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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hokkaido Summer 2012 北海道夏季之旅 - Day 7 Itinerary: New Chitose Airport 新千岁空港

Day 7 - 16.07.2012

Breakfast: Noboribetsu Grand Hotel

Noboribetsu Grand Hotel > Noboribetsu JR Station
via taxi.
Fee = ~2,000 yen

Noboribetsu JR Station (0846 hrs) > Minami Chitose JR Station (0950 hrs)
by Super Hokuto via Muroran main line.

Minami Chitose JR Station > New Chitose Airport
by Rapid Airport Express.

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Toured New Chitose Airport:
(1) Calbee Plus, for freshly fried potato chips.
(2) Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park
(3) Royce Chocolate World

Lunch: Miso Kitchen, for buta-don.

New Chitose Airport (1435 hrs) > Narita T1 (1610 hrs)
via ANA NH2154

... continued journey in Tokyo.

- End of Hokkaido Summer 2012 Trip -

Hokkaido Summer 2012 北海道夏季之旅 - Noboribetsu Onsen Walking Trails

Visited 15.07.2012


Apart from Jigokudani, one can choose to venture deeper to see Oyunuma & Mt Hiyori and enjoy footbath in Oyunumagawa. After looking through the map which contains information on the distance and duration required to complete various walking trails, we decided on the following route:

(1) Followed through Jigokudani Loop Course to visit Tessen Pond.

View of Mt Hiyori and Oyunuma from Oyunuma Observatory
(2) Walked along Oyunuma Nature Trail to Oyunuma Observatory.
As this is a up slope route, we had to overcome a manageable amount of steps (was slighting taxing for my parents). Apart from clear markers/signs to direct trekkers to the various scenic spots, quiz boards (related to some of the natural landscapes/formations in Noboribetsu) were placed at the start of each route and the answers to these questions can be found at the end of the routes - a great way to motivate trekkers (and us) moving forward!

At Oyunuma Observatory, a beautiful view of both Mt Hiyori and Oyunuma can be seen. Mt Hiyori (日和山) is an active volcano standing at 377 m high and Oyunuma (大汤沼) a gourd shaped crater formed from volcanic explosion is about 1 km in circumference. The area is masked by fumes which are continuously generated from Mt Hiyori and hot waters of Oyunuma - first hand encounter of a "living" earth with intense amount of energy.

Taisho Jigoku
(3) Moved on to the main road and entered Oyunumagawa Sightseeing Pathway.
Moving downslope this time round, the steps here were pretty steep, therefore one needs to be extremely careful (and do take short breaks in between if required). Stopped by another active geyser, Taisho Jigoku (大正地狱), which is about 10 m in circumference. This burping geyser emerged during the Taisho period (1912 - 1926) which explains how the name was given.

Footpath leading to Oyunumagawa Natural Foot Bath



Followed the footpath at the banks of Oyunumagawa (大汤沼川) which eventually led us to one secluded section of the stream that is opened for visitors to soak their legs into it - Oyunumagawa Natural Foot Bath (天然足汤). The sulphur containing hot spring originates from Oyunuma and temperature of waters is in the comfortable range of 30 - 40 degC - great way to soothe the aching muscles after a long walk!

(4) Returned back to Noboribetsu Park Service Center via No. 2 Oyunuma Nature Trail.

The whole walking trail took us about 2 hours with short breaks in between to rest, capture photos and soak out legs! Personally found this a great way to explore Noboribetsu Onsen especially when the weather is good. Do make sure you bring along bottled water to quench your thirst and towels to wipe your feet if you plan to visit Oyunuma Natural Foot Bath before you embark on the walking trails.

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Tip: Do check out Noboribetsu Tourism Association website which contains plentiful information on how you can enjoy your stay in Noboribetsu.
- Noboribetsu Tourism Association: http://www.noboribetsu-spa.jp/?lang=en
- Noboribetsu Onsen Walking Map: http://www.noboribetsu-spa.jp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/tekuteku_en.pdf


Noboribetsu Onsen Map (Older Version)

Hokkaido Summer 2012 北海道夏季之旅 - Jigokudani 地狱谷, Tessen Pond 铁泉池

Visited 15.07.2012


Jigokudani, also referred to as Hell Valley, is a caldera formed from volcanic activity and undoubtedly the trademark of Noboribetsu. Ongoing spurting of steam can be observed from various outlets in this 11 hectares area. Barriers and warning signs are in place to prevent you from going near the hot water and steam. Jigokudani is less than 5 mins walk from Sengen Park & Daichii Takimotokan Hotel.


How to tour Jigokudani? Grab this useful guide to walking trails in Noboribetsu Onsen, which is readily available in hotels and tourist information centers. The brochure recommends various routes which you can cover depending on the time available, and some of them could be slightly physically demanding due to uneven terrain and steep steps. The shortest (and less physically challenging) route to get closer to Hell Valley is the Jigokudani Loop Course (highlighted in purple in the map below), which will take around 10 - 20 mins by foot. After capturing the picturesque scenery of fuming Jigokudani from the main observatory, follow the footpath to Tessen Pond (铁泉池) - a 80 degC, iron containing hot spring, and make your way back to the starting point. A short and sweet way to see the magnificent Jigokudani!


Demon's Fire Trail (鬼火の路) is an event that takes place everyday from May to Nov. During this period, the footpath to Tessen Pond is lit up at night till 2200 hrs. The glowing lights, coupled with the continuously emerging sulpur fumes, were intended to make Jigokudani look more mysteriously "dangerous" at night. Personally felt that the lighting was not sufficient (do watch your steps in the dark) and overall did not appear to be as scary as what was depicted in the poster. Nevertheless, it was still a different/unique way to experience the dynamics of Jigokudani.


Tip: Do check out Noboribetsu Tourism Association website which contains plentiful information on how you can enjoy your stay in Noboribetsu.
- Noboribetsu Tourism Association: http://www.noboribetsu-spa.jp/?lang=en
- Noboribetsu Onsen Walking Map: http://www.noboribetsu-spa.jp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/tekuteku_en.pdf

Noboribetsu Onsen Map (Older Version)
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Commemorative stamps: 

- From Noboribetsu Park Service Center -

- From Noboribetsu Park Service Center -

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hokkaido Summer 2012 北海道夏季之旅 - Tenho 天凤, Gokuraku dori 极乐通购物街, Sengen Park 源泉公园

Visited 15.07.2012

Noboribetsu Onsen is approximately 10 - 15 mins by taxi from Noboribetsu JR Station. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a strong sulphur smell which comes from the hot springs generated continuously in this area. Due to the huge variety of hot springs Noboribetsu Onsen offers, many hotels & ryokans have developed in the area to tap on this nature resource, and Noboribetsu has become one of the top hot springs location in Hokkaido.


Gokaruku dori is the main shopping street in Noboribetsu Onsen, within walking distance from most hotels in the area. From the bus terminal to Sengen Park & Daiichi Takimotokan Hotel, shops and restaurants lined up both sides of this street. Don't expect huge departmental stores in this area, the shops here sell local produce and souvenirs, targeted mainly at tourists. At night, you can find many people in yukata (after dinner/soak in hot springs) strolling along this street, patronising the shops before calling it a day.

Lunch: Food choices is not extensive as most hotels and ryokans have their own restaurants and offer two meals (breakfast and dinner) for their guests. Picked up a handy food guide brochure from the tourist information centre and decided to try out Tenho, a ramen shop apparently known for their own miso creation that is based on a family recipe passed down for generations. Ordered a miso-based ramen - soup was not too salty and suited our taste.  

Attractions:

(1) Shrine for King Enma (King of Hell). At stipulated timings (1000, 1300, 1500, 1700, 2000 and 2100 hrs during summer period), the statue will come into "life" - an short automated performance whereby the face of King Enma changes from solemn to fiery.


(2) Demon stone statues located at various locations along Gokuraku dori. There are a total of four of them and each has its own unique meaning - a demon couple symbolises good relationship, one holding a book symbolises success in studies, one with its left hand lifted up (like a fortune cat) symbolises business prosperity and a small shrine with a demon statue praying for good health.

(3) Sengen Park - A geyser is found in this park whereby 2000 litres of hot water (80 degC) and steam is ejected every three hours, lasting for around 50 mins each time. The power of geyser definitely not to be underestimated...

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Gokuraku dori 极乐通购物街


View Gokaruku dori in a larger map

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Commemorative stamps:

- From Tourist Information Centre -

- From Tourist Information Centre -

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hokkaido Summer 2012 北海道夏季之旅 - Noboribetsu Marine Park NIXE 登别海洋公园尼克斯, H.I.S Discount Coupons

Visited 15.07.2012


Visited only Marine Park NIXE out of the three theme parks located in Noboribetsu. The plan was to arrive in Noboribetsu in the morning and visit this marine park which is located near the train station. Kept our luggage in the lockers provided in the train station and walked to the marine park.


This marine park is a reproduction of a Northern European town. The red brick NIXE castle, which houses an oceanic museum and aquarium, is the most distinctive feature of the park. Overall, a moderate sized park with aquarium and live shows/performances to keep visitors occupied for at least half a day. Do check out the timings of respective shows and plan your desired itinerary ahead such that you can fully maximise the time stayed here.

Highlights:



(1) Penguin Parade - Penguins are undoubtedly the stars of Noboribetsu Marine Park. The parade, which takes place twice a day (1100 and 1400 hrs), see adorable penguins wobbling within a designated route in the park. Do standby in front of NIXE Castle at least 10 - 15 mins before the parade starts in order to get a good spot to catch the penguins unnerved expressions.


(2) Dolphin Show - Four shows per day during summer season (1000, 1125, 1330 and 1530 hrs). Watch how the agile dolphins perform amazing stunts in the pool - yet another popular attraction within this theme park.


(3) NIXE Castle - A four storey high castle that aims to provide a peek into the vast and dynamic marine life. A tall water tank (which creates a portion of Great Barrier Reef) stands at the entrance of the castle (2nd floor). You will be led to the 4th floor first - a pool which allows visitors to touch some of the sea creatures e.g. starfish, sea cucumbers, small sharks, etc. Various species of fishes are showcased in the aqua gallery on the 3rd floor. On the 1st floor, you will move through the underwater tunnels to see fishes swimming above head. Unfortunately, you won't find features of a castle inside this building - internally it is pretty similar to some other aquarium or marine parks that I have been to previously. Tip: You can slot in the visit of this castle between live shows/performances.


(4) Seal Ring Pool - A small pool situated on the left of NIXE castle, where you can observe seals moving skilfully through the upright circular portion of the pool. To see a more energetic and playful side of the seals & how the staffs/trainers interact with them, you can visit the seals during their feeding times.


(5) Other attractions: Reptile House (a small exhibition of different species/country of origin of frogs, turtles, tortoises, snakes, etc), Milky Way Pool (a magnificent sight of 10,000+ sardines, all swimming in the same direction and Sea Lion Show (which I did not manage to catch).

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Discounts: 
(1) Theme Park Ticket: Significant savings with this ticket if you plan to visit at least two of the theme parks in Noboribetsu. This ticket can be used over three days and is available at the ticket counters in all three theme parks.

Price of Theme Park Ticket:
- Visit any two theme parks = 3,300 yen (adult), 2,000 yen (child)
- Visit all three theme parks = 4,300 yen (adult), 2,600 yen (child)

Admission fee to respective theme parks:
- Marine Park = 2,400 yen (adult), 1,200 yen (child)
- Bear Park = 2,520 yen (adult), 1,260 yen (child)
http://www.bearpark.jp/english/general_guidance/index.htm
- Date Jindaimura = 2,900 yen (adult), 1,500 yen (child)
http://edo-trip.jp/lng_english/

(2) H.I.S. Coupon (iphone app): H.I.S. is a Japanese owned travel agency with offices/branches worldwide. They have developed several travel apps and this particular apps offer limited number of discount coupons to many attractions and restaurants in Japan. Find the location of this attraction on the map and download the discount coupon (do take note of the validity date as well). Flash the discount coupon prior to ticket purchase to enjoy the discounted rates. Enjoy 200 yen discount for adult admission tickets for Noboribetsu Marine Park.
https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/h.i.s.-coupon/id408828943?mt=8


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Noboribetsu Marine Park NIXE 登别海洋公园尼克斯
http://www.nixe.co.jp/main.htm
< 5 mins walk from Noboribetsu JR Station
Opening hours: 0900 - 1700 hrs
Admission Fee = 2,400 yen (adult), 1,200 yen (child)

View Larger Map

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Commemorative stamp: