Introducing Noboribetsu Onsen
Near the south coast, Noboribetsu Onsen is a busy little hot springs town with everything more or less clustered tightly together along a narrow, winding street in a valley surrounded by mountains.
The rejuvenating water originates from the steaming and hissing Jigoku-dani just above the village. At the entrance to Jigoku-dani is the Noboribetsu Park Service Centre, which does a good job of introducing you to this volcanic wonderland. You can pick up English brochures and maps here, and it is the starting spot for a number of good nature trails.
Noboribetsu is very serious about its baths, which received great fame when the town was designated as a health resort for injured soldiers following the 1904–5 Russo-Japanese War. You can have a bath at just about all the hotels without staying, with prices ranging from ¥390 all the way up to ¥2000.
While you're wandering around the village, keep an eye open for an interesting selection of 'demon statues' which supposedly bring success in business, study and love!
The Dai-ichi Takimoto-kan is a superb choice as a place to stay with an English website explaining all the options. A long history is complemented by 'hot spring heaven'.
Those on a budget will love staying at the Shōkōin temple. Not many temples look like a three-storey green office building, but this one does! The entrance is on the ground floor, the temple rooms are on floor two, and the priest's wife runs a minshuku on floor three. You'll have to head out for meals, but the tatami rooms are clean, the onsen is open 24 hours and there is wireless internet. Bring your own towel. The temple is also known locally as Kannon-ji (観音寺).
JR Noboribetsu Station is 15 minutes away (¥330) by bus, down on the coast. Trains run on the JR Muroran line to Hakodate (¥6700, 2½ hours), Sapporo (¥4360, 1¼ hours), and JR Tōya Station (¥2650, 35 minutes).
Buses run frequently between Noboribetsu and Sapporo (¥2100, two hours).