Posts Tagged ‘Norboribetsu’

Rotten Eggs and Angry Devils

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Clouds of steam rise from the barren landscape in the appropriately named Hell Valley.  The rotten egg gas smell of sulphur pierces unsuspecting nasal passages small bubbling hot springs thread their way through the valley and into the hot rivers below.  Our screwed up noses and sounds of “Ewwww!” eventually disappear after we acclimatize to the environment located near Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.

Tourists flock to Norboribetsu Onsen (hot springs) to bathe in the 11 different types of water that spew from the earth around the village however many of the visitors also come to the area to see and smell Mother Nature’s display.

Mount Hiyori’s active volcano, fast flowing hot rivers and bubbling lakes are surrounded by lush forests and stunning fauna.  The well signposted walkways allow visitors to traverse the hills and valleys and take in the beauty of the area.

After walking the trails and photographing the natural spectacle you can take time out by bathing your legs in Oyunuma River, a river that flows out of one of the ancient steaming lakes below Mount Hiyori.  Stresses and strains quickly dissipate as the hot flowing water bathes your legs.  Moving your feet around on the soft pebbles embedded in the warm muddy bottom is also a great way to give yourself a free foot massage.

Descending back into the small village you can pay your respects to Oni, a demon statue that towers over the roadside.  Make sure you don’t upset him or he might decide to vent his anger through the nearby volcano!

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Pick Me – The Big Brown Guy

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Our small cable car is lifted high above the village of Norboribetsu Onsen and it affords us great views of the southern coastline of Hokkaido island in the distance.  We are on our way up the mountain to visit the Norboribetsu Bear Park.

The ropeway (cable car) up to the park takes around 10 minutes to ascend the steep mountain and it is a great way to take in some of the sights of the area.

Dozens of male and female Hokkaido brown bears are resident at the bear park and the design of the park allows visitors to get up close and personal with the huge native bears.

Each bear has a distinctive personality and they perform individualized tricks to get the attention of the tourists that wish to feed them. Small, healthy bear snacks can be purchased at outlets in the park and you are able to toss the snacks to the performing bears.  Whilst all of this sounds a little cruel the bears are very well looked after and they’re kept entertained too.  Whilst we don’t agree with the caging of wild animals if it must be done then at least here at Noboribetsu bear park it is done with some level of respect for the animals.

In addition to the bears, the small park also houses a bear museum and some huts which display the history of the people native to Hokkaido (Ainu).  Views of the stunning 145 m deep volcanic lake, Lake Kuttara can be seen from the observation deck on top of the bear museum.

Whilst the bear park is not very large, the gondola trip up the mountain and the performing bears are worth experiencing.  If you have time left over after seeing the hot springs area take a trip up to the bear park and see which one of the Ursus arctos lasiotus gets your attention!

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