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Aloha Sapporo! Visiting Noboribetsu

We ate, bathed and shopped in the spa town known as “Hell’s Belly”

Posted November 5, 2012 by Melissa Chang

Here's all you get to cover up at an onsen. Cel phone shows scale.

Many Japanese people visit the spa town of Noboribetsu, Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort, so we thought we should do the same. Noboribetsu is a haven for onsen fanatics, since the hot springs in this town produce 11 types of thermal waters, each having its own set of healing properties.

Each of the hotels in this area have their public baths set up differently, as well, so you will often see people “onsen hopping,” as we did, to see what the baths are like. Most times if you’re a guest at a hotel, you can go to the bath for free; visiting another hotel incurs an admission fee. Oh, um, by the way: we’re all buck naked in these public baths. (Sorry, no cameras allowed in these places, so I can’t show you everything.)

Hotels tend to be expensive here since it is a very tourist-oriented town. The cheapest hotel we could find was the Noboribetsu Manseikaku, at $200 a night (click here to see how our room looked). The one we wanted to stay in, with 29 different baths, was the Daiichi Takimotokan — but that was $400 per night. You’ll find a small shopping street with stores that offer all kinds of regional souvenirs; there’s also a bear park just above the town, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to go (we were told Westerners would find it disturbing). Most importantly, the food is good, as you will see:

Noboribetsu (1 of 32)


Noboribetsu is often referred to as "Hell's Belly" due to the geyser action, causing many huge pockets of steam and, subsequently, sulphuric aroma. There are demons all over the town to symbolize this nickname.

Those were just the highlights of our time in Noboribetsu. If you want to see the rest of my photos, click here. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Melissa808, or Laurie @Konaish!

Remember the talking statue from my gallery? Here’s the performance. It was actually five minutes long, but I cut it to spare you the wait.

Next: Visiting Asahikawa and discovering that there is stuff to do there, despite what people say!


You can read all of Melissa’s blogs at Follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa808, on Foursquare as Melissa808, or email at

  1. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Delicate Blossom:  Yup, them’s small towels.  First time I went to a sauna in Europe, it was buck neked and co-ed!  It takes about 30 seconds to get used to it, then it is a great way to lose inhibitions.

  2. M
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Hello Melissa,
    Great pictures! But I wanted to see the buck naked ones…..

  3. konaish
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

    @Annoddah_Dave melissa808 Yes, it doesn’t take long to get comfortable with the nakedness. I really enjoyed the onsen experience – got to cross this one from by bucket list.

  4. Melissa808
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    @M LOL I’m sure!

  5. Melissa808
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

    @Annoddah_Dave I agree! I don’t know if I could do a co-ed one, though.

  6. Amy1
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Melissa, that cute guy is hot. Glad he was in your group helping out. You should visit Taiwan Sun Moon Lake one day the village was very nice and funny all serve hotpot due to it easy to make.

  7. Melissa808
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    @Amy1 hahaha! Yeah, he was cute. Very expressive, too! Kept looking at our food grilling and making Mmmmmm noises! I do hope to visit Taiwan one day soon…..will tap in for tips!

  8. turkfontaine
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @Melissa808  @M yeah, the butt nekkid ones. guess i’ll just have to go to your xxx web cam after you get back to pantsless melrose place.

  9. turkfontaine
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    @Melissa808  @Annoddah_Dave then it’s true. what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

  10. Melissa808
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    @turkfontaine  @M they don’t allow cameras in the onsen area….no matter how hard we tried…..

About Melissa Chang

Melissa has been blogging regularly since 2007 and has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and public relations. She is currently an independent marketing consultant, specializing in social media. 

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