[Sapporo Hot Springs Travel Guide]

There are many hot spring resorts in Hokkaido, and although we would like to call it a "Hokkaido hot spring tour," it is quite a difficult task to visit all the different areas at once. We would like to enjoy them little by little. So, let's start by visiting Jozankei, Toyohirakyo, and Koganeyu, which are located in Sapporo City and are easily accessible from the city center.

For some people, whether or not they can reach their destinations by public transportation alone is a very important point when sightseeing in Hokkaido. The three hot springs introduced here can all be reached by the "Jotetsu Bus" route, so you can rest assured on that point. All of them have parking lots, so you can enjoy a drive and take a bath without worrying about the time it takes to get there. This time, I will try to introduce the routes imagining that you take the Jotetsu Bus from Sapporo Station, starting from Toyohirakyo Onsen, which is the farthest away from the city center, and then heading back toward Sapporo Station.

First, take the Jotetsu Bus from Sapporo Station, which will take you to Toyohirakyo Onsen in about one and a half hours. Passing through the urban area of Sapporo, which spreads out in a grid pattern, the scenery gradually changes, and before you know it, you are surrounded by mountains. Such an hour and a half journey somehow seems to prepare you for the feeling of leaving your daily life little by little. I was personally very much looking forward to visiting Toyohirakyo Onsen, as it was recommended by all my friends who had visited there. And they all said the same thing: "Indian curry." I could not connect the onsen and Indian curry, so I had a puzzle on my mind, but as soon as I entered the building with the sign for Toyohirakyo Onsen, I could smell the delicious aroma of curry. The kitchen of the cafeteria was made of glass, and inside, authentic artisans were baking naan and simmering curry. In the corner of the kitchen, there is a millstone for grinding buckwheat noodles, and you can even enjoy authentic Jyuwari-soba. And this is a hot spring, which is a very mysterious world. Toyohirakyo Onsen is a day-trip bathing facility only. The hot spring is one of the few in Japan that is 100% free-flowing, with no cold water used to control the temperature or to reheat the water, and the spring water is poured directly from the ground into the bathtub. The snowy view from the open-air bath in the midst of nature was truly amazing and left me speechless. I would go back again and again to enjoy the spectacular seasonal baths and the rich repertoire of Indian curry.

With a lingering sense of nostalgia for Toyohirakyo Onsen, I boarded the bus and arrived at Jozankei Onsenkyo (hot spring village) in about 10 minutes. Jozankei Onsen is probably the most well-known of the hot springs introduced here. It is one of the three most famous hot springs in Hokkaido, along with Noboribetsu Onsen (Noboribetsu City) and Yunokawa Onsen (Hakodate City), and boasts a history of over 155 years since its opening in Keio 2. The name "Jozankei" was taken from the name of "Bisen Jozan," an ascetic monk who laid the foundation of this hot spring. Although now only accessible by car or bus, between 1913 and 1969, a railroad line called "Jozankei Railway Line" ran between downtown Sapporo and Jozankei for the purpose of transporting tourists and freight such as lumber and ore. In its heyday, the line offered "moon-viewing trains" that departed at night and included a round-trip ticket, a bath ticket, beer, soybeans, and edamame (soybeans). What an attractive set! In Jozankei, there is a legend of kappa (water imps) and a kappa character named "Kappon," and kappa statues can be seen everywhere in the town. It may be fun to stroll around the hot spring resort looking for kappa. In addition, new cafes and stores have recently opened in the area, offering a new aspect of Jozankei other than just hot springs, where you can enjoy special dishes and sweets in a beautiful natural setting.

After leaving the hot spring resort of Jozankei, a 10-minute bus ride will take you to Koganeyu Onsen. Koganeyu Onsen has two bathing facilities, both of which are open for both one-day bathing and overnight stays. I went to "Matsunoyu" this time. In the open-air bath, a mountain loomed in front of me, and it looked as if a deer might come out at any moment. It was a very quiet time, listening to the murmuring of the river below and the chirping of birds, while gazing blankly at the clouds slowly flowing by. The restaurant offers an extensive menu of about 80 different kinds of food, so after taking a bath, you can sit on the tatami mats and enjoy a delicious meal, the ultimate luxury. And when you visit Koganeyu Onsen, be sure to visit the Sapporo Ainu Culture Exchange Center Sapporo Pirikakotan next door. The Ainu people's traditional clothing and folk tools are on display, most of which you can hold in your hands. I feel that there are many discoveries to be made that cannot be made simply by looking at them across a glass case.

Now, we are left with a bus trip of less than one and a half hours from Koganeyu Onsen to Sapporo Station to conclude this travelogue of Sapporo yumeguri. This has been a bit long, but thank you for staying with us until the end. We hope you enjoyed the atmosphere at least a little. We hope you will visit us again.

Otaru Showroom