The Nozawa Onsen Guide is the ultimate guide to the Nozawa Onsen area. Find hotels, webcams, maps, accommodation, fire festival, weather, real estate, snow & ski info.
Nozawa Onsen Guide & Information
Nozawa Onsen is located just one hour’s drive from Nagano City in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture – a charming hot spring village located at the foot of Kenashi-yama Mountain which is home to around 4,000 people. Nozawa Onsen is said to date back to 8th century but has been renowned for it’s hot springs and traditional inns since the Edo period. More recently the village has also gained popularity as a ski area that features a great variety of terrain and amazing snow that’s hard to match. There is nothing like combining light Japanese powder snow with a rich cultural experience and a deep soaking onsen. Nozawa Onsen caters to this perfectly with a wide range of accommodation including ryokan & traditional inns, budget accommodation options, minshuku, pension, ski lodges, hotels, inns or self-contained apartment lodgings.
Nozawa Onsen offers more than just a ski trip though – experience not only the culture, food, famous hot springs and the renowned fire festival - but also the ambience and great après ski which sets Nozawa apart from other areas. The village features some amazing traditional architecture with temples, shrines, hot spring establishments, traditional ryokan and free foot baths along many of it’s streets. Even though the village is small there can be over 100 restaurants and bars open during ski season – from well known western-style bars such as Exiev to small hole in the wall shokudo. Any visitors fortunate enough to be in Nozawa Onsen early in the New Year (January 15th) should not miss the Dosoujiin Fire Festival, one of the most famous and exciting fire festivals in Japan.
See some Nozawa Onsen videos here.
As seen in the above picture, Nozawa Onsen Village is located at the foot of the ski resort, which spans across three main areas. The Nozawa Onsen ski resort is a large ski area that opened over seventy years ago. There is plenty of terrain to explore, offering over fifty kilometres of trails or pistes beginning at an elevation of 1085 meters with 297 hectares of skiing surface. One of the pluses of skiing at Nozawa is that there really is something for everybody (see stats below). There are family friendly wide open pistes, some difficult mogul runs plus it offers some great powder days between the marked runs too. Active skiers will find a terrain park with jumps, rails, boxes and an eighty metre pipe to get the adrenalin pumping.
See our maps page for the layout of the village and ski areas or, even better, our extensive google map page. See links to the right for more specific ski information courtesy of the official Nozawa Onsen tourist website.
NOZAWA ONSEN SKI RESORT – KEY INFO
|Resort altitude:||Top – 1,650 metres||Bottom – 565 metres|
|Season dates:||Mid December till early May|
|Number of lifts & courses:||25 (Twenty-three chair lifts and two gondolas)||20 Courses|
|Skill level:||Beginner 40%||Intermediate 30%||Advanced 30%|
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Throughout the village there are about thirty different type of hot springs and thirteen public hot spring baths. Whilst the baths are free of charge, there is a box outside each one for visitors to provide a donation for upkeep. You will also need to take your own towel and soap. For Japan onsen etiquette please see here. Among these baths, Oyu, located at the centre of the village, is regarded one of it’s most recognizable landmarks – a beautiful bath house with an atmosphere reminiscent of the Edo period. The other famous hot spring in Nozawa Village is Ogama which is the hottest of the springs in Nozawa with the water temperature reaching about 90 degrees Celsius. This type of hot spring is rare in Japan and thus has been designated as a natural monument of national importance. Ogama has become the “kitchen” of the village as it is used to boil eggs and vegetables.
Nozawa Onsen has very easy to access from Tokyo or Narita Airport and usually takes around 4-5 hours depending on the transportation used. For more information on getting to Nozawa Onsen from Nagano see here (train) or here (bus). For directions from Tokyo see here, or from Nagoya/Osaka/Kyoto see here. A Nozawa Onsen access map can be downloaded here. There are various direct shuttles run by various companies but schedules and bookings (and sometimes reliability) can be fluid.
There is a winter shuttle available to nearby ski resorts Madarao Kogen and Togari Onsen. For more details see the Nozawa Onsen – Togari Onsen – Madarao Kogen shuttle website. Many skiers combine a trip to Nozawa Onsen with a few days either in Hakuba or Myoko Kogen. Visits to Togakushi Village, Zenkoji Temple or the Snow Monkeys are also very popular.
Renting a car to travel to Nozawa Onsen is a popular option. For ease of pre-booking a rental car online and great selection Tocoo is the only one real choice. This company provides an English website and support in English, plus some cars can come with English GPS.
NOZAWA ONSEN WEBCAM - COURTESY OF NOZAWA VILLAGE
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