Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Oyu, the most famous onsen in Nozawa Japan
The village of Nozawa Onsen sits below the ski area
The cooking onsen is a cultural hub of Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
A little steep path heads up to the Yu Walkway to the slopes
Sidecountry powder skiing at Nozawa Onsen
The town of Nozawa Onsen Japan
The Main Street of Nozawa Onsen has lots of cute eateries
One of the foot onsen in Nozawa Japan
Views from the near the top of Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort
Nozawa Onsen Japan
Skiing Nozawa Onsen powder
The onsen culture is a large part of the heritage of the town
Nozawa Onsen Japan
One of many bars in Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen Japan
The snow monkeys are reasonably close to Nozawa
Having an onsen is an essential part of your Nozawa ski trip
Ski Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen

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Nozawa Onsen

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Nozawa Onsen4 out of 5 based on 29 reviews
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Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort Japan

Nozawa Onsen Japan is a hot spring and ski resort village near Nagano. The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort almost takes a bit of a backseat relative to the charming village that offers an interesting and traditional Japanese experience. The village is famous for the abundance of hot springs that were discovered in the 8th century. Steam rises up everywhere amongst the bustling narrow cobblestone streets and the traditional ryokan inns and shops.

The culture of Nozawa Onsen skiing is also historic. Skiing was introduced to Nozawa Onsen Japan in 1912 by an Austrian, and it is considered by some to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan.

These days, the Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan for international travellers due to its diversity of terrain, abundance of snow, the lovely traditional village, its family friendliness, and because English speaking guests are well catered for.

Pros and Cons of Nozawa Japan

  • The Nozawa Onsen village is a highlight and lots of the buildings have traditional Japanese architecture, which adds to the cultural experience.
  • There is a good range of Nozawa Onsen accommodation types (ryokan, hotels, pensions, self-contained apartments and houses) to suit a range of budgets.
  • Nozawa has a lot of different onsen, although most of them are indoors.
  • You can visit little temples and nearby Nagano also offers other cultural experiences.
  • The Nozawa Onsen ski resort is reasonably large (by Japanese standards) so there’s enough variety for a week long experience, and you can also do day trips to other nearby ski resorts such as Madarao, Tangram and Togari Onsen.
  • It is close to other major Nagano ski resorts so it’s easy to combine it with other destination resorts.
  • The Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort has a couple of in-bounds and side-country areas with reasonably steep terrain, which is a bit of a rarity for Japan.
  • It caters wells for children. This is one of only a handful of Japanese ski resorts that can provide group ski lessons in English and child care/babysitting with English speaking staff. There is also a great snow play park for the kids.
  • The village has reasonable nightlife (for a Japanese ski resort) and the restaurants and Japanese cuisine are also a highlight.
  • There is no perfectly located Nozawa Onsen accommodation that is ski-in ski-out and also close to the centre of town. Generally you have to compromise on either proximity to the slopes or the hub of town.
  • As with the other Honshu ski resorts, the quality of the powder is a fraction heavier than that found in Hokkaido, but it’s still really good! 
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • Its popularity has increased dramatically in recent years - you’ll need to book your trip early. Lots of westerners now visit and it’s losing a fraction of its traditional Japanese charm. The upside is that it’s very easy to get by if you don’t speak fluent Japanese.
  • If you’re looking for a luxury western style resort hotel with soft queen/king beds, you won’t find it. The Nozawa Onsen hotels and pensions are delightfully Japanese. Except for the high-end ryokans, don’t expect a room with a full ensuite bathroom. If you don’t want to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture, sleep on the tatami floor with a futon (or two) and beanbag type pillow, eat Japanese food, or bathe nude in an onsen with other people, then perhaps go to Niseko instead. Or maybe Canada?!

Nozawa Onsen Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Nozawa Onsen ski resort is only made up of one ski area, unlike some of the other ski areas near Nagano, but it is reasonably large with 300 hectares of terrain, 50km of slopes, and an impressive vertical drop of 1,085 metres. Piste runs are equitably distributed for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders, although Nozawa Onsen skiing is best suited to beginner and advanced skiers and boarders.

The Nozawa Onsen ski area is situated on Kenashi-yama which literally translates to "Mount no-hair", yet the mountain is far from bald considering that the Nozawa ski resort is below the tree-line. The ski runs have been cut through the trees with many wide groomed runs as well as an abundance of mogul runs.

Nozawa Onsen Snow

The sight of all those egg carton shaped runs can make a powder hound howl, but powder hounds shouldn’t despair because the moguls generally don’t have long to form. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is blessed with over 10 metres of snow fall each season, thanks to its proximity to the Sea of Japan and the precipitation that’s picked up during storms. Nozawa Onsen is definitely a great destination for powder hounds and there are lots of days where the face shots come fast and furious.

Nozawa Skiing Off Piste

Officially off-piste skiing is banned across most of the resort but you probably won’t get into hot water with the patrollers for going off-piste. Hopefully the only hot water you’ll end up is in the onsen for après ski! Nozawa also has some amazing sidecountry and backcountry terrain.

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Where is Nozawa Japan?

Nozawa Onsen Japan is located in the northern part of the Nagano Prefecture on the Honshu Island. The resort is 46km northeast of the city of Nagano and 249km northwest of Tokyo. There are various other Nagano ski resorts, so Nozawa Onsen can easily be combined with other ski areas on your Japan ski holiday.

There are two main options to get from the Tokyo Narita Airport to Nozawa Onsen. The first transport option is to get a shuttle bus from Haneda or Narita Airport to Nozawa Onsen with Nagano Snow Shuttle. The other method is to catch a train to Tokyo then a bullet train to Iiyama, and catch a bus to the resort. See the getting to Nozawa Onsen page for more information.

Nozawa Onsen Accommodation

Nozawa Onsen is not a purpose built ski village so there are no towering hotels or glitzy monstrosities. The village has lots of ryokans (traditional Japanese hotels), many with their own onsen, as well as Minshuku (pensions that are a little more rustic) and more Western style hotels.

Japanese style rooms are quite common in Nozawa. Tatami flooring and futon bedding is great if you want to fully experience the local culture, but if you need a little bit more padding on your bed there are also some Western style rooms (but not many), typically with twin beds. Many lodgings have English speaking staff, and there are various lodgings where a little “Engrish” is spoken. This is all part of the fun of being in Japan!

The Nozawa Onsen accommodation options range from lodgings for the budget oriented up to first class Japanese properties with superior facilities, service and dining.

NB If you are looking for lodging for Xmas to New Years, the fire festival, and Chinese New Year, please note that many properties sell out very early. You can look at accommodation availability and rates here.

Facilities - Japan Ski Resort for Kids

The town and the ski resort have reasonably well developed services and facilities such as ski school and rental equipment shops (that have large sizes!). Nozawa is one of very few Japan ski resorts where it’s easy to take the kids because they have ski lessons with English speaking instructors as well as child care and babysitting. Check out the Nozawa Onsen facilities and where to ski in Japan with kids pages to see that Nozawa Onsen comes up trumps regarding family friendliness.


Considering the abundance of geothermal activity, the focus for après ski and off-slope activities is the onsens. The town has more than 30 natural hot springs that supply the ryokans as well as the 13 public baths (sotoyu). Boys be sure to do some man-scaping before you arrive! The hottest spring is the Ogama Onsen. With waters bubbling up at about 90 degrees Celsius, the hot spring is used by the locals for cooking vegetables and to entertain the tourists!

Also hot is the Dosijin Fire Festival which is held on the 15th January each year. This festival involves lots of kanpai, fireworks and fire – a wonderful highlight of any Nozawa visit.

Other activities include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, and the swimming pool has a waterslide and a wave pool. Or you can visit the famous snow monkeys.

More Reasons To Ski or Snowboard at Nozawa Onsen

At Nozawa Onsen it’s not just about the skiing or snowboarding. Sure the ski resort provides some delightfully steep tree skiing and plenty of variety, but the main event is the charming village where you can enjoy lots of relaxation and rejuvenation, the traditional architecture, the history, and the fascinating culture.

Some overzealous people call Nozawa Onsen the “Kyoto” of Japanese ski resorts because it has such a rich cultural history. There aren’t hundreds of temples in Nozawa Onsen and you won’t see geisha girls wandering down the street dressed in a silk kimono. You’ll only see men wandering down the street in their yukata (informal cotton kimono) on the way to the onsen! Nevertheless Nozawa Onsen undoubtedly provides one of the best cultural experiences of the Japanese ski resorts.
Tours That Include Nozawa

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Alps to Coast Tour
9 Nights | Option of 1 Day Cat Skiing | Deluxe Option
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This backcountry tour includes the HAKUBA region with its steep alpine terrain and the MYOKO area which receives big snow falls. Choose from either a side country tour (lift accessed backcountry) or ski touring/skinning backcountry. Option to include a day of cat skiing & option for deluxe accommodation.
Price p/p From price based on a twin share room for group tour for 2020 (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,867
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Ski some of the most impressive lines Japan has to offer at Tenjindaira
11 Days | 10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Experience Japan powder like no other on this legendary road trip where you will visit up to 8 resorts in 3 prefectures; Nagano, Gunma & Niigata! Join a tour as a solo traveler, couple or small group. Max 6 spots per tour so get in quickly! Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share, standard package.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,812
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 5% off the tours on the 11th and 22nd Feb if booked before 21st Jan 2020
Fire & Snow
8 Nights | 7 Days Skiing/Riding
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Improve your powder skiing/riding ability whilst visiting some of the best ski areas in Nagano & Niigata including Nozawa Onsen, Lotte Arai, Myoko Kogen, Madarao/Tangram, Shiga Kogen & finish with the Nozawa Fire Festival. Also visit the snow monkeys, Matsumoto Castle, sake brewery & onsens.
Price p/p From price is based twin/triple-share rooms (private room upgrade is extra & is subject to availability at time of booking)
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inclusive of tax
*Display price may vary slightly due to fluctuation in exchange rates.
USD 2,448
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Nagano Ski/Board Progression
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Intermediate to Strong Intermediate
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence or improve your on-piste technique whilst checking out some of Nagano's fabulous ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. In addition to the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history. Share
Price p/p From price based on quad-share dorm room with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,357
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 5% off the tours on the 1st & 10th March 2020
Nagano Powder Chaser
3, 4, 5 & 6 Nights | 2, 3, 4 & 5 Days Skiing/Boarding
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
Don't let a lack of time, budget or resort knowledge hold you back from a ski/snowboard trip in Nagano this winter. Experience many of Nagano's best ski areas with guides who have an intimate knowledge; based in the culturally rich town of Yudanaka. Tours can be CUSTOMISED for 3 nights or more. Share
Price p/p From price based on 3-night stay at Lodge Aibiya (2 days skiing/boarding) in a quad dorm room with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 865
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 7.5% discount for tours booked between 10th March to 20th April 2020
Nagano Ski Buffet
10 Days | 9 Nights | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, traditional Japanese accommodation and authentic Japanese food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure! Share
Price p/p From price based on quad-share room at Lodge Aibiya with shared bathroom.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,357
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 5% off the tour on the 1st March 2020
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Myoko Deep Tour
7 Nights | 5 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
The MYOKO KOGEN area receives some of the highest snow falls in Japan. On this Myoko tour you can head deep into the backcountry or just score the powder in the sidecountry (lift accessed) terrain of Myoko and surrounding ski areas.
Price p/p From price based on a twin share room for fixed date group tour 2020 (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,093
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Hakuba Guided Day Tours
For PRIVATE & MIXED (early season only) GROUPS of up to 5 people
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry or sidecountry. Tours are for PRIVATE or MIXED GROUPS of up to 5 guests. So get a group together or join a group as a solo traveler, couple or small group.
Price p/p From price based on a group touring (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 173
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Myoko Guided Day Tours
For PRIVATE & MIXED (early season) GROUPS of up to 5 people
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the MYOKO area, you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding. The area (& also other nearby resorts) is huge & some of the best skiing is outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accessed with a guide. Bring your own group (of up to 5) or join a group as a solo/small group
Price p/p From price based on group tour per person.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 173
View Details
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Nozawa Onsen here