Getting To Nozawa Onsen

Getting To Nozawa Onsen

Getting To Nozawa Onsen

There are various options for getting to Nozawa Onsen Japan. The travel information and booking options below include Nozawa Onsen bus transfers to/from the airports to Nozawa and trains to Nozawa Onsen. Other Nozawa transport information includes drivinggetting around Nozawa, ski resorts nearby, and flight tips and bookings.

Where is Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort?

Nozawa Onsen is located in the northern part of the Nagano Prefecture of Honshu, the main island of Japan. Nozawa is one of the Nagano ski resorts, located 46km northeast of the city of Nagano and 28km north of the onsen town of Yudanaka (near the snow monkeys).

Driving times to Nozawa Onsen from:
  • Tokyo - 4.5 to 5 hours
  • Narita Airport – 5-6 hours
  • Nagoya - 5 hours
  • Osaka or Kyoto – about 7 hours


The Tokyo Narita Airport is the main gateway airport for Nozawa Onsen, or some people fly into Haneda Airport (although transfer options are not as readily available at Haneda compared to Narita). You can search for flight options here.

Unless you want to overnight in a hotel near the Tokyo train station or a Narita hotel, you’ll need to consider your flight times because not all Nozawa lodgings will allow you to check in at 2am. Arrivals into Narita should ideally be before 7pm, whilst for return flights you’ll ideally want an afternoon flight out of Tokyo or if you catch the shuttle bus to the airport, you’ll need a late afternoon or evening flight out.

Getting to Nozawa Onsen

There are broadly three options for getting to Nozawa Onsen from the Tokyo Narita Airport (or Haneda Airport): a bus to Nozawa Onsen; Chuo Taxi; or train travel which is the fastest.

Nozawa Onsen Bus
An economical and easy option is to catch a Nozawa Onsen bus from Haneda Airport or Tokyo Narita Airport which can be booked with Nagano Snow Shuttle. It takes about 5-6 hours and provides the convenience of not having to drag your luggage between trains and buses. One disadvantage is that the number of schedules is quite limited, so you may be waiting at the airport for a long time. It’s ideal for flights that arrive into Narita late in the day because one of the scheduled buses departs in the evening. For the late afternoon and evening shuttles, you have the option to get dropped off at your accommodation in Nozawa Onsen, otherwise the buses arrive at the Chuo Bus Terminal. From there, your accommodation may provide a pick-up service.

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Chuo Taxi
Chuo Taxi provide door-to-door shared taxis from the airports to Nozawa, or private charters. Particularly if you have a group, the pricing is reasonable and it's a very stress free way to travel to Nozawa.

NB For the 2022-23 season, Chuo Taxi will only be providing private charters.

Trains then Bus to Nozawa Onsen

This option for getting to Nozawa Onsen consists of catching a train to Tokyo (or Ueno) and then Shinkansen (bullet train) to Iiyama (12km from Nozawa). Depending on connections it takes about 4 hours to get from Narita to travel to Nozawa Onsen via train and bus. Another advantage of taking the trains is that it’s a great cultural experience.

Part 1: Trains from Narita Airport to Iiyama
Catching the train is a common mode of transport to Nagano and then onto Iiyama. From Narita Airport (the Tokyo international airport), catch the Narita Express (NEX) train to Tokyo Station (1 hour). There are frequent departures from the airport railway terminal.

Upon arrival at Tokyo Station follow the signs to the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Iiyama. Check Hyperdia for schedules, although unless you’re travelling early or late in the day, there are frequent departures so you can probably just go with the flow. The bullet train from Tokyo to Iiyama takes about 100 minutes. 

The other option is to catch the Keiser Skyliner from Narita Airport to Ueno, and then the bullet train from Ueno to Iiyama. This is generally a little faster, but check Hyperdia for the best route for your travel time.

See our Japan rail travel page for more information on the JR East Pass (Nagano Niigata) including is it worth purchasing a JR East Pass

For train travel to Iiyama from Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto or other parts of Japan, see Hyperdia for routes, schedules and fares. 

Part 2: Bus (or taxi) from Iiyama to Nozawa Onsen
From the Iiyama train station, you can catch the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus that takes 20 minutes to travel to Nozawa Onsen. The schedules for the Nozawa bus match up with train arrivals at Iiyama, except for trains that arrive after 8pm, then you’ll need to catch a taxi to the resort. Taxis are generally small sedans that don’t necessarily have roof racks, so you may need to take your skis or board out of the bag to fit into the taxi.

Driving to Nozawa Onsen

If you want the flexibility to visit other nearby ski resorts or do some easy sightseeing such as the snow monkeys and Shibu Onsen, having a car is ideal (you could rent a car in Nagano or Iiyama if you don’t want to drive all the way from Tokyo). Most rentals cars have great English GPS and all you have to do is enter the telephone number of where you want to go. Parking in the village is rather tight in places, but there are various public car parks.
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Getting Around Nozawa Onsen

The Nozawa Onsen village sits below the ski resort, and considering there are three main base areas (Hikage, Nagasaka, and Karasawa), most lodgings are within walking distance of a lift. Access to and from the Hikage gondola is facilitated by Yû-road, a 300 metre undercover uphill moving escalator (minus the steps). Sometimes getting up and down to Yû-road can be a little treacherous in ski boots (but it makes for an interesting spectator sport!). If you’re renting skis and boots, you may want to store them overnight at one of the Hikage gondola shops.

There is snowmobile trailer transport between the 2 gondolas, which is ideal for kids (and their parents) to get between the Nagasaka gondola and ski school or day care at the Hikage gondola. This makes the accommodation near the Nagasaka gondola rather attractive for families who need these services. This snowmobile shuttle is also available for people who don’t have skis or a snowboard.

There is a town shuttle bus that travels up to the Nagasaka gondola, but most people don’t tend to use it unless they’re staying in the lower reaches of town.

The town is rather hilly and even though the narrow roads are heated with onsen water, it can be a little slippery so wear sturdy footwear. Take care (even if you haven’t been drinking!) because there are many ditches and drains off the side of the walkways, some with six foot plus drops. And if you’re driving around town, be really careful of these big dikes!

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

There are various other Nagano ski resorts, so Nozawa Onsen can easily be combined with other ski areas on your Japan ski holiday. To get to Hakuba, Myoko Kogen, Madarao/Tangram or Shiga Kogen you can get a shuttle bus from Nozawa Onsen with Nagano Snow Shuttle (Inter-Resort). These inter-resort shuttles depart 5 times a day, so they’re ideal for day trips or moving accommodation.

Another option is to get a taxi or private shuttle. Chuo Taxi is one option.

Nearby Madarao Kogen can be plenty of fun on a powder day, and the ski area is connected to Tangram Ski Resort. Togari Onsen Ski Resort is also close by and has largely mellow slopes. The Nozawa Togari Madarao Bus provides transport between the three ski resorts for very reasonable rates.

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Road distances from Nozawa Onsen: