Photo By: Melissa Larkins
Region
Hokkaido
Island
Hokkaido
Largest City
Sapporo
Population
5,682,950

Demon Fireworks of Noboribetsu

Is the path to hell paved with good intentions, or fireworks?

Located in Hokkaido, Noboribetsu is home of the famous Jigokudani or “Hell Valley,” a volcanic crater said to resemble hell on earth. But it’s just as scenic as it is hellish, and after you’ve enjoyed a hike during summer, the fiery devils appear at night for the Demon Fireworks of Noboribetsu.

With swirling steam wafting upwards to the heaves, one wouldn’t be surprised to find a few demons hiding in the rugged terrain or enjoying the naturally occurring hot springs and footbaths.

Photo by: Randy Lane A demon statue at Noboribetsu.

In fact, there are a total of 11 demon statues hidden throughout the volcanic landscape in Noboribetsu. You can even find blue demons near the path to the Oyunuma Natural Footbath, a steamy onsen babbling brook to rest your tired feet in. However, if these statues start to move, you’ve probably inhaled too much sulfur. But come summer, the real demons do come out to play.

There are 11 demon statues hidden throughout the volcanic landscape in Noboribetsu.

Known as Yukijin, these demons are the guardians of the Noboribetsu hot springs. Their role is to fight off bad spirits and bring happiness to people. When they’re not banishing evil with swords, or giant spiked batons, they’re doing so through summer fireworks display. To the sounds of drums, the Yukijin hold huge, gunpowder-loaded fireworks, and work in synchronisation to fight evil by moonlight. With the fiery rain falling around them against the backdrop of hell, it’s no wonder the Yukijin are good at their jobs.

Photo by: Melissa Larkins The demons come out to play around 8:30 p.m.

This hot display is known as oni hanabi, or demon fireworks, and is only held in summer at the Hell Valley Observatory in Noboribetsu. In an artistic display, six demons launch 24 fireworks per day while and three demons ritualistically beat drums and the demon “leader” orchestrates it all, according to the Noboribetsu International Tourism and Convention Association. To witness this spectacle for yourself head to Hell Valley on a Thursday or Friday night in June through July.

Know before you go

If you want to get up close and personal with the Yukijin, head to the main shopping street after the show. The demons return down this street and they are quite happy to pose for photos. They’ll even photobomb you (if given the chance.)

Stay at a ryokan (traditional inn) near Hell Valley for the best experience. Watch the fireworks and then jump in the onsen for the perfect night.

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Things To Know

Date and Time

The fireworks displays are free to watch typically in June and July, and start at 8:30 p.m., with a run time of about 30 minutes. To get a seat on the raised viewing steps for the fireworks, arrive about 8 p.m. However, note that those wearing open-toed shoes will not be allowed in this section.

How To Get There

Address

無番地 Noboribetsuonsenchō, Noboribetsu-shi, Hokkaidō 059-0551, Japan

By train

From Sapporo station

Take the JR rapid airport train to the Chitose Airport, change to the New Chitose Airport Limousine Bus to Ashiyu Iriguchi. Get off at Park Hotel Miyabi-tei and walk to the Hell Valley Observatory (Map) (about 1.6 kilometers). Approximate time is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Alternatively, take the once-a-day direct service to Noboribetsu Onsen from Sapporo station. Walk to the Hell Valley Observatory (approximately 1.7 kilometers). Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.

By car

It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is parking available, but due to the foot traffic, cars must wait for pedestrians to clear the road after the event before leaving.

Where To Stay

Dai-ichi Takimotokan
  • Noboribetsu Onsen-cho 55 059-0595
  • 8.7/10
  • 0.3 km
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Takimoto Inn
  • Noboribetsu Onsencho 76 Noboribetsu-Shi, Hokkaido 059-0551
  • 7.8/10
  • 0.3 km
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Oyado Kiyomizuya
  • Noboribetsu Onsen-cho 173 Noboribetsu-Shi, Hokkaido 059-0551
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.4 km
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Ryotei Hanayura
  • Noboribetsu onsen 100 Noboribetsu-Shi, Hokkaido 059-0551
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.4 km
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