We woke up to a beautiful day, bright and sunny, perfect for a long 3 hours drive towards Noboribetsu. Noboribetsu is one of the most famous onsen town in Japan, said to have some of the best hot spring water in Japan. The source of all these goodies is Jigokudani (Hell Valley) – one of the must-visit place in Hokkaido. Parents don’t fret tho, there is a Marine Park Nixe, to entertain your kids who can’t appreciate the nature yet.
Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe
1-22 22 Noboribetsu Higashimachi, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0492 | 9am – 5pm | Map Code 603 142 368 | Website
Marine Park Nixe is a relatively small but entertaining aquarium set up in a castle style. Located near the Noboribetsu Onsen, this is the perfect pit stop after 2.5 hours of driving from Furano. The various animal shows are highly entertaining and in great proximity which gave us wonderful view of the animals. We enjoyed the dolphin show a lot as we were so near to the creatures and they are just simply delightful.
The highlight tho, has got to be the penguin parade where penguins will come out of their enclosure and walk among the visitors. Asahiyama Zoo has a penguin parade too which only happens during Winter. So this is a good alternative if you are not visiting during winter. Check their website for the timings for the various animal shows. We brought the tickets from Klook, which are cheaper than buying on-site.
A pleasant surprise for us is Nixeland – a small amusement park for the visitors to Marine Park Nixe. We didn’t know about this amusement park until we were there and our parking ticket entitled us to a free ride on the ferris wheel. No kid can say no to ferris wheel! But do check their operating hours as it doesn’t seems to be open during winter.
No filter at all. How does the sky looks so blue! After a fun time at Marine Park Nixe, it is time to head to Hell Valley before it turns dark!
Jigokudani (Hell Valley, 地獄谷)
無番地 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan | 8am – 6pm | Map Code 603 288 360
Hell Valley is a short 10 minutes drive away from Marine Park Nixe. When we entered the parking area, a parking attendant handed us an english map of the place and signal the direction for us to go. Gotta love their good services.
There are several different trails one can take around the valley. With young kids along, we choose one of the easiest that could be completed in 15 – 20 minutes. The moment we neared the valley, a strong sulphuric smell meet our noses. It was not as unbearable as I thought and Baby E even commented that it smelled like egg! Guess she must have been hungry lol.
Hell Valley, as expected, is filled with throngs of tourists. But there is no lack of photo-taking opportunities along the trail as the magnificent view never seems to end. The koyo was at its peak when we were there it was such a beautiful sight.
312-1 Kojohama Shiraoicho Shiraoigun, Shiraoi, Noboribetsu, Japan, 059 0641 | Telephone (+81) 144-87-2621
After witnessing the source of the hot spring waters that powers the popular Noboribetsu town, it’s time to experience their onsen! Hotel Izumi is a rather old hotel that is located further out of the onsen town. But it provides one of the more affordable half-board onsen stay that I have ever come across in Japan. For 2 adults, 1 child with meal and 1 toddler (no meal provided), a night of half-board onsen stay costs us less than S$400. But of course the price varies, depending on your meal options. They offer a wide range of meal options from seafood dinner to kaiseki dinner. We choose a pork sukiyaki dinner meal and it came with pork sukiyaki, miso soup, chawamushi, slices of sashimi, potato salad, a small desert and some small dishes. The rice is free-flow so my 6yo shares her meal with my toddler and I think the portion is just nice for them. Taste-wise, I think is pretty good.
Their breakfast portion may look little, but with rice (yes, rice in the morning) it was really filling. I really wonder how does Japanese stays so slim. I mean, rice in every meal!
After a wonderful dinner, it’s time for onsen! I think part of the reason why Hotel Izumi is more affordable, is the fact that all their rooms does not have their own shower room. To shower, you have to go to their public bathhouse, which is 100% hot spring waters by the way. Definitely not for those who like their privacy, but if you love to soak yourself (pun intended) in Japanese culture, this could be it.
We reached the hotel at night, and we totally forgotten that we had chosen an ocean view room until the next morning.
It was amazing, waking up to such awesome view.
Next, we drove down to Hakodate, but not before stopping over at Lake Toya.