Top 15 Things To Do In Noboribetsu, Hokkaido During Winter

things to do in Noboribetsu
| 6 min read

Winter is a great time to visit Hokkaido. The second-largest island in Japan is known for its heavy snowfall and spectacular ski resorts. Visiting in winter can offer the best seafood to eat and the most exciting opportunities for outdoor activities and nature watching. Here are some ideas for things to do in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan in winter. These activities will provide you with hours of enjoyment during your trip to Hokkaido.

1. Yuzawa Shrine

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

There is an abundance of hidden gems in the seemingly sleepy city of Noboribetsu. Those who do not mind going out of their way and taking the road less traveled should pay a visit to Yuzawa Shrine. According to visitors, it’s a place that’s easy to miss due to its unassuming location, but it is one of the most peaceful retreats in the city. The magic of wintertime only accentuates what is already spectacular, making this shrine an absolute sight to witness.

Yuzawa Shrine

Address: 106 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan

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2. Charcoal Grill and Ramen "Isekura"

Source: Photo by Flickr user Jonathan Lin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s almost a crime to visit Japan and not have a filling bowl of steaming hot ramen. So, let’s avoid that misdemeanor and take you to one of the finest ramen restaurants in Noboribetsu, Charcoal Grill and Ramen “Isekura.” They are famous for their milky ramen and charcoal barbecue. It’s the perfect winter dinner after you’ve bathed in the hot springs of the city. Cup the bowl and sip on the tasty broth of authentic Japanese ramen!

Charcoal Grill and Ramen "Isekura"

Address: 71 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan

Opening hours: 6pm - 1am (daily)

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3. Sengen Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Are you wondering what else should fill your time in Noboribetsu? One of the non-touristy things you can do is visit the modest Sengen Park. It probably won’t be the typical landscaped park that we are used to, but it’s special in its own right. A geyser under the bridge, spouting steam every few hours, is its most distinguishing feature. If you’re on a quest to visit all the non-popular places in the city then you should definitely visit Sengen Park.

Sengen Park

Address: Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan

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4. Milky House

Source: Photo by Flickr user whity used under CC BY 2.0

One of the most exciting things in Japan for those who have sweet tooth is the plethora of dessert shops. Noboribetsu, of course, is no stranger to this. Take your cravings to Milky House and dive into their best selection of sweets. Dessert enthusiasts say that their zenzai is a must-try! In case you’re unfamiliar, zenzai is a sweet porridge and a variation of the traditional Japanese dessert shiruko, which is boiled azuki beans served with mochi. Head to the cafe and get yourself a nice bowl!

Milky House

Address: 60 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551, Japan

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

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5. Daikokuya Folk Art Shop

Source: Pixabay

It’s easy to think of Japan as a highly urbanized country, thanks to Tokyo, Osaka, and other major cities. Sometimes it gets lost on us that places like Noboribetsu exists. The city is home to some of the quirkiest shops we haven’t heard of, like Daikokuya Folk Art Shop. The store sells all kinds of cute souvenirs and novelty items. Make your way to this specialty gift shop and bring home the cutest little trinkets as a reminder of your fantastic time in Noboribetsu.

Daikokuya Folk Art Shop

Address: 60 Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Opening hours: 9am - 10pm (daily)

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6. Noboribetsu Bear Park

Noboribetsu bear park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BradBeattie used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Don’t know what to do in Noboribetsu? Start with the place to see the famous Hokkaido brown bear! The bears at this park are much different than the ferocious creatures you might encounter in the wild. You can buy fruit and feed it to these giant mammals. They are happy and always smiling and waving when you offer them treats. In addition to numerous brown bears, the park also features an exhibit where you can see tanukis (Japanese raccoon dogs). There is a small Ainu hut on location as well. Ainu craftsman sell goods and sculptures here, and they make great gifts and souvenirs.

Noboribetsu Bear Park

Address: 224 Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu 059-0551, Hokkaido

Website: Noboribetsu Bear Park Pamphlet in English

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7. Noboribetsu Hot Springs

Noboribetsu hot spring jigokudani
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This small Hokkaido town is famous for its onsens (Japanese hot springs). There are many hotels to stay in which tap into the relaxing springs of the area. A stay at an onsen hotel is a popular getaway for many Japanese couples, and when you stay in a hotel like the four star Dai-Ichi Takimotokan you will be able to relax in a nice bath that will soothe your tired muscles and weary bones. Hokkaido is known for its hot springs, and this one is one of the best.

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8. Jigokudani Volcanic Valley

Jigokudani in Mount Ontake
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alpsdake used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Jigokudani Volcanic Valley, or Hell Valley as it’s called in English, offers breathtaking natural beauty. If you want to know the where the warm water in your hotel onsen comes from, this is the place to visit. Steam and sulfur rises out of this volcanic valley with power and elegance. This Noboribetsu attraction is truly a phenomenal sight to see.

Jigokudani Volcanic Valley

Address: Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu 059-0551, Hokkaido

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9. Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village

Porotokotan houses 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Abasaa used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Ainu people are the aboriginal people of Japan, and they have a rich culture and way of living which is preserved to this day in Hokkaido. The Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village is a educational and fun way to learn about the customs of these hard-working indigenous people. Shiraoi is a mere 40 minute train ride from Noboribetsu. The museum teaches visitors about Ainu crafts, traditions, food, music, and dancing. There are Ainu folk dancing performances every 15 minutes, and visitors can even see Hokkaido brown bears and huntings dogs here.

Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village

Address: 2-3-4 Wakakusacho, Shiraoi-cho, Shiraoi-gun 059-0902, Hokkaido

Website: Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village

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10. Sanlaiva Ski Area

No trip to Hokkaido would be complete without a little bit of skiing. The northernmost island of Japan is known for its fresh layers of snow, which make skiing and snowboarding so spectacular. Seven courses are available at Sanlaiva, which cater to skiers of all experience levels. If you are in Noboribetsu, this is a great ski area to check out.

Sanlaiva Ski Area

Address: 27 Karurusucho, Noboribetsu 059-0551, Hokkaido

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11. Noboribetsu Date Historic Village

The Edo period is one of the most interesting time periods in all of Japanese history. If you want to know what life was like for a samurai in Hokkaido, then you should take a trip to the Noboribetsu Date Historic Village. This historic theme park highlights Japan’s ancient way of life. You can sample Japanese sweets like dango and mochi. There are also restaurants where you can enjoy udon tempura and other Japanese favorites.

Noboribetsu Date Historic Village

Address: 53-1 Nakanoboribetsu, Noboribetsu 059-0463, Hokkaido

Website: Noboribetsu Date Historic village

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12. Noboribetsu Marine Park

Noboribetsu marine park nixe
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This spectacular aquarium is a great place to visit for families. There is a real life march of the penguins at this marine park. The sight is awe-inspiring as you watch the penguins march through the park on parade. There are also dolphin and sea lion shows which will captivate guests of all ages. Japanese marine life such as sardines and jellyfish are also available for viewing in exhibits.

Noboribetsu Marine Park

Address: 1-22 Noboribetsu Higashi-machi, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Website: Noboribetsu Marine Park

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13. River Oyunuma Hot Spring and Foot Bath

A nice relaxing hike along the Oyunuma River will invigorate you. The pristine and warm water is also a popular place for visitors and locals to dip their toes. It’s like a miniature onsen. The tranquil water will flow over your tired soles, but it’s a nice reward after the mildly challenging hike on the path to the foot bath. This Noboribetsu hot spring must absolutely be included on your itinerary.

River Oyunuma Hot Spring and Foot Bath

Address: Noboribetsu Onsencho, Noboribetsu 059-0551, Hokkaido

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Nearby options

1. Lake Toya

130922 Lake Toya Toyako Hokkaido Japan03s3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

A mere hour away from Noboribetsu is the enchanted paradise of Lake Tōya. This volcanic caldera lake is located in Shikotsu-Toya National Park and is believed to be one of the most transparent lakes in the country. Right in the middle of the lake sits Nakajima Island, which houses the seasonal Tōyako Forest Museum. When you’ve seen all that Noboribetsu has to offer, take the time to visit this lake and acquaint yourself with its beautifully lush and hidden trails.

Lake Toya

Address: Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Abuta District, Hokkaidō, Japan

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2. Usuzan Ropeway

130922 Usuzan Ropeway Sobetsu Hokkaido Japan04s3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

One of the most popular activities near Noboribetsu is riding the aerial tram line that is Usuzan Ropeway. The lift goes over Mount Usu, an active stratovolcano in Shikotsu-Tōya National Park. Aside from Lake Toya, you’ll get to see the volcano’s central crater as well as Shōwa-shinzan, a volcanic lava dome. Riding the lift is a truly unique way to explore Hokkaido. Usuzan Ropeway is less than 50 minutes from Noboribetsu, so don’t pass up the chance to witness the spectacular vistas!

Usuzan Ropeway

Address: 184-5 Showashinzan, Sobetsu, Usu District, Hokkaido 052-0102, Japan

Website: Usuzan Ropeway

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Wildlife, onsens, and Ainu culture in Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu, Japan is a great place to visit in Hokkaido for a relaxing vacation. This town is known for its onsens, and the hotels all tap into the amazing hot springs of the region. You can enjoy a traditional Japanese bath and experience the fresh, warm water all over your body. It’s the most amazing experience you can have, and it’s even better after a long day of sightseeing or skiiing. These activities will make your trip to in the winter months a memorable one. Pair these activities with the best Noboribetsu food, and you’ll have a splendid holiday! Hokkaido is a beautiful place to visit in the winter, and the pristine scene of a Japanese snowscape makes for an ideal vacation spot.

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Frequently asked questions about things to do in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

1. What are the best outdoor activities in Noboribetsu?

Noboribetsu is a hotspot for fun outdoor activities in Hokkaido. To take advantage of this, make sure that you get to explore the intimidating Jigokudani Volcanic Valley and ski at Sanlaiva Ski Area.

2. What are the top attractions to visit in Noboribetsu?

A few of the top attractions in the city are Noboribetsu Date Historic Village and Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village. Of course, you can’t leave Noboribetsu without bathing in its hot springs.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Noboribetsu with kids and family?

Noboribetsu leaves no one behind. Families with children must absolutely see the bears at Noboribetsu Bear Park, meet the marching penguins at Noboribetsu Marine Park, and ride the aerial tram at Usuzan Ropeway!

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Rob Cramer is a Canadian writer and travel enthusiast who loves to sample exotic food from all over the world. He spends most of his time traveling throughout Asia sampling bizarre delicacies like...Read more

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