One of the best things to do during the cool Autumn weather, is to indulge in a hot spring bath while taking in the majestic sight of nature’s red plumage of autumn leaves, and I was blown away by the scenic view that greeted me at the hot spring town of Noboribetsu (登別温泉).
While Noboribetsu comprises the nearby towns of Noboribetsu, Horobetsu and Washibetsu, most visitors (mainly Japanese) flock to the hot spring town of Noboribetsu Onsen 登別温泉, 6 km inland (15mins by car) from Noboribetsu itself. Founded on 13 September 1869, it has a population of 54,000 with a total area of 212.11 km2.
Getting to Noboribetsu
Take the JR Muroran Line to Noboribetsu Station from Sapporo. The jorney is approximately one hour and costs about ¥3850. Board the bus from JR Noboribetsu Station to the final bus stop, Noboribetsu-onsen (13 mins).
There are several limited express trains to Noboribetsu as well:
– Hokuto and Super Hokuto (between Hakodate and Sapporo costing about ¥4160)
– Suzuran (between Sapporo and Higashi-Muroran costing about ¥6500).
– Cassiopeia and Hokutosei trains to and from Ueno Station in Tokyo
– Twilight Express to and from Kyoto and Osaka in Kansai
– Hamanasu Sapporo-Aomori express (Aomori-Sapporo Hamanasu does not stop in Noboribetsu)
A cheaper alternative than the train, Chuo (中央) bus and Dounan (道南) bus offer cheap, ¥1900 yen (one-way) trips to Noboribetsu in about 2 hours. There are eleven direct buses per day and boarding is at Hakodate Station and Chuo Bus Terminal [中央バスターミナル).
If driving from Sapporo or Shin Chitose Airport, the fastest way is the Doo Expressway, then taking the “Noboribetsu Higashi” exit.