Noboribetsu Onsen is a veritable department store for hot springs lovers, with many different kinds of springs bubbling forth from one of the best onsen regions in Hokkaido. Located in Noboribetsu City, Hokkaido, it is overflowing with sights to see, from Jigokudani (“Hell Valley”) with its spouting gas and high-temperature onsen to the century-old hot spring pond “Taisho Jigoku” and the giant hot spring pond “Oyunuma.”

One spot you don’t want to miss is the Oyunuma Natural Footbath, a shallow stream that flows with natural hot water.

My feet have taken me to many onsen throughout Japan, but never had they seen a whole river flowing with natural hot water, so I grabbed a group of reporters and headed up to Hokkaido to check it out.

We stopped our car at a nearby parking area and walked up a difficult mountain trail. After a 20-minute walk, we arrived at a river the color of ash; indeed, we had found the Oyunuma Natural Footbath. We went on a Saturday, so loads of tourists were already soaking their feet and feeling great.

The water was surprisingly hot, and the gravelly rocks in the streambed hurt my feet, though rocks of just the right size stimulated my feet and felt like a genuine reflexology session.

We soaked in the footbath for a few minutes and then headed upstream. We waded into water more than 50 centimeters deep, and, though I had carefully rolled up my trousers, they got wet. The water was definitely deep enough to make me think of stripping naked and taking a regular hot spring bath, but the river was flowing so hot that it was definitely best as a footbath only.

We spent about an hour enjoying the footbath, and the warmth stayed with us for three hours afterward. What else can you expect from a completely natural onsen? It probably stuck out even more because we came from faraway Tokyo.

It’s still the season for traveling, and the natural footbath is still teeming with tourists. Still, this 100% natural onsen set in the midst of boundless nature is sure to clear away everyday fatigue in a jiffy.

Pictures: RocketNews24