About Nozawa Onsen
Located on the mainland of Japan, Nozawa Onsen is the perfect mix of traditional Japanese and Western convenience. It is a local-run town famous for its free hot springs that are the perfect way to end a day on the hill. Nozawa Onsen receives some of the country’s best and most abundant powder snow, with plenty of terrain for beginners, powder hounds and backcountry explorers to enjoy. Nozawa Onsen also has fantastic restaurants and a fun and friendly nightlife with a mix of bars, clubs and classic karaoke dens.
Insider Ski & Snowboard Tips
The Hikage area is the best place to start as it has a dedicated kid’s area and learning slope. The Nagasaka and Karasawa areas also offer wide and gentle green runs for beginners. Higher up you’ll find the Uenotaira Trail, the Paradise run and the 5km Forest Trail for a cruisy ride all the way to the bottom. Intermediate or advanced riders will love the Yamabiko area at the top of the mountain that provides tree riding, groomers and deep powder pockets. Advanced riders can enjoy the black runs off Sky Line that are left ungroomed, as well as plenty of sidecountry and backcountry providing you have the right equipment.
Nozawa Onsen can take between 3 and 6 hours to reach by public transport. You can take buses, trains or private shuttles. The Nagano Snow Shuttle and Chuo Taxi are great options to take you from the airport to your accommodation in Nozawa Onsen. Otherwise you can catch a bus or train from the airport to Tokyo, then a Shinkansen (bullet train) to the nearby town of Iiyama before a final 20 minute bus up the hill to Nozawa Onsen.
Nozawa Onsen has an abundance of traditional Japanese lodges owned by the local townspeople. These are great ways to experience Japanese hospitality, traditional futon beds and home cooked meals. There are also a number of hotels, lodges and Western style rooms available. On the luxury end there’s Sakaya, an award winning Japanese guesthouse that has been passed down through 17 generations. A more budget friendly option is Seisenso, a basic Japanese style guest house with shared bathrooms and an excellent location in the main part of town. Be aware that many accommodation options include breakfast, and can often have a dinner option added on.
Restaurants & Apres
Nozawa Onsen is perfect for food lovers. It has just the right mix of Japanese meals like ramen, sushi and okonomiyaki, along with western options like Italian, Mexican and a good old fashioned steak. On the mountain Buna is a great choice because it offers both western and Japanese food and does a mean curry. It also has one of the best views on the mountain. Down in the village Wanryu Ramen should be on your must-try list for cheap and hearty ramen noodles, along with Akibitei Okonomiyaki for a taste of inexpensive savoury Japanese pancakes cooked right in front of you.
For drinks, Stay Bar is a local favourite where all the English speaking staff hang out. It’s a little underground bar that frequently has live music. Neo is a cool and casual spot for apres and crepes over near the Karasawa area, and Minato bar is a must for Japanese karaoke.
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