NOZAWA ONSEN

fantastic snow in a charming
onsen village

A world-class winter resort area that blends a traditional Japanese hot spring town with the aura of a European Alps village.

Nozawa Onsen owes its popularity to an abundance of light powder combined with the allure of a traditional Japanese hot spring village. Not only is it Japan’s oldest resort, it is also known worldwide as one of the country's best, having long attracted skiers and snowboarders from around the world. It's no coincidence that Nozawa Onsen is the sister city of Austria’s prestigious winter paradise, St. Anton.

There is on-piste and off-piste fun to be had on the resort's slopes, and in addition to fantastic skiing and snowboarding, visitors can join snowcat tours and do some winter trekking. The lively town running along the base of the slopes offers a mix of Western-style and Japanese-style lodging, and the hot spring baths, restaurants and bars draw plenty of visitors every night.

Katsuyuki Kohno

World Cup pro skier Katsuyuki Kohno calls Nozawa Onsen home. Kohno was born in the town on January 31, 1981. After graduation from middle school, he relocated to Austria to master alpine skiing. He returned to Japan at the age of 21 and began participating in Ski Cross World Cup events. He spent four years living in Tokyo, where he became involved in video production for the sport. Presently he runs Shirakaba Rental, which has two locations in Nozawa Onsen. He is also is the proprietor of the Shirakaba Hotel and coaches the Nozawa Onsen Junior Ski club. Learn more about Nozawa Onsen through his insider knowledge and photos.

Easy access from Tokyo

Easy access from Tokyo

Nozawa Onsen's renowned snow is surprisingly accessible from Tokyo. The ride to Iiyama Station takes about 90 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. It’s then a comfortable 25-minute ride on the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus to central Nozawa Onsen. The bus is efficiently scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the train.

A moving sidewalk whisks you to the slopes

A moving sidewalk whisks you to the slopes

The main street in town is called Oyu Dori and runs from the central bus terminal along the mountainside. It is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and some of the town's trademark bathhouses. At the northern end of Oyu Dori is Yu Road, a conveyor-belt sidewalk that moves people quickly to the ski slopes. It is free of charge and operates in both directions.

Now to the mountain

Fresh, fluffy snow is guaranteed to make visitors head straight to the slopes. While all of Nozawa Onsen experiences plenty of high-quality snow, the Yamabiko area at the peak of Mt. Kenashi is a favorite for powder hunters. On a clear day it’s possible to see the Sea of Japan from the mountaintop.

Tour the public baths

Local residents collectively manage 13 public bathhouses called sotoyu. Visitors are welcome to use them free of charge. The practice of hopping from one to another, known as sotoyu-meguri, is one of Nozawa Onsen’s particular pleasures. Located near the center of town is the beautiful wooden bathhouse Oyu that was built in the style of traditional Edo-period (1603-1867) architecture. The water here is famously hot; even those that love their baths piping hot will find this one especially warm.

Warm yourself from the
feet up

In front of Oyu, you’ll find hot springs just for your feet. Remove your shoes and socks and take a seat at the public foot bath. Not only will it comfort your tired feet, it will raise your overall body temperature as the blood circulates from your feet throughout the rest of your body.

Stamp rally with a prize

One entertainment option in Nozawa Onsen is its stamp rally. The hot springs village has a total of 27 tourist spots — including the 13 public bathhouses — where you can collect a stamp. Gather more than 10 and you’ll receive a Nozawa Onsen commemorative towel. Stamp rally books are available for purchase at the information center.

From bars to izakaya, Nozawa nights are a blast

After a day of skiing or snowboarding, enjoy a lively evening of après-ski. From Japanese-style izakaya to Western-style bars, the town has a variety of options. Spend some time in the baths, then head out for a bite or a tipple. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you can still enjoy the sights and sounds of the town. Don’t miss the chance to experience Nozawa’s evening charm.

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