【Kotan Open-air Hot Spring】
Lake Kussharo is Japan’s largest caldera lake. Formed over time due to volcanic activities, today, the lake is famous for its numerous hot springs. One of the most secluded in its vicinity is the Kotan Open-air Hot Spring. Situated surprisingly close to Lake Kussharo, bathing here allows for a fantastic view of the lake’s surrounding nature. In winter, the sight becomes even more spectacular when the swans gather on the lake. Soaking in the hot spring waters with a view of the winter landscape and swans is an experience you can’t have anywhere else! A large rock separates the bathing area and there are separate changing rooms for men and women. Because of the half-mixed setting, it’s also possible to bathe in a bathing suit or wrapped in a towel.
The hot spring is open for visitors every week on Tuesdays and Fridays from May to October, and every Friday from November to April.
■Access: A 20-minute taxi ride from Kawayuonsen on the JR Kushiro Main Line.
■Address: Kotan, Lake Kussharo, Teshikaga, Kawakami District, Hokkaido
Jozankei is a popular onsen district located in the suburbs of Sapporo City, known for the beauty of the surrounding nature. The views are fantastic in each season, and there are plenty of snow activities to enjoy in winter. Horse riding, dog sledding and snowshoeing are some of the best outdoor activities. You can also spend the day visiting shrines or just taking a walk through the beautiful natural landscapes.
Find out more at Jozankei Onsen’s official website at https://jozankei.jp/en/
Ginkonyu Onsen was named after the day it was discovered: Showa Emperor’s 25th wedding anniversary. The word “Ginkon” in Japanese refers to the 25th anniversary for married couples, and for that reason, the onsen is popular among couples who are looking to get married or those celebrating their Ginkon anniversary. It’s also popular for its accessibility, being only an hour away from Hakodate by car.
You can also see the beautiful natural landscapes from the onsen all year round, and the snowy scenery in winter is a must-see.
Only available to those who are staying overnight are the five special “hidden baths,” the hot spring is said to help cure symptoms such as stress and pain.
■Address: 199 Kaminoyu, Yakumo, Futami District, Hokkaido
■Access:Get off at Otoshibe Station (JR Hakodate Main Line) and take the shuttle bus to Ginkonyu (about 15 mins)
Noboribetsu is known in Japan as “onsen heaven,” with numerous hot springs and rare natural landscapes. Among them is Jigokudani (literally meaning Hell’s Valley), an area with plenty of hotels to choose from and hot waters to soak in. Pulled from underground sources, the hot springs in Jigokudani are scalding and release a lot of steam, hence its name. There are many open-air baths, but it isn’t recommended to bathe in them since the water is scorching hot. Instead, visitors are encouraged to experience these “sources from hell” at River Oyunuma Natural Footbath. It’s an ideal destination for travelers to relax and take their time to walk around the onsen town.
■Access: From Noboribetsu Station, take the bus bound for Noboribetsu Onsen (appx.15 minutes; 1 hour from Shin-Chitose Airport).
■Address: Noboribetsu Onsen Town, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
■Spot Introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/destinations/take-a-steamy-dip-at-noboribetsu-onsen
【Marukoma Onsen Ryokan】
Located just an hour’s drive from New Chitose Airport, Marukoma Onsen Ryokan is one of Hokkaido’s best-kept hot spring secrets. Surrounded by stunning natural sights and hot springs, this is a one-of-a-kind destination to get thoroughly rejuvenated. Watch Lake Shikotsu change its splendid view in front of you as you relax in the inn’s healing hot springs. Stay in for a couple of days or stop by just for the bath experience! Private baths are also available for booking. While in the area, make sure to taste the local “himemasu” (kokanee salmon) dish, freshly baked in front of you.
■Address & Access: 7 Horobinai, Chitose, Hokkaido. The inn can be reached via a shuttle bus from New Chitose Airport (approximately 54 minutes) or train from JR Chitose Station (about 44 minutes). Get off at Lake Shikotsu Bus Terminal. Shuttle service to the inn is available from there.