Dai-ichi Takimotokan Building

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Review: Dai-ichi Takimotokan Noboribetsu Onsen (2023) [Japan]

 

PositivesNegatives
Splendid onsen experienceBreakfast can be crowded quick
Enjoyable kaiseki dinnerTowers descriptions could use more clarification
Gift shop provides grocery options for convenience
Bus to JR Noboribetsu is at the front of the hotel
Great location for Jigokudan exploration

Overall Rating

After my time in Sapporo and Monbetsu, I headed down to Noboribetsu to experience my first onsen hotel (ryokan). Staying in a ryokan and experiencing an onsen was one of my sought-after bucket list item to complete on my month-long trip to Japan!

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Booking

I booked this hotel for 1 night through the Capital One Travel portal. I used my Venture X‘s $300 travel credit to help recoup the total cost of $403. The rate includes a Superior room in the South Building. It’s a Japanese-style room with a futon bed and tatami flooring. The package comes with breakfast and a Kaiseki dinner. You may choose a Western-style room with a bed on a frame, but the occasion called for something different.

 

If you are interested in this hotel, please consider booking through Agoda. By completing your booking through here, you’ll help support the site at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much for your support!

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Location

The hotel is located in Noboribetsu and is also right next to Jigokudani or Hell Valley. This Jigokudani is not to be confused with the monkey park down in Nagano. The ones in Noboribetsu are valleys that produce the hot springs water for the resorts. To live up with the “Hell Valley” name, you’d see demon (oni) statues spread around the area. It’s worth a hike to explore the area, and Dai-ichi Takimotokan provide easy access.

Noboribetsu Jigokudani "Hell Valley"
Noboribetsu Jigokudani “Hell Valley”
Noboribetsu Oni Statue
Noboribetsu Oni Statue

To get here, there’s a bus from Sapporo and CTS airport that will take you directly to the hotel! Alternatively, you can use the JR line  and stop at Noboribetsu Station and then take the shuttle to the hotel from there. I overall recommend the direct bus from Sapporo or CTS as they take similar amount of time to get there, plus the bus is cheaper.

You may need to reserve a ticket, which I used Willer Express as a service to get to the hotel from Sapporo Station (eki mae). Simply show the e-mail to the bus driver to get in.

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Check-in

I arrived to the hotel from Sapporo at 3:30PM, and it rained throughout the 2-hour bus journey, and I quickly headed into the hotel after getting off in the station in front of the property.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Front Entrance
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Front Entrance

The process was quick and efficient.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Reception Desk
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Reception Desk
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Lobby
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Lobby

I was given a map of the resort. The South Building I was assigned to is the closest to the reception, which is where the Superior rooms are located in. West Building is the closest to the Grand Bath where the onsens are, but have the base rooms only. Frankly, it didn’t take much time to get to the Grand Bath from the South Building, so pick anywhere you’d like!

I was informed that checkout would be too crowded at 10-11am. I checked out at 8am, and it wasn’t crowded at all. You can keep your things behind in the hotel and pick them up later, in which I did to explore the Jigokudani area.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Map
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Map

An oni mascot will ocassionally be in the lobby area.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Oni Mascot
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Oni Mascot

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Superior Room

The first thing I noticed when entering the room is the shoe storage to the right of the entrance. Here, you’ll be presented with the sandals and slippers. You can use the tan and red slippers inside the hotel, but you may use the leather sandals outside while exploring Noboribetsu town. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to do exploring as it was heavily raining on the day of my stay.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Shoe Storage
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Shoe Storage

The Superior Room, Japanese-style is clean and open with light green decor that’s easy on the eyes. There are the more conventional chairs by the window.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Japanese Style
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Japanese Style

In the middle of the room lays a zataku (low table) with a small piece of bun with red bean paste filling.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Zataku
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Zataku

The closet contains the futon beds, in which a housekeeper would come set up during my dinner time.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Futon Closet
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Futon Closet
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Futon Closet
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room Futon Closet

The futon bed will be laid in the middle of the room, and the zataku will be moved away from the center. It was an adjustment sleeping on a futon when I’ve been used to regular beds. But, it’s still more comfortable than camping.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Futon Bed
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Futon Bed

Behind the taller chairs is a closet filled with yukatas. I highly recommend wearing them as they’re very stylish and comfortable. If the size doesn’t fit you, there are more options you can pick in the lobby.

Hilariously, I noticed a lot of people didn’t know how to properly knot the obi (sash) belt (including myself). So if you’re panicking about it, don’t worry, nobody knew how to either.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan In-Room Yukatas
Dai-ichi Takimotokan In-Room Yukatas

The view is sadly not too good from my assigned room.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room View
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Superior Room View

Moving back to the front of the entrance is where the tea sets are. There’s an instruction on how to make matcha tea.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Matcha Tea Set
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Matcha Tea Set
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Water Boiler
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Water Boiler
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Complimentary Water
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Complimentary Water
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Mini Fridge
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Mini Fridge

Bathroom is to the right of the entrance next to the shoe storage. It’s quite small like the ones from Sapporo’s Holiday Inn, but used space efficiently for everything needed.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bathroom
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bathroom
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bidet Controls
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bidet Controls
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bath Amenities
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Bath Amenities

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- The Grand Bath

The onsen bath is the main attraction of the hotel. It’s located on the northern end of the resort. It’s gender separated and open 24/7 for indoor baths. The open air baths open starting from 5am until midnight.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan The Grand Bath Elevator
Dai-ichi Takimotokan The Grand Bath Elevator

If you’ve never been to a Japanese onsen before, then you’ll have to know that you must go in fully nude. It’s also courteous to wash yourself off before jumping into the baths. There will be rows of showers inside the bath facilities. The bath offers an upfront view of Jigokudan. I had a really nice time in the hot springs bath, and even unbothered by the sulfur smell of once I’m in the open air bath area. It was even more pleasant with the rain pouring down.

Guests will be charged a 300 yen bath tax per night, even if they’re not bathing. You’d be making a grave mistake if you’re staying here without at least bathing once!

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Kaiseki Dinner

My rate comes with an included kaiseki dinner, and it was my first time experiencing it. The restaurant is called Yunosato on the 5th floorKaiseki is a multi-course meal where each dishes came one by one in colorful plates and presented beautifully. The menu is seasonal, and the restaurant provides a list of items you’d expect to get.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Menu
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Menu
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Plum Liquor Aperitif
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Plum Liquor Aperitif

The drinks are charged separately, but they were very reasonable! I had an iced tea and Hokkaido melon juice. The melon juice was delightful!

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Hors D'Ouvres, Snow Crab, & Sashimi
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Summer 2023 Kaiseki Dinner Hors D’Ouvres, Snow Crab, & Sashimi
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Beef Nabe Hot Pot
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Beef Nabe Hot Pot
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Vegetable Jelly
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Vegetable Jelly

The abalone side dish had a cute carrot shaped like kanabo, the weapon that the demons carry.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Abalone Side Dish
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Abalone Side Dish
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Tempura
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Tempura
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Pressed Sushi
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Pressed Sushi
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Dessert
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Dessert
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Fish Soup
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Kaiseki Fish Soup

I enjoyed everything that was offered, and I was glad to finally experience what kaiseki was like. My favorite item overall was the beef nabe hot pot. The broth especially, was very savory!

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Breakfast

The breakfast next day is on the 3rd floor restaurant. I headed down there during its opening at 6am. It was very packed! Once I got to the entrance, there were already lots of people lining up waiting for the restaurant to open. Breakfast is buffet style.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Restaurant
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Restaurant

The spread is huge, and is filled with items from places I wouldn’t expect like Myanmar and a few other Southeast Asian countries.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Steamed Rice
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Steamed Rice
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Western Options
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Western Options
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Grilled Fish
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Grilled Fish
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Southeast Asian Food
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Buffet Breakfast Southeast Asian Food
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast Infused Water Stations
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast Infused Water Stations
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast Pastries
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Breakfast Pastries

The breakfast was tasty, but admittedly I couldn’t spend much time on it while still feeling full from last night’s kaiseki dinner.

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Gift Shop

The hotel has a gift shop where you could buy souvenirs or regular groceries to bring inside your room. One interesting souvenir they sell is the Hokkaido king crab rice crackers. I wish I tried a sample of one of those, but they were quite pricy.

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Hokkaido Drinks
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Hokkaido Drinks

I used the opportunity to buy some interesting Japanese drinks, some of them are Hokkaido exclusive. I particularly enjoyed the banana milk coffee by Georgia.

 

Dai-ichi Takimotokan- Game Plaza

Down the escalator in front of the gift shop is the Game Plaza. There’s a giant golden kanabo statue that looked mighty impressive.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza

In the Game Plaza, you’ll find a typical Japanese game center experience with arcade games and crane games.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza

Some of the machines are very vintage, like this One Piece machine.

Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza One Piece Machine
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza One Piece Machine
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza UFO Catchers
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza UFO Catchers
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza Doraemon Figure
Dai-ichi Takimotokan Game Plaza Doraemon Figure

Supposedly, there’s a karaoke room as well, but I did not take a picture of it. These pretty much what I could cover in this resort for 1 night!

 

Conclusion

Dai-ichi Takimotokan made an excellent impression of my first-time experience in a Japanese ryokan. The onsen was a special experience and it was a great moment to try something out of my comfort zone. It felt like everyone was on equal footing when we stripped ourselves of our covers, and there was a sense of liberation from that.

The food was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the kaiseki dinner! The gift shop options were also interesting as well with drinks and snacks only sold in Hokkaido that you can buy. My only complaint is possibly the breakfast situation can be chaotic.

I wished I stayed for one more night to explore the Noboribetsu town since it looked lovely to walk on in the morning, and to also visit the Upopoy Ainu Museum that’s accessible by bus from the resort. I’d definitely return here again, and hopefully bring someone along one day to share the experience!

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