Have you ever heard of this amazing sightseeing spot in Noboribetsu?

There’s a city in Hokkaido called Noboribetsu, which is a famous hot spring resort known for its Jigokudani, or Hell Valley. A rocky, hilly expanse dotted with natural hot steam vents constantly belting smoky-looking steam, Jigokudani looks like what would be the aftermath of a battle in Dragon Ball.

While this scenery is undoubtedly cool, apparently there’s an even better place in Noboribetsu that is well-known to locals but often missed by tourists. Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa, while on a recent trip to Hokkaido, learned this from a taxi driver named Masanori Ishida, who also previously gave Seiji a stellar recommendation for the best seafood in Noboribetsu.

On the way to Jigokudani, Ishida gave him the lowdown.

“It’s about 20 to 30 minutes by foot beyond the valley, so it’s not as famous as Jigokudani, but it’s one of the world’s biggest natural hot springs. It’s a magnificent hot spring with a circumference of one kilometer (0.6 miles) and a depth of 20 meters (65 feet). I think it’s way more impressive than Jigokudani.”

As he explained this, Mr. Ishida turned the taxi onto a road that climbs into the mountains overlooking Jigokudani and leads to Lake Oyunuma. After they passed through a forest the trees opened up to reveal a parking lot. And beyond that…

An incredible, steaming lake!

The water was slightly cloudy, and with the steam rising from its surface, the turquoise lake looked mystical, like a bathing spot for the gods.

And it could only be used by gods, with surface temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and deep-water temperatures as high as 130 degrees Celsius (266 Fahrenheit). Humans would certainly start to cook at those temperatures!

This was just as impressive as Jigokudani. It was quite a big lake, but the shores were barren of vegetation. When Seiji climbed to the observation point, he felt like he’d stepped into another world. It definitely looked like a scene from another world.

There were some tour buses stopped in the parking lot, so obviously some tourists know about the place, and with an attraction of this kind of scale, it should be on the tourist information boards. When Seiji later returned to the Noboribetsu downtown area, he checked out the maps and…

It was there, but so easy to miss, especially beside the panorama boards of Jigokudani. Oyunuma was granted just a teeny little bubble on the great expanse of the board, and so high up, Seiji couldn’t even really see it. “No one would know to go there simply based on this information board!” Seiji thought. It was quite a shame.

Seiji couldn’t help but be grateful to Mr. Ishida for this little-known pro tip. We’ve learned countless times that asking local taxi drivers for their recommendations almost always yields great results, so we won’t be stopping any time soon!

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