One of the hardest tasks on every vacation is planning for accommodation. Save for the ideal scenario of living in a well-equipped and energy-sufficient van, which is rare in Japan, hotels, ryokans or the up and coming Airbnb scene are the way to go. That said, outside of Sapporo city, Airbnbs are hard to come by in the vast, sparse land of Hokkaido. Hotel Izumi is one of the simple, beautiful and affordable options in Noboribetsu.
As we had the convenience of a car, going to places relatively inaccessible from stations was not an issue. Hotel Izumi was one of the inexpensive options available near Noboribetsu, where the Jigokudani Hell Valley hot springs and bear park are. Situated right along the coastline that faces Honshu, the main island of Japan, our room offered a spectacular view.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted with warm smiles and directions to our room and the onsen downstairs. It was really spacious for two people and had some entertainment in the forms of a television, Japanese wooden puzzle block game, and a tea set. We were also given sets of yukata or Japanese bathrobes. We could not wait to hit the onsen, or hot spring baths, especially the outdoor one! Sitting in 40°C hot spring water while it’s snowing is the best feeling ever.
Dinner at Hotel Izumi was also one of the highlights of the stay. We were not expecting a kaiseki course meal given the price of dinner but were pleasantly surprised. The table was laden with numerous small dishes that were too pretty to be eaten. Chawanmushi or steamed egg custard, a seasoned steamed prawn with lotus root relish, and a chirashi bowl were some of the other dishes in the course. There was also a main dish of sukiyaki, or meat hotpot, dipped in a raw egg and dashi sauce. We played with the puzzle blocks, watched Japanese television game shows, and slept soundly on the fluffy futons.
The onsen was only closed a couple of hours in the morning for cleaning so we went for another round of warm mineral bliss bright and early. Breakfast was very much authentically Japanese. Tea poured over seasoned fish roe and rice, fermented natto beans, tamagoyaki style eggs and mozuku seaweed were some of the Japanese delicacies that certainly jolted my palate.
Overall, it was a superb stay at Hotel Izumi for great onsen, great food and at a great price. Driving there is definitely recommended as it is not very close to the station and sits on a small hill. Three cheers for great views, food and onsen!