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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

NAGANO Nozawa Onsen A world-class ski resort with a charming, old-time atmosphere

A world-class ski resort with a charming, old-time atmosphere

Formerly a sleepy hot spring town, Nozawa Onsen is now an internationally famous ski resort, with prime conditions for all kinds of winter sports. From the narrow, store-lined streets to the thrilling winter fire festival, you don't have to be a skiier to have a great time here.

Don't Miss

  • Hitting the slopes at one of Japan's best ski destinations
  • Soothing aching muscles in a mineral-rich hot spring bath
  • Wandering the charming town that preserves the atmosphere of old Japan
  • Watching the hair-raising spectacle of Nozawa Onsen's fire festival

How to Get There

Nozawa Onsen is most conveniently accessed from Tokyo by car or bus.

If you are flying into Tokyo's Narita or Haneda airports, the Nagano Snow Shuttle conveniently offers a direct connection to Nozawa during the ski season of December through March. The journey takes approximately six hours. From Nozawa, the bus continues on to the other Nagano ski resorts of Hakuba and Shiga Kogen.

Alternatively, you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Iiyama (1 hour 40 minutes) and connect to the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus (25 minutes).

Direct buses are available through the winter from Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Quick Facts

Legend has it that a wandering Buddhist monk discovered Nozawa Onsen's many hot springs in the 8th century

Nozawa Onsen hosted the biathlon in the 1998 Winter Olympics, and many Japanese winter Olympians hail from here

A world of powder

The abundant powdery snow has put Nozawa Onsen on the radar of keen skiiers and boarders around the world, turning it into one of Japan's most visited resorts. Skiing was introduced here in 1912, one of the first places in the country to take up the sport. The area can experience up to 10 meters of snow per season. You can find 20 lifts that whisk you up to 44 trails spread over 50 kilometers of slopes, suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

The Japan Ski Museum, just north of the village, is packed with winter sports artifacts. Exhibits cover the Olympics, the history of skiing in Japan and more.

Soak the body and the spirit

Nothing beats a soak in a hot spring after a long day on the slopes. Nozawa Onsen's neighborhood associations maintain 13 free public onsen throughout the village, each dedicated to a different bodhisattva, or Buddhist deity. Oyu occupies an intricate wooden building in the village center and is the largest. You might want to enter the tub gingerly; Nozawa's baths are extremely hot.

The natural spring water is also refreshing and delicious, and you can fill up water bottles from Hachiman Shrine or near the Nagasaka gondola station.

Monkey see, monkey bathe

You can combine your stay in Nozawa with a visit to the famous snow monkeys of Jigokudani Park, with a direct bus departing twice daily during the winter season, from December to April. The trip takes about one hour.

Fiery thrills

Nozawa Fire Festival ranks as one of the wildest traditional Shinto festivals you can witness in Japan and is a spectacle not to miss.

The festival takes place yearly on January 15, combining a rite of passage to protect village men in their so-called unlucky years (as dictated by the traditional calendar) with ancient New Year fire rituals. Villagers with beacons of bundled reeds attempt to torch a makeshift shrine in a standoff with the men trying to protect the shrine. With sparks flying in all directions, this battle over the shrine is electrifying. How does it all end, you ask? Come to Nozawa and see for yourself.

Après ski evenings in Nozawa

While Nozawa's nightlife may be lower key than that of resorts like Hakuba, you can still find plenty to do after dark. Izakaya, Japanese-style pubs and buckwheat noodle shops abound. Libushi has a variety of Japanese craft beers on tap, while Kaze no Ie serves delicious Italian fare and the bubbly proprietor will welcome you. The homey coffee shop Shichirohei offers meals as well, and is popular with locals.

For something lighter, why not pick up some oyaki, grilled dumplings with savory fillings like winter squash and spicy eggplant. They are available from roadside vendors, as are onsen-boiled eggs. Near the main bath house, Oyu, is an open square called Ogama, where the locals cook eggs in the spring water, which maintains a constant temperature of 90℃. Wake up early in the morning to see them hard at work.

The perfect summer mountain retreat

While winter is the peak season for tourism in Nozawa Onsen, the town offers a cool retreat from the oppressive heat of the lowlands during the summer months. You can rent mountain bikes, hike and kayak in the area, and local businesses offer yoga classes, Japanese cooking classes, art retreats and much more.

It is worth stopping by the charming town of Obuse, where woodblock print artist Hokusai spent his later years. If you take the Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano, take the time to visit the impressive Zenkoji Temple and dine on local soba noodles before heading up to Nozawa Onsen.

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