Things To Do In Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen is not only one of the best ski resort areas in Japan but is also famous for it’s rustic village, food, festivals and public hot springs (onsen). So it’s the perfect place for foreign visitors to enjoy both skiing and traditional Japanese experiences. Here are eleven things you simply shouldn’t miss while you’re at Nozawa Onsen.
11 must see things in Nozawa Onsen
In no particular order…
1. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is one of the most amazing ski areas in Japan. The snow quality is excellent and there is no man made stuff – only 100% natural Japow! There is good snow until March and the season runs through till the beginning of May. There is plenty of terrain to explore, offering over fifty kilometres of trails or pistes beginning at an elevation of 1,085 meters with 297 hectares of skiing surface. One of the pluses of skiing at Nozawa is that there really is something for everybody. Check here for more info or check out the latest Nozawa Snow Report!
Soto no yu means public hot spring baths and there are 13 soto no yu at the Nozawa Onsen. All of them are beautiful, clean and well-maintained by the local community. The O-yu bathhouse is the biggest of them and is a must-try. Entry is free but a donation is requested for upkeep and maintenance. You must bring your own towel and toiletries with you as well. Be careful – they are very hot!
3. Dosojin Fire Festival
The famous Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is nationally designated as an important intangible folk cultural property. It originally began as an invocation for a good harvest, health and good fortune in the coming year, but has been expanded to include a good ski season as well. Taking place on January 15th every year, the festival is staged by men aged 42 and 25 (so-called “unlucky ages”) to celebrate the birth of a family’s first child, to dispel evil spirits and also to pray for happy marriage. Fire and snow always go well and the Nozawa Onsen fire festival exemplifies this as one of the three great fire festivals in Japan. This is the biggest event in the village over the year.
Sake is Japanese traditional rice wine which you can drink hot or cold. Nagano is one of the famous sake producing areas of Japan. It is great to enjoy with the local cuisine.
5. Ryokan (Japanese Inn)
Traditional Japanese hotels, or ryokan, at Nozawa Onsen are a very good option for those looking for quality Japanese service and traditional hospitality in Nozawa Onsen.This accommodation usually includes a traditional Japanese dinner with courses, a traditional breakfast, hot springs and a yukata to relax in while you stay. There are numerous Nozawa Onsen ryokan and traditional inns from the very old to the very new.
6. Rotenburo (outdoor baths)
Rotenburo are hot springs located outdoors. Many of the local ryokan and hotels have both indoor and outdoor baths.
You can enjoy some beautiful outdoor scenery over the snowy mountains and hills, sometimes while also enjoying warm sake. It is truly a fantastic experience.
7. Onsen tamago (eggs) experience
Onsen tamago are boiled eggs which have been boiled in the hot springs. You can experience cooking your own onsen tamago around some public bathhouses or ryokan. You can also buy them in some of the local gift shops.
8. Countdown fireworks on the ski slope
The Nagasaka slope extends night skiing until 11:30 PM on New Year’s Eve. At midnight visitors can enjoy the fireworks and the New Year countdown. Cask sake is served to visitors free of charge.
There is another fireworks display in early March on the Hikage slopes. Enjoy a fantastic world of light featuring tomyo lights, fireworks on the snow, and demonstrations of flare skiing.
9. Ashi no yu (foot baths)
Ashi no yu means hot spring foot bath. There are a few of these located in Nozawa Onsen with the most famous being opposite Oyu in the centre of the village.
This is an early morning market open every Sunday (and other designated days) from May to December. They sell a variety of local products which include vegetables, Japanese pickles, crafts, and more. It is a great place to pick up some souvenirs and also try some of the local vegetables like Nozawana. All of the reviews say to get there early so don’t miss it!
You can also check out the Hana-no-eki markets down the hill on the banks of the Chikuma River. The facility sells local specialty goods including murasakimai (purple long-grained rice), uchiyama paper, hand brooms and other traditional handcrafted goods. A farmer’s market on site sells an array of freshly harvested vegetables from local fields. Also try the carrot icecream!
If can’t get to the either there are quite a few shops that sell all kinds of local produce and products as well as souvenirs.
11. Buy an Oyaki bun
Local specialties on the main street (Oyu Dori) include Oyaki (steamed buns) with various fillings. This local dish is made by wrapping vegetables and other ingredients in flour and steaming with onsen water or baking it. It typically contains Nozawana, a vegetable that is a local specialty in Nozawa Onsen. However Oyaki is prepared in a wide variety of ways, such as sweet versions containing adzuki beans or pumpkin.
12 (bonus). Take a trip to the Snow Monkeys
A visit to the Nozawa area would not be complete without seeing the Japan Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park. It is a popular day trip from Nozawa Onsen.
Things to do In Nozawa Onsen: Video
Also worth seeing: Check out the best Nozawa Onsen pics of 2014/15
This post was inspired by Ebicci @ https://www.tsunagujapan.com/10-things-not-to-miss-in-japans-nozawa-onsen/