JAPAN AIRLINES

Onneyu Hot Springs Village, Kita-Kitsune (Northern Fox) Farm, Aquarium of the North Earth

Onneyu Hot Springs Village

Set along the Muka River in eastern Hokkaido, Onneyu Onsen is a cozy hot spring town boasting pristine water that flows directly from the source into each of the local baths. Established in 1899, the town’s hot springs have welcomed visitors from near and far for over a century, drawn by the baths’ anti-aging and beautifying properties. Soak in a warm bath and enjoy the luxurious sensation of smooth, silky water and the feeling of pure relaxation at any of the town's many alkaline simple hot springs.

Onneyu Onsen takes its name from the indigenous Ainu language—"onne" meaning large—and "yu", Japanese for hot water. While staying overnight is recommended for those looking to leisurely explore the town and fully experience its waters, hotels also open their doors to day trippers, with plans that include both bath access and delectable Japanese meals. For even more options, head beyond the city center to discover Takinoyu Onsen, beloved for the satiny texture of its water, and Ponyu Onsen, said to be effective in healing and treating skin conditions.

Visit in February and you'll be greeted not only by a blanket of brilliant white snow, but also twinkling light installations along the riverbanks—perhaps even a fireworks festival if you time your trip right. Come summer, the town bursts with energy as young people carry a portable shrine through the Muka River during the annual Mikoshi Kawatogyo parade, and the firefly festival sees people gather outside to seek out the warm and almost-mystical glow of these charming insects.

The area also lays claim to Japan's largest production of white runner beans, turning the landscape green and white when their flowers blossom in July. Visitors with a penchant for sweets should be sure to sample the wide range of desserts made from this so-called "Queen of the Beans", including Mont Blanc, castella sponge cake, and velvety mousse.

Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Onneyu Onsen is surrounded by three national parks—Daisetsuzan National Park, the UNESCO-registered Shiretoko National Park, and Akan-Mashu National Park—making it an excellent base for outdoor excursions. There's also fun to be had closer to town. Take a trip to Kita-Kitsune Farm, where you can get up close to adorable Hokkaido foxes as they play and lounge around the free-range facility. Then head to the Aquarium of the North Earth nearby and discover the island's range of aquatic life through intriguing displays—including the world's first frozen fish tank and an exhibit of rare tropical fish living in hot spring water.

Kita-Kitsune (Northern Fox) Farm

While Ezo red foxes can be found in the wild throughout Hokkaido, it's not often one gets the opportunity to see these delightful furry creatures up close. At Kita-Kitsune Farm, some seventy foxes roam freely—snoozing, grooming, and playing with each other—and visitors are welcome to wander through the wide enclosure, watching and interacting with the bushy-tailed inhabitants as they go about their day. Stroll along the 300-meter-long boardwalk and you'll find these cuddly creatures happily approaching your feet, unfazed by human company.

The foxes are joined by the Ezo-tanuki, a kind of stout Japanese raccoon dog unique to Hokkaido. Kita-Kitsune Farm is the only facility in Japan where you can find these two animals in peaceful cohabitation, a charming and one-of-a-kind scene. Although the tanuki are a little shyer when it comes to approaching visitors, you’re sure to smile at the sight of these fluffy nocturnal creatures enjoying a nap or lazing peacefully about the premises.

Before you leave, stop by the farm's store to pick up a fox-themed memento or some folk crafts. Whether in the depths of winter snow or the lush green grass of summer, Kita-Kitsune Farm remains open throughout the year, allowing you to get to know one of Hokkaido’s most charming inhabitants no matter the season you visit.

Aquarium of the North Earth

Discover the life that dwells below the surface of Hokkaido's magnificent rivers at this freshwater aquarium. Marvel at the Four Seasons Tank, the first of its kind worldwide, where resilient fish can be seen swimming under the frozen surface of a river during winter. Another highlight is the Takitsubo Tank, Japan's first water tank to reproduce a waterfall. Here, visitors can watch fish gliding around a dome-shaped basin beneath a torrent of cascading water. You won't want to miss the exhibit of mighty Sakhalin taimen (itou in Japanese), which have been bred to reach more than a meter in length, making them the largest in Japan.

Along with Hokkaido's chill-hardy species, the aquarium features a variety of brilliantly-colored tropical fish from around the world, living in tanks of hot spring water. Enjoy the sight of schools of bright blue damsel fish, giant pirarucu from the Amazon, and rare freshwater fish from Southeast Asia cruising through warm waters. Check out salamanders and other amphibians unique to Hokkaido before exploring the interactive zone, where you can even dip your hand into a tub of tiny fish eager to investigate your fingers. With a collection of intriguing exhibits and activities sure to please nature lovers young and old, the Aquarium of the North Earth is the perfect place to submerge yourself in the deep and fascinating world of Hokkaido's aquatic life.

Onneyu Hot Springs Village

Address:
Rubeshibe-cho Onneyu Onsen, Kitami, Hokkaido Prefecture

Notes

Access:
90 minutes by car from Memanbetsu Airport.
65 minutes by bus from Kitami bus stop to Onneyu bus stop.

Kita-Kitsune (Northern Fox) Farm

Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Last admission 30 minutes before closing.

Address:
52-1 Rubeshibe-cho Hanaoka, Kitami, Hokkaido Prefecture

Notes

Closed:
Open year-round

Admission:
Adults: 500 yen
Junior High School student: 400 yen
Elementary School student: 300 yen
Free for preschool age children.

Tel:
+81-157- 45-2249

Access:
20 minutes by bus from JR Rubeshibe Station to Michinoeki Onneyu Onsen bus stop.

Aquarium of the North Earth

Hours:
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (April to October)
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (November to March)
Last admission 20 minutes before closing.

Address:
1-4 Rubeshibe-cho Matsuyama, Kitami, Hokkaido Prefecture

Notes

Closed:
Spring holiday(April 8 to April 14)
New Year’s holiday (December 26 to January 1)

Admission:
Adults: 670 yen
Junior High School student: 440 yen
Elementary School student: 300 yen
Free for preschool age children.

Tel:
+81-157-45-2223

Access:
20 minutes by bus from JR Rubeshibe Station to Michinoeki Onneyu Onsen bus stop.

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