows of souvenir shops and is one of Hokkaido’s most popular hot spring towns, with crowds of people flocking to the area. You can see the spectacular lake scenery as you soak in the hot springs, and you’ll never tire of the beautiful sight of the lights from the lakeside reflected on the lake at night. Lake Toya, the largest caldera lake in Japan, spreads out in front of the hotels along the shore.

Lake Toya Hot Spring is also famous for its unique lakeshore fireworks displays each evening from spring to fall. This nightly 30-minute show of about 450 fireworks creates a fantastic display for all around the area to share. You can take a night cruise to see fireworks from the lake, rent yukata and make the most of a delightful Japanese summer evening. Lake Toya is regarded as one of Hokkaido’s three great scenic areas for its beautiful lake views that change from morning to evening.

Finally, the Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden located in the Yunokawa Hot Spring area is home to some 100 free-rage Japanese macaques. Although the monkeys can be seen enjoying themselves all year round, they are a particular draw for visitors in the colder months, when they can be seen taking a leisurely dip in the hot springs. The monkeys warm themselves in a pool of steaming mineral water from early December through the beginning of May.


太田 沙希









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