Hokkaido is the northern most prefecture of Japan. It is most popular for snowfall and winter vacations. Sapporo's (capital of Hokkaido) snow festival looks gorgeous. However Hokkaido is also popular and worth vising in summer witnessing beautiful flower gardens and in autumn with colorful fall foliage. Autumn starts earlier in Hokkaido than the rest of the Japan! I was here in September.
Although there are so many popular destinations in Hokkaido, I had only 3 days & I picked few places which interested me the most.
Day1 : Noboribetsu (Noboribetsu onsen town -> Demon Spotting -> Jigokudani -> Oyunuma)
Noboribetsu city is known for:
Natural Hot springs or Onsen: known for having a "Wealth of Hot spring Types" like Sulfur, Aluminum, Salt, Iron, Acidic Iron, Mirabilite, Melanterite, Alkaline & Radium water springs!!! Each of which comes with their own health benefits! For ex: Sulfur/Sulphur water springs being milky-white in color having peculiar smell (it took me back to my class 12 chemistry labs ;)), tough to produce lather with soap is known to help ease chronic bronchitis, hardening arteries and chronic dermatitis!
Demons: Yes, you read it right! Noboribetsu onsen town is also known as "Japan's Demon town". People here, believed that only demons can survive the sweltering temperatures as Hell valley is just above the town. There are around 11 different demons known to protect the city. So you can go demon spotting in the town and also there cute demons for success in business, study, romance!!! A small hint is that Demon spotting starts with an 18-metre tall demon standing guard at the Highway round about for Noboribetsu, and the Welcome Demon sitting just outside JR Noboribetsu station.
Jigokudani (volcanic crater Jigokudani aka Hell Valley) gives you an opportunity to witness volcanic crater of geothermal activity created by eruptions 20000 years ago. Steam vents, geysers, and boiling lakes can usually be smelled before it is seen! For me this was the guide to reach the spot! It’s an experience of a lifetime that's hard to put in words, this day was filled with unreal spots and experiences and its totally worth a visit when you are in Japan
Oyunuma can be reached after walking for about 25-30 mins from Jigokudani. This walking trail is beautiful as you walk through the forest.... Oyunuma is a gourd-shaped lake formed by an explosion crater of Mt Kuttara & is one of the world’s rarest and largest hot water lakes. Surface temperature ranges 40-50 degree Celsius while at the bottom sulfur spring gushes out nearly at 130 degree Celsius! Another gorgeous experience here is Oyunuma brook Natural Foot-bath - an all-natural foot-bath that features rustic chairs and benches made of logs, great place to take a break & take in the lush surroundings of the forest
Bears and wolves are popular in this region and there is a bear park that can be visited which has some shows as well!
Lakes nearby are Lake Toya & Lake Shikotsu , since I made only a day trip to Noboribetsu and the public transport isn't that great in this area, we couldn't visit the lakes.
Noboribetsu is kind of once in a lifetime experience for me! :)