September 29, 2017

Noboribetsu Jigokudani

Another highlight of my trip to Hokkaido was Jigokudani in Noboribetsu.

From Sapporo, Noboribetsu can be reached by Super Hokuto in about 1 hour. For most visitors, the main target is the hot spring village of Noboribetsu Onsen. This is Hokkaido's most famous hot spring area, offering as many as 11 different kinds of thermal waters and considered as one of the best in Japan. I wanted to experience the onsen here but we didn't have the luxury of time so it was only Jigokudani this time.

Noboribetsu mascot, the devil

Jigokudani or 'Hell Valley' is a valley just above the Noboribetsu Onsen town. In fact, it is the main source of Noboribetsu's hot spring waters.

From JR Noboribetsu station, take the N1 bus just outside the station to Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal. Fare is 340 yen one way and the ride lasts about 20 minutes. From there, it is just a 5 minutes walk to the valley.

hot steam vents

more hot steam on the way to Jigokudani

devils welcoming you

There's no entrance fee to the valley but if you're driving, the vehicle parking free is 500 yen.

area map and walking trails

The entire area was stunning. There's wooden platform where you can walk above the volcanic craters and observe the rocky terrain, hot steam vents, sulfurous streams, bubbling springs and mud pools. 

sulfur and volcanic gas seeping from the rocks

warning signboard

Jigokudani or the Hell Valley. 
It is called so because volcanic gas seeping from the surface of the rocks and the strong smell of sulfur gives it an image like that of hell.

there's intermittent geyser at this pond

There are several walking trails for the lookout points as well as various spots. We followed the Oyunuma walking trail.

to Oyunuma

The trail had informative signage with Q&A that gives you the answer to each question at the next signage. It made the unguided tour along the trail educational.

one of the Q&As

interesting info

 About 15 minutes walk, we reached the Oyunuma lookout point. Oyunuma is a sulfurous pond with a surface temperature of 50 degrees Celcius.

see the steam?

I wanted to go nearer to the pond, but there's no way down from this lookout point. We needed to return to the valley and walk from the road there. Hmm.. next time la.

Flowing out of Oyunuma is a river called Oyunumagawa where you can enjoy a natural foot bath. We followed the signboard to the footbath but it was nowhere to be seen. Thought we were lost so we returned to the valley. I learnt later on that the footbath section was closed. No wonder we couldn't find it.

Jigokudani is a unique, picturesque and somewhat mysterious landscape. Coming from a country that doesn't have any volcanoes, it was an interesting experience.

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