Review: Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu (Noboribetsu)
About Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu
A main reason why we chose Noboribetsu Onsen Town over Toyako with Lake Toya is because we wanted to stay in a ryokan. So, we ended up at Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu (滝乃家別館 玉乃湯) at Noboribetsu.
“A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn that originated in the Edo period (1603–1868), when such inns served travelers along Japan’s highways. They typically feature tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and other public areas where visitors may wear yukata and talk with the owner” – Wikipedia
Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu (“Tamanoyu” 玉乃湯 ryokan) should not be confused with Takinoya (滝乃家), a high end onsen hotel in Noboribetsu.
We were initially hesitant to go with Tamanoyu because the rooms have no attached shower (except for a room that was already reserved). Guests have to shower in the gender separated public baths and onsens – we were shy, even though I had showered in such public baths in other countries. That was with other girlfriends, and now I was alone, it was intimidating. In the end, it didn’t turn out to be a big issue for us. Find out why below.
photo: welcome drink and snack that was v delicious
This ryokan was superbly awesome that I don’t feel like sharing here. I want to be able to still get a room there easily. Hehe. It’s a well hidden secret, although hubby’s friend went there recently too. But then again, it’s too good not for me to share!
Our Stay at Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu
Access and Booking Information
We took the bus from Noboribetsu JR station to the bus terminal in the Onsen Town. Tamanoyu did not have any pick up service for us even though the reservation stated, “Pick-up service is available from Noboribetsu Onsen bus terminal”. It could be that the road condition was bad that day. It’s about 2-3 minutes by car and 5 – 10 minutes up the hill by foot. I think we took more than 10 minutes because of the slippery, wet and uneven conditions of the road/slope.
Room Type? Japanese-style room (wifi, breakfast and dinner inclusive)
When? One night on 29 Feb 2016
Paid? For 2 pax, ¥25,920 (S$325.30) and ¥300 (S$3.80) hot spring tax. (booked through japanican.com)
You may have to settle fees for infants separately at the establishment. A fee of up to ~JPY 4,000 per night per infant for use of facilities.
We saw this doll decoration in the lobby and also other places. Later we found out that it’s in celebration of Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day). Japan celebrates this special day on March 3 every year.
“Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.” – Wikipedia
When we arrived, we had to take off our shoes and put in a locker. Then, we had to choose the clothing to wear around the place – the onsen, restaurant, etc. Hubby chose the Samue (2-piece) while I chose the Yukata (1-piece). The outer wear jacket was to keep us warm in the cooler winter temperature.
We also had to decide on our breakfast time (7:30am, 8:00am, 8:30am) and dinner time (5:30pm, 6:00pm, 6:30pm) and the staff told us there’s only 5:30pm left. But we arrived late at Noboribetsu and so we insisted on 6:00pm. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have time to walk around the Onsen Town and Hell Valley. We were even slightly late at 6:00pm! Oops.
photo taken in the lobby set up
The Japanese-Style Room
There were touches of ‘Japanese traditional’ everywhere in Tamanoyu, from the lobby to the entrance to the room. And boy the futon beds were super comfortable. We fell asleep immediately, but also probably because we were tired and… read on!
Explore the room and open up the boxes to find trinkets and tea~ :)
Onsen at Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu
Although I read reviews complaining that there is only two small onsens for each gender, it didn’t deter me. I like the fact that Tamanoyu is not crowded anywhere – area, public bath and onsen – because of its limited number of rooms. Other hotels have too many tour groups crowding the public bath and onsen. True, there’s a greater variety of thermal waters, but I rather cosy up in a small onsen. It’s all about personal preference!
Tamanoyu’s public bath was empty most of the time when I was there, at most 2 people in the same space. So it was good. Furthermore, the onsen had many good quality toiletries to use – facial wash, body wash, shampoo, lotions, etc.
There were an outdoor onsen and an indoor onsen. For the outdoor onsen, I had to run naked in the cold and quickly dipped in the hot spring. The temperature change was shioook!
I regretted not taking photo – Tamanoyu doesn’t allow cameras inside, duh, but I had the whole place to myself for quite a number of occasion! But I always forgot to bring my phone down. I beat myself over it because I was blown over by a scene I like to share. The surroundings of the outdoor onsen was covered in thick snow. Imagine this place covered in snow:
Image credit: Rakuten
Okay, this photo doesn’t justify the beauty. You have to experience it yourself in winter. Sitting inside the onsen, I saw snow falling and melting the moment they touched the hot water. It was simply meditative soaking in the onsen.
Other onsens in Niseko and Otaru don’t meet the standards of this place – the public bath products, the hot spring water, etc. I didn’t think I could feel any difference between the different hot springs, but my skin was really smooth and I felt much better after a soak in Tamanoyu onsen compared to others. It’s not without reason that Noboribetsu is famous for its onsen.
p.s. please follow the onsen etiquette. there’s cold water outside the onsen entrance. you can drink it up before and after your onsen session.
Food at Takinoya Bekkan Tamanoyu
Please go for the breakfast and dinner plan. They have awesome food! I was initially apprehensive because I am not a raw food person. But the cooked food was enough to make me very full!
Most of the people, except us, were wearing their Yukata or Samue in the dining area. They had likely gone to soak in the onsen before dinner, so that they could go sleep after eating. Apparently this is the recommended way for onsen. Because you have to wait for an hour after eating before you can soak in an onsen.
We didn’t do it that way because I prefer to shower before I sleep and not stink… but after our dinner, we were really sleepy. Perhaps the heat from the food grill made us super sleepy, like in a sauna where the muscles become relaxed. At least for me. So it would have been perfect if we had soaked in the onsen and thereafter ate.
After dinner, we tried hard to stay awake for an hour. Then we went to the public bath and onsen to wash up and soak. The good thing was, by this time, we had the whole onsen to ourselves.
About the food, we get to choose the food sticks to grill over charcoal. For the other dishes, they were in two small servings. There were many dishes! Everything was served to your table. Overall, a delicious meal! I highly recommend you to get their meal plan. In this way, you can soak in the onsen, eat the good food and sleep!
The breakfast was less happening, but still delicious! Some dishes were served to your table while others were in buffet style. But it was still a filling meal that helped us survived our missed lunch later in the day as we left Noboribetsu. Read what happened after we checked out of Tamanoyu.
Rice Making Session
Oh there’s usually a rice making session at 9am, daily. The teacher serving our table during dinner and he had made sure I would go down for the session. But during breakfast, he told us the session was cancelled. Wondered why… but in any case we could not have make it because of certain unexpected circumstance. Read what happened after we checked out of Tamanoyu.
I really miss this place a lot – the onsen, the food, the futon. This place is highly recommended based on my experience. Would love to go back again.
Do you know of other highly recommended ryokans in Noboribetsu? Do tell us below or on our Facebook Page or Instagram.
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Travelled in February/March 2016
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