Our sojourn in Niseko is drawing to a close. Today we depart Hokkaido for a flying visit to Tokyo. Monday morning we will be back in hot, sweltering Sydney. Talk about extremities in weather conditions. Moving from close to minus 20 C to plus 36 C or more in a matter of days. We have been following the news at home. Its hard to fathom here in snowbound Niseko that bushfires are raging in Australia. Our thoughts are with the wonderful volunteers from the Rural Fire Service and we hope and pray they will have success in keeping the fires in control. There is a total fire ban across much of the eastern seaboard in Australia today as temperatures soar yet again.
During this visit I’ve focussed on the wonderful food available here in Hokkaido. We’ve shared many memorable meals. Its been a whirlwind of fabulous food and great company. A visit to Hokkaido, however would not be complete without a visit (at least once) to an onsen.
Onsens are natural thermal springs, rising from deep within the ground. They are renowned for their therapeutic qualities. Niseko is famous within Japan for its abundance of natural onsens. There are many to choose from in the village and its surrounds. These thermal baths are a wonderful way to relax and rejuvenate tired muscles after a hard days skiing or snowboarding.
For its sheer natural beauty one of my favourites is The Green Leaf Onsen, pictured above. It consists of a series of beautiful natural rock pools. True to Japanese tradition it has separate indoor and outdoor pools for men and women. Situated in the Green Leaf Hotel it also offers spa and dining facilities for its guests. Imagine unwinding in a steaming outdoor rock pool amidst the falling snow. It’s a truly europhic experience.
Accessed by road or even on skis! From underneath the Niseko Village Gondola. Just follow the trails almost to the bottom of the hill. It is well sign posted and well worth a visit. If you reach the base of the gondola station at The Hilton in Niseko Village you have skied too far. You then have two options. Visit the excellent onsen at The Hilton. Or take a short ride on the Community Chair also at the bottom of the gondola station. Veer left down the hill as you disembark. A word of warning. After a soothing onsen you probably won’t feel like skiing home. If you don’t have a car, there is always the local bus or taxi service.