Noboribetsu is THE onsen city in Hokkaido. It is known across Japan, if not the globe, that Noboribetsu has one of the best Onsens around, thanks to Jigokudani (Hells Valley), an active volcano pit just above the city that supplies hot sulphuric spring water to the Noboribetsu Area.
The hot water from these springs helps to relax the body and have been said to have several medical benefits. Many come from all corners of the globe to this tiny little town just to experience an authentic Japanese calming Onsen retreat, because just the Onsen alone makes the visit the Noboribetsu worthwhile.
Hotel Mahoroba is one of the main onsen ryokans in the area and for good reason. It is easily accessible and within walking distance to the key attractions of the city such as Hell’s Valley and Noboribetsu Bear Park.
But even if you have no intentions to leave the hotel, that is ok because the facilities in and within the hotel is sufficient to keep any guest feel at home.
Like most Ryokans in the area, Mahoroba has a public bath that is divided by gender. Each gender’s public onsen bath also has not just an indoor onsen but also an outdoor onsen area that oversees the nearby scenic spots. Just imagine soaking in hot spring water as the cold wind blows onto your face while you look out into the beautiful forest and mountains of the region.
For those who want to have a little more flexibility or privacy, you would also be able to upgrade your room to one that has your own in room Onsen experience.
The room itself is hugeeee for two person and the beds are ever so thick and soft that you would feel like you are sleeping on clouds (especially after soaking in the onsen). Unlike other Ryokans that give you a standard set of Yukata (the kimono like robe you wear for your onsen), Mahoroba’s room also comes with your own personal wardrobe of S, M, L, XL Yukatas that you can choose from, that best suit your body type/size. Towels (of all sizes), shoes, everything that you need is all catered for. Even the in room shower is replicated with the usual onsen stool and wooden pails for that genuine experience.
The Onsen itself is amazing. It is situated at the outdoor balcony area so you would still be able view the nearby sceneries as you soak in your personal onsen. If you are afraid of people peeking in, simply roll down their available blinds for that sense of security.
The tub is deep enough for you to sit right into it and up to your neck level, and their onsen runs greenish sulphuric hot spring water from Jigokudani. Call me biased, but i personally prefer the greenish sulphuric smelling spring water over the clear onsen waters as I personally feel that that makes the experience more authentic.
Onsen aside, the biggest personal tick i have about choosing a Ryokan is their food. Most Ryokan offer Japanese food served to your room for a Japanese experience. While this is refreshing once or twice, it does wear out pretty quickly as you would not be able to choose the food you like and there is usually quite a bit of waiting time for your meals to come. Such experiences also usually means that they would traditional Japanese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What I love about Mahoroba is that the dinner is a buffet dinner served at the dining hall and boy was their dinner good. Think free flow grilled beef, King Crab legs, squid, sushi, salmon, Tobiko (fish eggs), soft drinks and so much more. They even had both western desserts such as cakes and also Japanese desserts such as mochi.
If I were to sum Mahoroba up, it is that it is the prefect mix of authentic Japanese culture with a modern touch. Most other ryokans and hotels stand at the extreme end of either spectrum but none has been able to balance the two out as well as Mahoroba has. It offers tatami floor but you sleep on soft comfortable beds. It has wooden stools and onsen areas for that Japanese experience, yet still has technology in built into their toilets and systems. It offers traditional Japanese food, but also serves a mix of modern food for the foreigners like myself.
I’ve been to a few Ryokans in my life, and I dare say that Mahoroba tops my list of Ryokans and I would definitely want to head back there again soon.
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