After spending the first 2 days in Hakodate, we moved on to Noboribetsu. We took an express JR train, checked-in Hotel Mahoroba and visited the famous Jigokudani (also known as Hell Valley) at night. I’ve mentioned in my last post that I didn’t enjoy Hakodate as much as I thought I would. On the contrary, Noboribetsu surprised me in many ways. Read on to find out more! 😀
Hokkaido Summer Free and Easy Vacation (Series of Posts)
Hotel Mahoroba Review – A Must for Onsen Enthusiasts – Day 3 ⬅ You are here!
As you know, Noboribetsu is Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring town, offering many kinds of thermal waters that are considered as Japan’s best and most effective. I looove onsen and I was SO excited to visit Noboribetsu. 😍
We took the 12:15pm train from Hakodate and arrived Noboribetsu at 2:50pm. We also bought delicious bento boxes 🍱 from the train station and enjoyed our lunch on the train while gazing out of the window at the beautiful landscape. It was such an enjoyable journey that 2.5 hours passed in a jiffy without us realizing it.
Noboribetsu JR station is a small one. From there, it takes 15-20 mins to arrive at Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal (costs 340-yen one way for adult). This is also considered the hot spring town area which is quite small and walkable.
Taking a Donan bus is convenient at Noboribetsu. We bought the bus tickets from the ticketing machine (inside the JR station). The green Donan bus was already waiting outside the station. Do note that this is a regular bus – no luggage compartment at the trunk. We had to bring our luggage onto the bus.
I was so glad to see an English display on the bus to inform passengers on the next alighting bus stop. For more information on Donan bus in Noboribetsu (including fares and timetable), you can visit this blog. Thanks to the writer for translating the timetable in English as the official Donan website is in Japanese only.
We alighted at the Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal (N11). Most of the onsen resorts are within walking distance from here. If you’re staying at Daiichi Takimotokan or Park Hotel Miyabitei, you may alight at the next stops. Hotel Mahoroba, where we will be staying for 2 nights, is just a few mins walk away.
Hotel Mahoroba Review
According to Toho Resort’s website, Hotel Mahoroba has 31 different types of baths with 4 different kinds of hot springs, as well as one of Japan’s largest open-air baths. I saw many different types of baths, but I didn’t count them. The resort is also much bigger than my expectations. 😃
We stayed in a Japanese-style room. This is how it looks like. If you have not stayed in a ryokan (traditional Japanese tatami-matted room) before, you may notice that there isn’t any bed. Most ryokan rooms are set up as minimalist tea rooms during the day. The ryokan staff will set up the futon mattresses while you are out for dinner. 😊
Hotel Mahoroba is a 3-star hotel, but I’d personally give a 4-star for its magnificent onsen on B1 and B2 floors. One floor is scheduled for one gender only at a time. If B1 is opened for women, then B2 is for men. Between 3-4pm daily, they will switch. So, make sure you experience all the great outdoors LOL.
Even when it was summer, the outdoor onsen was still quite windy. I couldn’t stay there for long, but I truly enjoyed the beautiful garden view and its tranquility. One of them has a waterfall, and the one next to it has a slide. Naked people on a slide! 😲
The indoor onsen was absolute heaven, I love them all! 💕 The first few seconds of stepping into it felt like I was being cooked, but in a good way. After a while, when my body adjusted to the temperature, all my tiredness was washed away in the hot water. It was delightful and super R E L A X I N G !
In addition, the onsen provides very good quality toiletries for use in the shower and dressing areas. I particularly loved the excellent horse oil products that Hokkaido is well-known for, as well as Kose skincare products. There’s also peeling gel for our face, leave-in hair treatment for our hair etc. I was SO impressed.
To be honest, I was satisfied with most parts of the hotel except for its meal. Most reviewers on Trip Advisor commented that the hotel has a good spread of sumptuous breakfast and dinner. While I agreed on the good spread, I wouldn’t say that they are delicious – or maybe not to my liking. The breakfast was mediocre with limited choices. There are Chinese porridge, Japanese food and Western food like bread and cereal, but none of them taste good to me.
The buffet dinner was slightly better, although nothing to shout about. The only thing that I like is the unlimited servings of snow crabs. There are many food items to choose from, but the taste wasn’t impressive to me.
Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
After dinner, we explored the Hell Valley. In the month of June, you can expect to see Oni Hanabi or Demon’s Fireworks. Hell Valley is the source of mineral-rich water used in the onsen baths and also the home to Yukijin – the god who protects from illness and disaster. The festival is held on Thursday and Friday nights, starting at 8:30pm.
By 8:00pm, guests from all the resorts started marching up to the Hell Valley. They gathered to watch the firework performances. We joined the fun too and took the opportunity to explore the area at night. It was such a thrill to feel the steam blowing in the dark as we walked along the mysterious lighted path.
All in all, it was an excellent stay at Hotel Mahoroba. With an average nightly rate of SG$400 for 3-pax in a Japanese-style room with breakfast and buffet dinner, I find that it’s value for money. One more thing before I forget! There’s also a very decent games arcade in the basement that provides entertainment for guests of all ages.
In my next post, I’ll share with you about Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe where you can see little penguins 🐧🐧🐧 waddle along in front of the crowd like a tiny army. Please stay tuned! 😀