10 Best Hot Spring Resort Areas in Hokkaido (2023 Edition)
Soaking in an onsen is one of the activities many people look forward to in Japan, especially in the winter. Thanks to its pristine surroundings, Hokkaido boasts some of the best hot springs in the whole country! In this article, we cover the top 10 Hokkaido onsen according to the Japanese locals and explain just why they’re so loved. We also include our recommended places to stay for each of them in case you want to try the hot springs for yourself!
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Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost and largest prefecture by landmass. It draws throngs of visitors every year with its surreal natural beauty, which includes verdant forests and fluffy powder snow.
The weather stays cooler than the rest of Japan year round, with relatively mild summers and winters dropping as low as -20°C (-4°F), making dipping in an onsen an enticing option for travelers no matter the time of year.
But if you could only choose one season to visit, we suggest the winter from late November through early March, as that’s when you can truly enjoy the warmth of the hot springs and the gorgeous snow scenery!
10 Best Onsen Areas in Hokkaido
As Japan’s largest prefecture, there are many hot spring areas in Hokkaido that are worth a visit. Here are the top 10 onsen areas in Hokkaido according to data collected by Jalan, one of Japan’s premier hotel booking platforms.
Please note that the rankings below are based on data taken in November 2023, so it may not match what’s shown on the website now.
10. Shikotsuko Onsen
This charming hot spring resort town rests on the shores of Lake Shikotsu, offering a range of enjoyable water activities. Picture yourself canoeing on the captivating blue waters of Lake Shikotsu!
Of course, the hot springs at Shikotsuko Onsen also won’t disappoint. The water is packed with more minerals than your typical hot spring, ensuring a truly warming and relaxing experience for your entire body. Many say it will also make your skin incredibly smooth!
Though it’s not a big or incredibly famous hot spring resort area by any means, it’s popular with those looking for a cozy way to pass the winter.
・Recommended Hotel: Lake Shikotsu Tsuruga Resort Spa Mizu no Uta
9. Utoro Onsen
Situated near the Sea of Okhotsk, Utoro Onsen is popular with those who want to admire the famed drift ice or explore the UNESCO-protected Shiretoko Peninsula, known for its pristine natural beauty. The amazing seafood, caught in the nearby ocean, is another big draw.
Apart from joining a drift ice walking tour, we recommend making the best of your trip by picking an accommodation with a hot spring bath that has views of the Sea of Okhotsk. There’s something magical about watching the sun slowly set behind it.
・Recommended Hotel: Shiretoko Daiichi Hotel
8. Tokachigawa Onsen
Tokachigawa Onsen sets itself apart from other hot springs as a “moor” onsen. Its water source - the Tokachi River - hosts a wealth of marine plants whose minerals, along with other organic matter, get mixed into the water as it ascends towards the surface. The result is hot spring water with a brown tinge that’s extremely good for the skin. In Germany, it is actually a form of spa therapy!
Beyond its therapeutic waters, Tokachigawa Onsen also lets you witness other rare natural phenomena. If you visit in early July, you will be treated to fireflies illuminating the night sky. And between the peak winter months of January to February, you can see the Tokachi River covered in a mystical blanket of fog! Experience this sight at its greatest with a hot air balloon ride together with an English-speaking guide.
・Recommended Hotel: Kangetsuen
7. Niseko Onsen
Over the years, Niseko has earned a stellar reputation as one of Japan’s premier destinations for winter skiing and snowboarding thanks to its exceptional powder snow. Given the physical demands of these sports, it only makes sense that the area has many public hot springs that will help alleviate fatigue and soothe aching muscles!
Of course, there’s more to Niseko than winter sports. Kayaking, canyoning, ziplining - no matter what time of the year, there’s an exciting outdoor adventure waiting for you. And when you come back to your hotel at the end of the day, chances are there’s a steaming hot onsen bath you can jump into! It’s the place to be if you’re someone who enjoys some outdoor fun with a side of luxury.
*Check out our curated list of hotels in Niseko with easy access to its ski resorts!
6. Sounkyo Onsen
Nestled in a gorge, Sounkyo Onsen at first looks quaint as it is surrounded by majestic cliffs stretching as far as the eye can see, but it’s actually the largest hot spring area in northern Hokkaido!
Consider visiting from late January to early March when its famous waterfalls, Ginga no Taki and Ryusei no Taki, transform into awe-inspiring icefalls. After you’ve experienced enough of the chilly yet wondrous sight, warm up in a hot spring bath.
Sounkyo Onsen is also an excellent place to visit outside of winter. It is located within Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan’s largest mountain national park, so there are plenty of opportunities to spot rare high-altitude flora and flora.
Mt. Kurodake is also close by, offering enchanting nature views in every season such as cherry blossoms in the spring and gorgeous reds and golds in fall.
・Recommended Hotel: Choyo Resort Hotel
5. Yunokawa Onsen
Many find Hakodate City appealing because it houses Mt. Hakodate, whose night view is often hailed as one of the top three in Japan. If you’re interested in seeing it, avoid the wait for the busy cable car ride to the top by booking a sightseeing bus tour.
Another reason to visit Hakodate is Yunokawa Onsen, which is conveniently located near the Goryokaku and Motomachi downtown areas. It is one of Hokkaido’s three most famous hot spring resort areas, attracting many visitors across the world, and has long been celebrated for its therapeutic waters.
Several of the accommodations at Yunokawa Onsen have views overlooking the Tsugaru Strait which separates Hokkaido from Honshu, Japan’s main island. If you visit in the summer or autumn, you may just see the famed lights of squid fishing boats from the windows!
But even if you visit outside of these seasons, there’s enjoyment to be had - for example, admiring the bathing Japanese monkeys at the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden from December to mid-May!
・Recommended Hotel: Hakodate Yunokawa Onsen Umi to Akari Hewitt Resort
4. Akanko Onsen
Hokkaido is home to the Ainu tribe, whose indigenous ways of living are fascinatingly different from the rest of Japan. For travelers who wish to immerse themselves in both onsen relaxation and Ainu heritage, Akanko Onsen allows you to kill two birds with one stone!
During the day, take the short journey to Akanko Ainu Kotan, a stunningly recreated Ainu village. From admiring the traditional crafts to watching traditional dances performed by Ainu natives, it offers plenty of ways to dive into Ainu culture. And at night, soak in a hot spring bath while admiring the view of Lake Akan. No matter the season, it will entrance you with its fleeting beauty.
We love this hot spring area (and the lake, and the village!) so much that we covered it more than once:
Enjoy the Culture of Japan's Indigenous Ainu People: A 5-Day Stay in Hokkaido's Akanko Ainu Kotan
Discover Ainu Heritage and its Coexistence With Nature at Lake Akan
Spend a Memorable Winter Adventure Among Japan’s Indigenous Ainu Traditions at Snowy Lake Akan
Explore Japan’s Hidden Gem, Lake Akan Throughout the Year and Discover Its Seasonal Charms
3. Jozankei Onsen
If you want convenience but with less of the hustle and bustle of city life, consider staying a night or two at Jozankei Onsen. This Hokkaido hot spring resort area is nestled within the scenic embrace of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, just an hour’s drive from Sapporo City.
It offers nature in abundance - cherry blossoms in the spring, fresh greenery in the summer, vibrant foliage in the fall, and enough snow to make way for more than one ski resort in the winter. Skiing isn’t the only way to enjoy this winter paradise - ever consider exploring by raft boat?
The hot spring water at Jozankei Onsen contains lots of sodium chloride, which means it’s great at warming up the body. What better way to recharge after a day of fun outside than soaking in it and admiring the gorgeous view?
We particularly recommend visiting in the fall or winter for the amazing mountain scenery, but honestly, Jozankei Onsen is a visual feast year round!
・Recommended Hotel: Jozankei View Hotel
2. Toyako Onsen
Toyako Onsen lets you enjoy breaktaking views of the serene Lake Toya, the third largest caldera lake in Japan, and the surrounding mountains. Its hot spring water source comes from one of these mountains, Mt. Usu, which has erupted at least four times over the last 100 years. That might sound scary, but it is safe enough for you to take a cable car straight to its top! With all the volcanic activity, you just know that the water is especially rich in minerals that will nourish your skin.
While the nearby Lake Toya provides a wealth of opportunities to have fun and enjoy the great outdoors all year round, we recommend staying over at Toyako Onsen during the winter season from November to March. The area is relatively warm by Hokkaido standards with little snow even in the winter, making it suitable for those who just can’t stand the cold but still want to experience an outdoor hot spring in winter. There’s also an illumination event where 400,000 lights shine upon the center of the hot spring resort area, offering a romantic contrast against the dark Lake Toya.
・Recommended Hotel: Toyako Manseikaku Hotel Lakeside Terrace
1. Noboribetsu Onsen
Noboribetsu Onsen stands out among all the rest of Hokkaido’s hot spring areas with its nine different types of onsen water, making it easy for anyone to soak all day long. It also helps that the resort area is surprisingly close to the big cities of Sapporo and Hakodate, so if you don’t have the time or budget to stay over at a hotel or inn, you can still come for a day soak.
Perhaps the top thing to do here is visit Jigokudani Valley, created by the volcanic activity of the nearby Mt. Hiyori. Many of the hotels and inns at Noboribetsu Onsen get their hot spring water from this valley. One look will have you gasping at just how powerful nature can get. Visit in the fall around October to admire red foliage against the white steam of the valley.
・Recommended Hotel: Dai-ichi Takimotokan
What’s Your Favorite Hokkaido Hot Spring Area?
There’s no better way to take care of your body after a long day of travel than soaking in a hot spring. Hokkaido has many onsen resorts which all have something a bit different to offer. If you can’t come to a decision even after checking the above ranking, why not just zero in on the various cities you wish to explore first and then check what hot springs are near them? Regardless of which you choose, you can expect spell-binding scenery, rejuvenating waters, and top-notch hospitality!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.