Ikoino Yuyado Iroha Onsen (formerly Niseko Ikoinomura) is a quiet and relaxing onsen found in a hotel at the base of Niseko Annupuri Ski Resort. If you are staying in Annupuri then this is a great onsen to head to at the end of a day of skiing as it is conveniently located right near the base of the mountain.
Like most Japanese onsens, the baths are segregated into men's and women's. As you enter the hotel lobby you will see the vending machine where you can buy your tickets on the right as well as lockers to put your shoes in so you can change into the supplied slippers. You then hand your ticket in at reception and get your rental towels if needed. Then it's only a short uncomfortable walk in the slippers to the onsen before you can get rid of the annoying slippers that appear to be made for giants.
This is where you must split up into genders- men are on the left and ladies on the right. The changing room is a wide open space with lots of lockers for you to put your belongings into and once you're naked it's off to the baths. This onsen supplies shampoo, conditioner and body soap for you to wash with before you head into the baths.
There are 2 main baths to choose from-1 inside and 1 outside. The inside bath is split into two and is a comfortable place to begin your soaking with a bit of a view out the windows, but the outside bath is really where you want to spend most of your time. The outside bath here is one of the better ones as it is surrounded by snow capped boulders and trees and has a view out to Mt Moiwa depending on how high the snow banks are. There is a bench in the bath to sit on and from it you get a view of the skiers coming down the ridge of Moiwa Ski Resort and if the snow is falling it is a nice refreshing contrast while you sit in the hot bath. The walls aren't very high looking out over the forest though which is great for the view but I'm sure in the summer people wandering through it might get a glimpse of you if you're parading around the bath! Once you've finished soaking there is also a sauna and a small cold plunge pool so you can start the soaking process again. There is also a shallow bath for you to lie on your back in which I could definitely fall asleep in.
Once you've had enough you can head back into the changing room to get dressed where you will also find coin-operated massage chairs and foot massagers as well as hair dryers and facial products including cleanser, moisturiser and what I think was toner. There is also a relaxation room outside the onsen area with massage chairs and tatami mat seating areas where you can meet your loved ones. The hotel has a cafe and you can get a deal which includes a meal and an onsen for a reasonable price from the ticket machine at the entrance.
Entry to the Onsen is ¥800 for adults and is open to day visitors from 12.00-22.00. I visited at 15.00 and it seemed like I was the first person to use the onsen on the women's side. I pretty much had it all to myself for most of my visit so it's perfect for a quieter onsen experience than some of the other onsens in Hirafu. Access from other parts of Niseko is easy, as the hotel is the last stop on the Niseko United Shuttle Bus line so you can get here from Hirafu for free if you have a valid all mountain lift pass.
Ikoino Yuyado Iroha Onsen is well worth a visit if you want an onsen experience that not only includes an amazing outdoor onsen that you can see a mountain from but also to possibly even get it all to yourself. And then by the time you leave, you will feel as refreshed and relaxed as I did.