On'neyu-onsen Hot Spring
Prolific, pink-tinged azaleas bloom on the mountain range. The cuckoo clock with mechanical dolls is a must-see attraction.
Opened in 1890, the On'neyu-onsen Hot Spring is one of Hokkaido's leading hot spring resorts. It is in Rubeshibe-cho, a town in northeastern Hokkaido about 30 kilometers from Kitami, a city known for its peppermint production. The riverbanks are lined with hotels, and at sunset the hot spring area is bustling with people going out for walks.
The highlight of a visit to the area is the sight of the symbol of On'neyu-onsen Hot Spring, the world's biggest cuckoo clock. It symbolizes the town that developed as a center for lumber. The clock is 20-meters-tall and built in a spiral shape. Every day at midday, mechanical dolls appear and music plays. The hot spring is also famous for the Hokkaido purple azalea, which has been designated as a natural monument. In early summer the area is awash in purple and pink with as many as 280,000 flowers blooming on the azalea bushes along the riverbanks.
Nearby is a fox farm, where the 'kita-kitsune' (northern fox), one of Hokkaido's most famous animals, is bred. The rare silver fox can be seen there. Also, at the town aquarium and local museum can be found Japan's biggest freshwater fish, the 'itou,' a type of salmon known as the "phantom fish" due to it being designated as an endangered species.
From Tokyo:[Air]1h 40 min from Haneda to Memambetsu Airport.
From Abashiri:[Rail]1h 15 min to Rubeshibe Station by JR Sekihoku Line (limited express), and 20 min from Rubeshibe Station to On'neyu-onsen Hot Spring by bus.