Friday, March 30, 2018

The Walking Trail / Pathway (Covering Hell's Valley, Oyunuma, Oku no Yu & Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath) @ Noboribetsu [Hokkaido, Japan]

Many blogs would just mention about Hell's Valley in their itinerary to Noboribetsu in Hokkaido but there's much more to this quaint, little onsen town; for example, the pathways leading to a few impressive natural wonders!

I have shared those "wonders" in the past week although having a summary might allow you to decide which is better; walking versus driving. So let's now begin from the 'main' entrance; the Y-junction for Hell Valley, Yuzuwa shrine and Geyser Park.

Another mini shrine slightly further down the road leading to Hell Valley

Absolutely no idea what the shrine was honoring; the small statue within seemed to be either a very angry man / or bearish looking demon. Honestly, I can't decipher much.

It's easy to locate this mini shrine down as it's flanked on both sides by gigantic demons; a seated blue demon which was about 2.2 meters tall.

And a standing 3.5 meters tall red-skinned demon!

View of Hell Valley - this would be the same side of view that those soaking in onsen heaven at dai ichi takimotokan would be greeted with.

Hell Valley (Jigoku-dani) - for detailed writeup (and way more photos), click here. For those thinking if it is similar to the thermal valley in Taiwan's beitou, it's not the same!

Continuing our walk as it's only 5.00 pm.

Attention seeking board on wooden pole - hiking is a very boring affair, especially for those who are not observant to the little movements in nature; hence, let's gain knowledge by participating in this along-the-trail fun quiz regarding Noboribetsu!

If not for the metal rods that acted as fences, i would have thought this was an ancient platform to conduct century-old Japanese rituals.

It's essentially a viewing platform overlooking Hell Valley.

Directional signs were clearly displayed and getting lost isn't an option unless you are terrible in following the paths! 

Question No 1 - What's the circumference of Oyunuma? For the answer, look out for the panel for question no 2.  Actually, what i find more interesting was the information that 3,000 tons of hot water from Oyunuma flows into the ocean! It. however, begets the question if it is daily, monthly or yearly.

430 meter to Oku no Yu (奥の湯) which is honestly just beside Oyunuma and 1.3 kilometers to the place which is one of the highlights of my Hokkaido trip; Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath.

Totally expected upward trail.

Did i just miss out on the panel for question 2?! Anyway, the information this time was that Oyunuma is a rare crater lake with grayish black hot water! Well, it didn't look grey in real life actually.

Climbing up the stairs - as weather was relatively cooling, it seriously wasn't that much of an issue. Take it slow and steady and if need be, held on to the rails.

What's a forest fire? Just fire in a forest right?

Another sign pointing towards Oyunuma and 20 meters from an observatory overlooking one of the world's largest hot water lakes.

Once again, i don't recall seeing the panel for question 4! Information - apparently about 300 tons of sulfur sediments a month are collected from the bottom of Oyunuma.

Eh, a stone guardian wearing a Chinese dudou (肚兜) the wrong side up?

Observatory for Oyunuma!

With trees, bushes and branches blocking the view, i didn't manage to secure a good photo of Oyunuma. At times like this, i really wish to have to have a drone!

A better yet not perfect photo; nevertheless, you can still see the smoke emitting from somewhere the top of an active volcano; Mt Hiyori.

Rather muddy path; hence, do remember to wear a good pair of hiking shoes. I didn't, thinking my sandals would be fine, and was thankful i didn't slip and injure myself!

No handrail; do descend carefully!

Finally, a running panel from the previous one! In this board, it was mentioned that precious plants grow around Oyunuma and the area known as noboribetsu primeval forest has been designated as a natural monument for quite a while.

Been a natural monument for how long? Since 1924 according to the answer on panel 7! It's a pity this was the last panel i chanced upon as the question on panel 7 mentioned that Mt Hiyori is named as such because fishermen rely on it to tell the weather (hiyori seems to refer to weather) and what does it mean if you see smoke.

Oku no Yu (奥の湯) - click here for more pictures!

After Oku no Yu would be the second most famous sight in noboribetsu; Oyunuma, the biggest thermal lake in Japan and one of the largest in the world.


Smoking Mt Hiyori - the question still bothers me; does it mean the weather is good if the active volcano continues to emit smoke?!

Taisho Jigoku (大正地獄) - with a 10-meter circumference, this geyser is known to be unpredictable and has the ability to reflect seven different colours.

Unfortunately, it's closed to the public due to erratic eruptions. I could have crossed over the low fence but when one is overseas, one shouldn't do stupid things.

Closer look of Taisho Jigoku from behind the safety barrier.

Arrival at Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath - we had such a great time soaking out feet; we returned the next morning! Absolutely therapeutic for the body, feet and soul! For more photos, click here.

Out to the main road where we will proceed back to Takimoto Inn! As mentioned in one of the postings, we drove along this road from Lake Toya to Noboribetsu.

Parent-child blue demons to welcome visitors; father is a towering 5-meter giant whereas the kid is about 2-meter. If not for their skin colour, the horns on their head and the sharp canines, they would have been labelled as mere giants!

Sigh, we should have driven as there's a free carpark near Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath and overseas time is always so precious.

A rundown dwelling on my right side.

One of many ryokans in the area; i believe the best would be dai ichi takimotokan as it offers the onsen heaven with seven types of bath and a view of Hell's Valley!

Back to Takimoto Inn with Geyser Park next to it!

In summary, we trekked for about 3.29 kilometers to cover Hell Valley, Oyunuma (大湯沼) and Oyunuma Brook Natural Foot Bath which took us a total of 2 hours. 

For planning purposes, you may refer to the above walking map!
(right click and save to your local drive)

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