Road Trip in Hokkaido #3 : Jozankei, Hokkaido's Fairy Tale Town

And so the road trip goes on... After shredding the legendary Japow snow in Kiroro, Kokusai and Teine Ski resort, we've indulged ourselves in one of the most typical Japanese onsen on Hokkaido island...

Road Trip in Hokkaido : Jozankei Onsen

Onsen is a Japanese term for naturally formed hot springs found around volcanic areas, believed to contain healing powers due to their numerous mineral and chemical elements. Traditionally, they were almost exclusively outside baths in which men, women and even animals (monkeys!) all bathed together, however gender separation has ensued. There are over 3.000 onsen throughout Japan, and Jozankei holds some of the most lovely...

Jozankei is a hot spring village lost in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, an hour from Sapporo. In winter, the atmosphere is particularly special, as the hot steam blowing out of the ground contrasts with the snow-covered landscape.

In this very town, we have lived one of the most beautiful experiences since we started traveling 4 years ago...


Jozankei, a town out of a fairy tale...

Jozankei, a fairy tale town - Hokkaido road trip

Japan public transports are convenient, thus going to Jozankei is really easy, either you're departing straight from Kokusai ski resort for an after-ski bath of from Sapporo.

"Jozankeeei!" -the bus drops us in the middle of the town then carry on its journey, then suddenly, pure silence. A little creek traverses the town, covered with perfectly shaped snow mushrooms. We can perceive above some smoke coming out of the park. We walk there, to discover a place out of a fairy tale: it's an natural hot spring with streams, a pond and a stunning waterfall, right in the middle of the park. We instantly fall into the spell of the place. A couple of Japanese are seated, trousers rolled up to the knees, dipping their feet in the hot water while it's zero degrees outside. You said romantic?

Hoheikyo Onsen, a surreal place lost in Hokkaido

Hoheikyo Onsen, Hokkaido Road Trip

Hoheikyo-Onsen is located just past Jozankei town -you can get there either by bus or taxi. From outside, it looks like a regular Japanese onsen, but believe me, it will surprise you. It's a must do during a road trip in Hokkaido. PHOTO©HOHEIKYOONSEN

Imagine yourself, nude under the snow, gently dipping your sore muscles into pristine and supreme hot springs...

The establishment features dark brown water, several inner onsen, and large, gorgeous open-air onsen with views of the hills. When I got outside, I was speechless -was it all real? I didn't know such a magnificent place could exist outside of my dreams. It's snowing, I'm walking nude in a tiny wooden footbridge, surrounded by the snow world. There are only few people, but the place is done in ways that you feel alone, with many recesses. This is so romantic, I feel like I'm on a fantasy movie...

Hoheikyo Onsen restaurant - Road trip in Hokkaido

I enjoy an hour resting in the hot baths outside and inside, whereupon I get a shower and go strech out and chill out in the relaxation room. As if the experience wasn't perfect enough, I go downstairs to meet G in Onsen Shokudo, an Indian restaurant that makes the most incredible naan breads and curries -delicious!