Noboribetsu is an unmissable town on any Hokkaido itinerary, given that it is Hokkaido’s premier onsen town. If you’re on a road trip, Noboribetsu is also strategically located in between Sapporo and Hakodate, so you can break that vast distance with Noboribetsu.
A quiet and easygoing town is livened up and sold as a place to experience Hell (complete with devil statues!), with the Hell Valley or Jigokudani (地獄谷) being Noboribetsu’s premier attraction.
Of course, the reality of the place couldn’t be further from the image it tries to sell.
It being an onsen town means you’ll most likely be here to enjoy the hot springs, and there are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from.
What to See
Jigokudani / Hell Valley (地獄谷)
One of Hokkaido’s must-see attractions, you’ll know you’re here as the pungent smell of sulphur permeates the air.
Located in a nature park, wonderfully, the entire place doesn’t come with an admission ticket.
As you walk down the wooden walkway into the valley, the smell of sulphur and sight of smoke rising several feet in the air will make you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else.
Created by the eruption of Mt. Hiyoriyama , you can even feel the heat coming from the water and ground.
After all, it is the largest hot spring source in Noboribetsu Onsen, and generates 10, 000 tons of naturally flowing hot water into the town.
Accessed by walking trails from Jigokudani, Oyunuma Pond will not be as crowded as Jigokudani, especially if you’re visiting in peak season.
The hike from Jigokudani isn’t terribly difficult, but if you stop for photographs along the way, it might take a while till you actually arrive at Oyunuma Pond— which is famed for being able to see billowing circles of smoke rising in the air from the surface of the water body.
This is particularly because you will only be able to see small streams at Jigokudani, and not a large body of water.
River Oyunuma Footbath
From Oyunuma Pond, continue walking along the road to eventually reach the footbaths of River Oyunuma.
A popular activity for many to do is to kick their shoes and sandals off and enjoy the hot spring in it’s natural settings in the middle of a forest.
The depth of the water isn’t deep here too, as you’ll see some wading through the water.
After running through the stream, the water by this point isn’t too hot to enjoy, and you’ll see many indulging in the opportunity to do so.
Gokuraku Shopping Street
Noboribetsu being a sleepy town with not much else beyond the admittedly spectacular hot spring sights means the main artery of Gokuraku Shopping Street isn’t exactly Shibuya levels of exciting.
This might be a place to grab some lunch, but many of the restaurants here are honestly underwhelming, thus I’d personally recommend taking a short drive away from the hotels near Jigokudani and Gokuraku Shopping Street and head to a yakitori joint by the name of やきとり一平 登別店 which you’ll be able to find on Google Maps.
Noboribetsu, in Conclusion
While a must-see in Hokkaido, I wouldn’t recommend more than a night in Noboribetsu itself as there isn’t much to see and do besides the above.
Thankfully, it’s rather well-located between Hokkaido’s bigger cities and towns and therefore makes for a perfect stop before moving on on your Hokkaido road trip itinerary.