HOME Hokkaido Noboribetsu / Lake Toya Explore the five types of "Live Springs" at the Dai-ichi Takimotokan in Noboribetsu Onsen
Explore the five types of "Live Springs" at the Dai-ichi Takimotokan in Noboribetsu Onsen

Explore the five types of "Live Springs" at the Dai-ichi Takimotokan in Noboribetsu Onsen

Update: 12 October 2018

The Dai-ichi Takimotokan is a well-established hotel in Noboribetsu Onsen. Its hot spring baths are fed by geothermal water from five springs having half of the 10 mineral qualities of spring water found in Japan. You can enjoy the view of Hell Valley, a popular sightseeing spot, while relaxing in the hotel’s Onsen Heaven.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan overlooks the desolate landscape of Hell Valley

Noboribetsu Onsen got its start from the Aisai no Yu (Hot Spring of the Loving Wife)

Dai-ichi Takimotokan is next to Hell Valley, a famous sightseeing destination in Noboribetsu Onsen which is located about an hour drive from the New Chitose Airport. Established in 1858, it has the oldest history of any hot spring inn in Noboribetsu Onsen.

The founder, Kinzo Takimoto, heard about a natural hot spring in the mountains that was effective in treating skin disorders. His wife had a serious skin disorder, so he took her deep into the mountains and built a small hot spring cottage.

Kinzo Takimoto. He was originally a carpenter in Edo before moving to Horobetsu (presently located within Noboribetsu City) where he cooperated in the construction of a transportation business and also an inn. (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The beneficial effects soon became apparent in his wife who grew better day by day.
Word spread of the healing powers of the hot spring and that led to the building of a hot spring inn and the start of his hot spring operations. As rumors spread even more widely about the beneficial effects, the number of visitors steadily increased which led to continued renovation and expansion of the inn. This in turn led to roads being built to the spring to enable horse-drawn carriages to reach it and this laid the groundwork for the development of Noboribetsu Onsen.

A photo of Dai-ichi Takimotokan taken circa 1935 (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

Today about 2.8 million people visit Noboribetsu Onsen for sightseeing every year. It all began with the Aisai no Yu hot spring built for the wife of Kinzo Takimoto, founder of the Dai-ichi Takimotokan.

The Kinzo no Yu in the Dai-ichi Takimotokan is a reproduction of the bath used by the wife of Kinzo Takimoto (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The water quality of the Kinzo no Yu is slightly green in color due to its acidity. This is very good for skin conditions and can be enjoyed in the outdoor bath and other indoor baths, too.

Half of the 10 types of mineral water in Japan can be found here!

There are still more types of mineral water to be enjoyed at Dai-ichi Takimotokan!
The main features of Dai-ichi Takimotokan are the various types of mineral water, such as in Kinzo no Yu, and the large volume of water the springs produce. Five different types of mineral water flow from their sources in Hell Valley into the 35 baths for men and women inside the 5,000 square meter three-story hot spring annex.

The hot springs in Noboribetsu Onsen produce about 10,000 liters per day with the largest number of springs being in Hell Valley.

The representative mineral quality of the springs in Noboribetsu Onsen is such that visitors are certain to find the type they have been looking for. This white, ash color bath smells of hydrogen sulfide and is reported to be especially good for skin and female conditions. It is a sulfur spring.

Both men and women can enjoy both the outdoor and indoor sulfur spring baths. In this one you can lie back in it or have the spring water pour down over your shoulders (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The sulfur components give the bath its milky color. It is reported to be very good for external injuries and skin disorders (Glauber’s salt spring). After soaking for a while in the bath, when you get out your body will smell like sulfur.

The Kizu no Yu, bath for healing wounds, is located in the middle of the large indoor men’s bath. There is the same arrangement in the large indoor women’s bath, too (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

After enjoying the strong acidic compositions of such baths as the Bihada no Yu and Kizu no Yu, try a bath having a more neutral alkaline content. The Shokuen-sen (table salt spring) is rich in sodium and said to be good for neuralgia and sensitivity to the cold, being gentle to the skin.

The indoor men’s Atsu no Yu (hot water bath) which overlooks Hell Valley. The view is so inviting that you may catch yourself standing up tall to take it all in. The mineral content in this bath can be enjoyed in both indoor and outdoor baths for both men and women (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)
Hell’s Valley outside the windows. The view changes with each of the four seasons (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The bath tub of the Shokuen-sen is made of Japanese cypress which is soft to the skin and imparts an aromatic aroma of cypress. The temperature of the water is set slightly high at 45 degrees.

I dipped a foot into the Oni no Yu bath made with Japanese cypress, but it was so hot it almost felt like it was burning, however, slowly getting used to it, the hot water felt very soothing and relaxing (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

There are other baths in addition to the ones already mentioned such as the Sansei Midoriban-sen bath that is effective in treating atopic dermatitis and the Juso-sen (baking soda spring) which is popular for making horny skin soft and smooth. There are indoor men’s and women’s bath for each.
There are hot spring baths having different mineral compositions scattered throughout, so why not spend a day or two exploring all of them?

Two open-air baths having different mineral compositions. Enjoy both! (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

Dai-ichi Takimotokan has many types of baths in different shapes and sizes for your enjoyment. The temperature of the baths is controlled by the flow of natural hot spring water and not through recirculation. These natural hot springs are another one of Nature’s bounties!

The quality of the water in the many baths is maintained through experience and craftsmanship

The quality of the water in the many baths is maintained through experience and craftsmanship
The baths are open 24 hours a day and are carefully cleaned every day (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The Yumori (people who maintain the baths) are indispensable for keeping the many baths with their different mineral components in good condition. In addition to cleaning the mineral sediment that collects in the baths, Yumori also are responsible for maintaining the constant water temperatures in the baths as well as the volume and flow from the hot springs.

The Yumori Mr. Arukimachi talking about his work

Mr. Arukimachi said the hardest part of his job is maintaining the proper water temperature in the baths. The hot springs flow naturally so the amount of flow and temperature is not the same for them all. For example, when it rains for several days, the temperature of the spring water drawn from Hell Valley is lower than usual and after several sunny days it becomes hotter.

The staff of Yumori who strive to always keep all the baths clean and “alive” with the natural spring water. Currently the hotel employs 12 Yumori like Mr. Arukimachi. (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

None of the Dai-ichi Takimotokan baths are artificially heated, so when the temperature of a bath drops below what it should be, more natural hot spring water is fed into it until the proper temperature is again reached and sometimes that can take much time. The duties of the Yumori requires years of experience and specialized skills to keep the seven types of 35 baths in perfect order.

Enjoy your time eating, shopping, and sipping the spring water during your stay

Enjoy your time eating, shopping, and sipping the spring water during your stay
[Top] The “Loving Wife pot made with Hokkaido-raised beef” and tender Hokkaido-grown corn in a broth made from the baking soda spring water [Bottom] A Loving Wife dish of Tokachi beef steamed with water from the baking soda spring. The ingredients are very tender. Both dishes are prepared at the Dai-ichi Takimotokan (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

Of course the greatest pleasure visiting a hot spring resort is in taking the baths, but one should also enjoy the cuisine offered. The buffet at the Dai-ichi Takimotokan offers a variety of dishes made with seasonal ingredients.

The Deluxe Set dinner course. There are four different types of dinner courses, the ingredients of each varies with the four seasons.
The Kinzo Crab Course. This is a dream come true for crab lovers! The ultimate in crab cuisine to be found in Hokkaido! (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

You can also have these exquisite courses served in your room or enjoy them in a banquet room.

The Grand Buffet offers a wide selection of dishes for your dining pleasure.

In addition to the rich selection of Hokkaido seafood, there are other delicacies as well to choose from (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The Wakuwaku-don is especially popular: a bowl of rice upon which you can put any of your favorite ingredients.

Preparing to dig into a Wakuwaku-don, only lightly covered with ingredients because I wanted to save room for the steak and crab!
I recommend the Kikizake Set; three types of Japanese sake. Sample these three types of sake brewed in Hokkaido.

After a hearty meal relax a bit back in your room and then either head to the baths again or go shopping!

A Japanese-style room. This is a standard room that can accommodate up to four people (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)
A barrier-free type guest room convenient for guests in wheelchairs as well as extended families (Photo: Dai-ichi Takimotokan)

The Yu no Machi gift shop is a short distance from the front desk and offers a selection of souvenirs and gifts. There is a large stairwell before it.

The Oni no Daikanabo is an automaton clock sitting in the middle of the stairwell and several times at night and in the morning on the hour an automated puppet show takes place

Continuing on for another three or four minutes you will arrive at the passageway leading to the hot springs annex. Just before entering the annex, there is a spot where you can sample mineral water from the springs.

The temperature of the water is warm making it easy to drink. Try it before you go into the baths!

After that you can enjoy lounging in the many baths to your heart’s content.

There are more baths in the Onsen Heaven facing the expanse of Hell Valley than you can enjoy in a single day. Start with the Loving Wife bath and enjoy as many more of the well-kept baths as you can.

Written by : Nobuhiro Kawashima

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

Share this article.