A Trip to Hell (Valley That Is): Jigokudani, Hokkaido

Photo: Wasin Waeosri on Flickr

A Trip to Hell (Valley That Is): Jigokudani, Hokkaido

Sally Chow

When it comes to Hokkaido, can you name some representative locations? Lavender farm in Biei? Beer factory in Sapporo? Shiroi Koibito Park? Indeed, they are special. But, you have to know this wonderful place: Hell Valley!

As its name suggests, “Hell Valley” (or so-called “Jigokudani” in Japanese) is reminiscent of Hell with demons living inside. To be exact, Jigokudani (地獄谷) is a valley with hot stream and volcanic gases coming out from its ground. Its continuous boiling and bubbling water is spectacular. Due to the eruption of Mount Kuttara 20,000 years ago, leaving this 450-meter crater behind, it became known as “Jigokudani” afterwards. Its hot water is the main source for Noboribetsu hot spring resort area.

Surroundings of Hell Valley:


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Before reaching Hell Valley, there are various places that you will see. If you take JR to Noboribetsu, you can take the bus directly from Noboribetsu Station. The picture above is the bus station where you get off at.

Onset Street


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You have to cross Onset Street before reaching Jigokudani. Even though this street is not very long, both sides are filled with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Why not take some time and give yourself a break?

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When you see this sign, it means you have nearly reached your destination!  This statue represents Jigokudani. Looks suitable for a place called “Hell Valley”.

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Tourist Center


After strolling along the Onset Street, you can see the tourist center. If you want to know more about Jigokudani, drop by the information center near Hell Valley. Take a map and brochure there. In the meantime, it’s definitely a paradise for souvenir lovers, take some time and buy some souvenirs before you leave!

Long-Awaited Destination – Hell Valley


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When you see this sign, just walk for two more minutes and you have come to the destination. Standing there, you can have a glimpse of the whole landscape of Jigokudani. Do stop by and take a picture!

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For safety purpose, fences were built everywhere. There is a walking trail designed for visitors to hang around the mountain. Walking along the trail only takes around 30 minutes.  Since volcanic activities are frequent, you can see smoke from time to time and you can feel the heat as well. Americans visiting may be reminded of a certain area in Wyoming.

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Please be reminded that colors of Jigokudani keep changing, depending on seasons and the time. For daytime in winter, the rocks are in gray and reddish-brown colours. As the weather is relatively cold, snow appears alongside the mountain. With good weather conditions, you can definitely take wonderful photos there.  However, at night, the rocks are in dark colours and the lights are dim. Visitors can feel what hell is like up close.

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Following the walking trail, you are able to see a small pond. A small amount of hot water is demonstrated. You can see the bubbling and strong smoke of the water. Remember, don’t put your hands or legs into the water as it is around 130 degree Celsius. Be cautious!

Points to note before going there:


(1) Weather


To start off, the weather of Hell Valley is very different from that in the cities. Starting from October onwards, even though the ground is hot, Hell Valley is freezing. Bear in mind: bring a jacket with you. However, from April to September, the temperature is relatively higher. Pick the most favourable season to go there!

(2) Belongings


When you get closer to Hell Valley, there is a strong smell of sulfur. If you cannot stand this smell, please bring a face mask with you.

(3) Book a room


The views of Jigokudani keep changing from daytime to the night. If you want to experience how wonderful and spectacular it is, staying in a hotel nearby would be a good option for you.

Have a good time there and enjoy!

Destination: Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

AddressNoboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu

Transportation:


  • You can take a 15-minute bus or taxi ride from Noboribetsu JR Station
  • From Sapporo to Noboribetsu, it takes 1 hour and 10 minutes by taking express train (JR)
  • By taking bus from Sapporo, it takes 1 hour and 50 minutes to get there directly