This is Edmond from Hokkaido Government Representative Office. It is the day I am leaving Sapporo and heading to explore Noboribetsu and Lake Toya!
I headed to JR Sapporo station and catch the train to JR Noboribetsu station. The train ride took about 70 minutes. After reaching Noboribetsu station, I got on my rental car and headed straight to my first destination of the day, Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura.
Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura is a historical theme park that re-enacts the townscape and culture of the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867). The park has various attractions, where you can dress up as a ninja or a samurai and re-live the Edo period. You will also be able to color your own “Koma (Japanese spinning top)”. After coloring, the “Koma” will take about an hour for it to dry, therefore I would recommend doing so first before exploring the theme park, so that it will be ready when you leave. There are also 3 shows which you will be able to catch and I highly recommend the ninja show, where you will see an actual ninja fight scene right before your eyes.
Other attractions which you will be able to experience includes a haunted house, a ninja house and many more!
Entrance of Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
Interior of Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
Ninja show at Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
Ninjas posing at Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
I continued on towards the Jigoku-Dani (Hell Valley), which Noboribetsu is most well-known for. Jigoku-Dani (Hell Valley) is a valley formed in an explosion crater from an eruption of Mt. Kuttara 20,000 years ago. The area was given the name Jigoku-Dani (Hell Valley) because of its countless steaming geysers, bubbling springs and blowholes.
It is truly a breathtaking experience to walk down the pathway and feel the steam and be amazed by this marvel of nature. Also, you will be able to smell the smell of Sulphur all around you.
From the main area, I took a short walk to “Oyunuma (大湯沼)”, which is a gourd-shaped lake formed by the explosion of Mt. Kuttara. There is a pathway for you to follow and reach “Oyunuma Brook” a small river which originates from “Oyunuma”, where you can enjoy a natural hot spring footbath experience.
Noboribetsu Jigoku-Dani (Hell Valley)
“Oyunuma Brook” Natural Footbath
From Noboribetsu, I headed towards Lake Toya, but since I was hungry, I stopped by Muroran for lunch. Muroran is famous for its pork skewers called “Muroran Yakitori” and Quail egg flavored soft cream. Being the food lover myself, I just have to try both of them and they definitely did not disappoint.
Quail egg flavored soft cream
After lunch, we continued on and I finally reach the observation point of Lake Toya. Lake Toya is the third biggest caldera lake in Japan and has 4 small islands situated right in the middle of it. To get the bird’s eye view of the entire lake, I headed to the “Silo Observatory (サイロ展望台)”, where I got mesmerized by the spectacular beauty of Lake Toya. There is also a souvenir shop for you to buy some gifts at the observatory.
Bird’s eye view of Lake Toya
A short distance away from Silo Observatory, there is a cute soft cream store called “Lake Hill Farm”. The special thing about this store is that it gives you a spectacular view of Mt. Yotei, a stratovolcano which shape greatly resembles Mt. Fuji. “Lake Hill Farm” also has a cute sheep called “Yuki” in their garden, which you can interact with and take pictures.
“Lake Hill Farm”
View of Mt. Yotei from “Lake Hill Farm”
“Yuki” the sheep with Mt. Yotei in the background
I headed down towards the pier at the shore of Lake Toya for my cruise, which I recommend going for, if you have the time. During the spring to summer season, you will actually be able to take the cruise to one of the four small islands in the middle of Lake Toya to do a small hiking trip. Unfortunately, the island is only open from late April to the last day of October, therefore the cruise just took me around the lake. Despite not being able to head to the island, I still truly enjoyed it as it still brought me close to the islands for me to take many beautiful pictures.
Picture taken of the small islands from the Lake Toya cruise
As the sun is setting and the weather is getting cold, I headed towards my hotel which is located at the hot springs district of Lake Toya. As Lake Toya is a caldera lake, with volcanos surrounding it, you will find many hot spring resorts around the area.
After reaching the hotel, I realized that the Lake Toya Illuminated Tunnel event is on-going right beside my hotel. The tunnel is colored with around 400,000 colorful light bulbs. I just have to take my camera out and snap some pictures. The Lake Toya Illuminated Tunnel event is an annual event held from early November to early March.
Lake Toya Illuminated Tunnel
“TOYA” signage in the Illuminated Tunnel
Finally, I headed back to the hotel and went to soak in the hot springs. After spending the first 3 days of my Hokkaido trip in the Sapporo city area, being able to head out of the city to experience the beautiful vast nature that Hokkaido has to offer, makes me excited and looking forward to the upcoming days to come.