In Japan's wild northern island of Hokkaido there are many volcanically active areas such as Asahi-dake, the Shiretoko Mountain Range, Mount Meakan, Mount Io (Atosanupuri) and Mount Usu. These active areas gift Hokkaido with many onsen - natural hot springs.
Many of these hot springs can be found in breathtaking areas; some can be found beside scenic coastlines, while others are nestled within evergreen-speckled valleys. What's more, there is a huge variety of hot spring water types - including some with organic plant matter. One could call Hokkaido a hot spring paradise.
So what are some of Hokkaido's best onsen? Here we'll introduce Hokkaido’s popular hot spring areas you'll want to add to your bucket list!
1. Noboribetsu Onsen: Offering Various Kinds of Hot Spring Waters
One of Hokkaido’s famous hot spring areas, Noboribetsu Onsen’s source comes from a Jigokudani (Hell Valley), where steam can be seen rising. From here 10,000 tons of water gushes out a day and is directed to nearby hotels.
This area also has 9 different hot spring water qualities and you can feel the difference at various locations.
Jigokudani itself is also a sightseeing spot in Noboribetsu, and there's a walkway just so that you can explore around the area. Around the hot spring area there are many statues of Oni (demons) - the symbol of Noboribetsu.
One of Noboribetsu Onsen’s sources, Jigokudani
The hot spring district of Noboribetsu Onsen in the valley
・Feature: 9 different water qualities, each hot spring has a high temperature ranging from 45~90℃. You can enjoy different water quality hot springs and outdoor hot springs at hotels.
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: 14 hotels. Along Noboribetsu Onsen Dori, there are many restaurants and gift shops.
・Access: Around 1 hour and 50 minutes by Kosoku Onsen-Go bus from JR Sapporo Station, one bus per day.
・Hot Spring Quality and Effect
-Sulfur Spring: Chronic dermatopathia and others
-Common Salt Spring: Chronic dermatopathia and others
-Vitriol Spring: Anemia and others
-Radium Spring: Neuralgia and others
・Main Hotels: Dai-ichi Takimotokan, Noboribetsu Grand Hotel and Hotel Mahoroba
Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaido
2. Lake Toya Onsen: Abundant Quantity of Hot Spring Water and Beautiful View
Lake Toya is a colorful lake that was created by ancient volcanic activity. There is an island in the middle of the lake and the beautiful view is registered with Global Geoparks.
There are more than 10 hotels around the lakeside and many hotels that accommodate day trip hot springs. Also there are free hand and foot baths. Fireworks festivals are held every night from late April to October
Island in Lake Toya and Mount Yotei
Fireworks festival held every night from late April to October
・Feature: Splendid view of Lake Toya while enjoying the hot spring, plenty of hot spring water with 1400 liters per minute.
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: 14 hotels and inns, there are also guest-houses and boarding houses. Various restaurants and gift shops in the hot spring district.
・Access: Around 2 hours and 45 minutes by bus from JR Sapporo Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Natrium, calcium – chloride spring
・Effects: Cuts, poor blood circulation and others
・Main Hotels: Toyako Manseikaku Hotel Lakeside Terrace, Zekkei No Yado Toya Kohantei Ryokan Abuta and Toya Kanko Hotel
Touyakoonsen, Touyako-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido
3. Jozankei Onsen: Convenient Access from Sapporo Station
The popular hot spring area Jozankei is located 26km south from central Sapporo, about an hour drive. This historical hot spring was developed in 1886 when the Buddhist monk Miizumi Jozan was led to the hot spring source by the local Ainu people. It lies in a lush valley and it is also a popular location in autumn for the fall foliage.
The hot spring district along the valley
One can enjoy a splendid outdoor hot spring at a hotel
・Feature: Colorless and transparent water with a temperature between 50-80℃
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: Around 18 large hotels and long standing inns. The hot spring district has Gensen Park, hand and foot baths, and walking paths
・Access: About a 1 hour bus ride from JR Sapporo Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Natrium - chloride spring
・Effects: Anemia, neuralgia and others
・Main Hotels: Jozankei Manseikaku Hotel Milione, Jozankei View Hotel, and Hotel Shika-no-Yu
Jozankei, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido hot spring
4. Yunokawa Onsen: Located along the Ocean near Hakodate Airport
Yunokawa Onsen is located in a convenient sightseeing location that is 5 minutes away by car from Hakodate Airport and about 15 minutes by car from Hakodate City. It is a historical hot spring that was discovered in 1653. The first hot spring facility was opened in 1886 and the area kept developing.
Facing the Tsugaru Strait, there are many inns that provide an outdoor hot spring with an ocean view. Also the tropical botanical garden is famous for monkeys enjoying the hot spring during the winter.
A view of the Tsugaru Strait and Shimokita Peninsula on Honshu, to the right a view of Mount Hakodate can be seen
Yunokawa Onsen specialty, monkeys enjoying the hot spring
・Feature: Every minute 4,850 liters of water springs out from the 22 sources. The average temperature is 65℃.
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: There are about 19 hotels and Japanese-style restaurants and inns. There is no hot spring district focused with inns, restaurants and gift shops.
・Access: About a 6 hour bus ride from JR Sapporo Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Natrium - calcium chloride spring
・Effects: stiff shoulders, bruises, sprains and others
・Main Hotels: Yunokawa Prince Nagisatei, Yunokawa Takubokutei, Bourou Noguchi Hakodate Ryokan
Hakodate Yunokawa Hot Springs
Yunokawacho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido
5. Tokachigawa Onsen: A Rare Plant Moor Hot Spring!
Located on the riverbank of Tokachigawa (Tokachi River), the hot spring gushes out from 500 to 700 meters underground with a temperature about 55 ~ 60℃, and has a plant moor water quality.
Unlike mineral hot springs, moor hot springs are alkaline containing humic substance derived from peat and has a soft texture. It has a reputation to make your skin smooth.
The water is reddish brown with a unique odor and slight sliminess
・Feature: Alkaline with reddish brown color
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: 9 hotels are located along Tokachigawa riverbank, the inn with moor hot spring is in that area. However there is no hot spring district with inns and restaurants
・Access: About 30 minutes by car from JR Obihiro Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Weak alkaline hypotonicity hot spring
・Effects: neuralgia, arthralgia, chronic dermatitis and others
・Main Hotels: Hotel Daiheigen, Sasai Hotel, Sanyoan
Tokachigawaonsenminami, Otofuke-cho, Kato-gun, Hokkaido
6. Sounkyo Onsen: Located at the Base of Daisetsuzan
The mountain resort hot spring area sitting at an altitude of 670m is located at the base of Mount Kuro of the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group. You can reach the 7th station of Mount Kuro easily by using the ropeway and lift from the hot spring district. Sounkyo is a popular hot spring site known for its picturesque valley.
Beautiful view from the hot spring
The ropeway leading to Mount Kuro from Sounkyo Onsen
・Feature: Located at the base of Mount Kuro of the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, each hotel has their own hot spring source.
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: 17 hotels in the area
・Access: An hour and a half drive by car from JR Asahikawa Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Mainly simple thermal hot spring
・Effects: Neuralgia, poor circulation, arthralgia and others
・Main Hotels: Sounkyo Kanko Hotel, Hotel Taisetsu, Sounkyo Choyotei
〒078-1701 北海道上川郡上川町層雲峡／Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido 078-1701
Phone Number：01658-5-3350（SounkyoTourist Information）
7. Akanko Onsen: Located Beside Lake Akan, where Marimo Grow
A famous hot spring located on the riverside of Lake Akan where the natural treasure marimo (moss balls) grow. On the lakeside there are areas where you can feel Earth’s energy where pockets would blow out mud with volcanic gas.
There is a large hotel facing the lake and you can get a great view of Lake Akan, Mount Oakan and Mount Meakan from the outdoor hot spring. There is a traditional Ainu village near the hot spring district where you can experience Ainu culture.
Hotel Akankoso’s large bath area
Lake Akan and Mount Oakan
・Feature: Major sightseeing area of eastern Hokkaido, located at the lakeside of Lake Akan, and tourist attraction like marimo and Ainu Kotan
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: There is a large hotel on the lakeside, restaurants, Ainu gift shops, and foot and hand baths. At the Ainu Kotan there are gift shops operated by Ainu people and also a theater to enjoy traditional dance
・Access: About an hour and half by car from JR Kushiro Station. An hour and 15 minutes by the airport shuttle bus from Tancho Kushiro Airport
・Hot Spring Quality: Mainly simple thermal hot spring
・Effects: Neuralgia, poor circulation and others
・Main Hotels: Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga, New Akan Hotel, Hotel Akankoso
Akanko Hot Springs
Akancho, Kushiro-shi, Hokkaido
8. Kawayu Onsen: Sulfur Spring Flowing from Mount Io
Mount Io (Atosanupuri) located 3km away from the hot spring district was a sulfur mine. Fumarolic activity still continues and the smell of sulfur still lingers in the desolate landscape.
The hotels of Kawayu Onsen are located round the river where the hot spring flows out of Mount Io. There is a large foot bath in the area. With plenty of hot water, the hot spring area has 100% of the water coming directly from the source.
Volcanic smoke rising from Mount Io, the source of Kawayu Onsen
Sulfur hot spring piped directly from the source (Meiyu-no-Mori Hotel Kitafukuro)
・Feature: Few hotels and the hot spring district is spread out, however due to 100% of the spring water being direct from the source, many people come for hot spring treatment. It is the main sightseeing base for visiting Mount Io, Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo.
・Scale of the Hot Spring Area: There are 8 hotels in the Kawayu district and 1 near JR Kawayu Onsen Station
・Access: About an hour and half by car from JR Kushiro Station
・Hot Spring Quality: Strong acidic hydrogen sulphide inclusive, vitriol spring
・Effects: chronic dermatitis, neuralgia, and others
・Main Hotels: Kawayu Kanko Hotel, Yunokaku Ikedaya, Meiyu-no-Mori Hotel Kitafukuro
Kawayuonsen, Teshikaga-cho, Kawakami-gun, Hokkaido