Why Nozawa Onsen?
Nozawa Onsen is a well kept secret in the Japanese Alps. A quaint, traditional village it has all the charm and character that you would want on a trip to Japan, with the added bonus of excellent ski terrain! The village is nestled at the bottom of the mountain with easy access to the lifts from most hotels.
Beginners usually head to the middle of the mountain, where there are some great green runs to practice on. Intermediate to advanced skiers head right to the top Yamabiko area, where there are some more red runs and fantastic off-piste tree runs which end up back at the lift. Highlights include the Skyline course, a 10k long run and a real thigh-burner!
The ‘Onsen’ part of the town name means hot spring, which is what the village is also famous for. There are 13 public bathing houses in town which all have their water sourced directly from the mountain geysers, and are simple and rustic. Each hotel in Nozawa has their own luxurious baths, and a soak in these at the end of the day is a great way to alleviate any aches and pains from skiing or snowboarding. There is also a special cooking spot called Ogama by the source, where local women and men will cook their vegetables and eggs in the naturally heated water.
Eating out in Nozawa is a treat – with a variety of restaurants to choose from; sushi, tempura, soba, yakitori, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, okonomiyaki and more. Western cuisine is also available with two great Italian restaurants and a few others that offer a selection of western dishes.
Recommended are day trips to see the Snow Monkeys or to visit the Zenkoji Temple in Nagano city. If you happen to plan your trip around 15 January you will also witness the famous Dosojin Fire Festival, the highlight of the year in the village and one of the most famous, iconic festivals in Japan.