Hot Springs and Nature in Hokkaido
Southern Hokkaido is rich in nature and boasts some of Japan's most famous hot springs and night views. Take a dip in a famous hot spring, test your skills as a ninja, explore an active volcano and round out your trip with the some of the freshest seafood in Japan.
Noboribetsu Onsen is one of the country's most well-known hot springs. Here, hot water gushes out at Hell Valley . Hike through the hellish landscape, then relax in a naturally heated bath. While in the area, stop at Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura. This historic theme park is a reproduction of an Edo-period (1603-1867) town. Just walking around will make you feel like you're in the age of the samurai. Here, you can see a variety of performances by oiran and ninja. You can also dress up in kimono or as a ninja. Nearby is Northern Horse Park. At this expansive park you can ride horses, cycle, or stroll through the flowers. On site are also restaurants that turn locally produced ingredients into one-of-a-kind dishes.
Turn up the heat and visit Toyako, a hot spring town on the shores of Lake Toya, a caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. In the center of the lake are four beautiful islands. The largest, Nakajima, has the Lake Toya Forest Museum. Here, you can learn about the area's plant and animal life.
Adjacent to Lake Toya is Mt. Usu , an active volcano that last erupted in 2000. Take the walkway to get a closer look at the crater. There is also a ropeway to the top, with panoramic views of the surroundings.
In Hakodate , don't miss the abundance of fresh seafood. Visit the morning market at 5 a.m. for a look at the day's catch of crab, squid and shellfish. You can also sample some of this delectable seafood one street over at Donburi Yokocho Ichiba. As a former gateway to the West, Hakodate features many western-style buildings. Famous spots include the Catholic Motomachi Church, the Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church, the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward , the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse , and many other buildings in the Motomachi district. Also worth a visit is Goryokaku , a star-shaped fortress built as a defensive base. Climb to the top of the Goryokaku Tower to see the fort from above. If you want more great views of the city below, take the ropeway to the top of Mt. Hakodate. You can see the romantic city lights below over a meal at Restaurant Genova.
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