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Hokuryu Onsen

A small, pleasant onsen in the middle of Hokuryu

Hokuryu is a town enamoured with sunflowers. Not only can you find sunflowers on the light poles and sidewalks, but also on telephone booths and other random areas throughout town. Even the onsen in Hokuryu is a product of its excessive sunflower-embracing spirit, which includes a pool of sunflower water. Although it is a standard-sized onsen, Hokuryu Onsen includes some interesting features that make for a pleasant visit.

As a sub-prefecture of Hokkaido, Kitasorachi might not get a lot of attention compared to Hokkaido’s bigger cities of Asahikawa and Sapporo, but its pleasantries are found in the little things, such as the Arte Piazza in Bibai and this small onsen in Hokuryu. Hokuryu is east of Fukagawa, north of Sapporo, and like most things in Hokkaido, it is most easily accessed by car. Hokuryu onsen is also connected to a hotel and restaurant, neither of which I was able to experience this time around. The onsen is very affordable at only 500 yen per adult.

As I made my way through the typical crowd of elderly and middle aged ladies in the locker room, then showering myself off to a cleanly state of body, my first choice was the largest bath that contained the head of a dragon. The dragon head was built into the wall and dribbled hot water out of its mouth into a shallow pool. If you wish to massage your sore muscles and/or aching back/feet/hips after chilling in the dragon head pool, you have two options. You can meander over to a jet pool that puts water pressure on your back, or you can choose a small room where you sit down, press a button on the wall that releases a water stream from the ceiling, and feel the effect as it hits your neck.

Finally, the outdoor pool is my favorite. It is soothing, peaceful, and faced by a short patch of greenery. There is also a sitting/sunbathing deck, something I did not wish to use during the cold snowfall, but is probably nice in the summertime. Sitting in the warm outdoor pool, I felt completely content while the snow lazily fell on my head, and forgot about everything else.

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