Zao Onsen Food & Nightlife

Zao Onsen Food & Nightlife

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Zao Onsen has numerous restaurants and izakayas for evening dining, but the majority of visitors to Zao have dinner at their accommodation. Some of the Zao hotels have the most fabulous meals!

Like most Japanese ski areas (except the westernised ski resorts such as Niseko, Hakuba, Myoko and Nozawa Onsen), the nightlife is reasonably sedate, particularly on weeknights.

Zao Onsen has various izakaya-style bars spread across the town, and some of the hotels have their own bars. With the latter in particular, you’ll need to BYO crowd and fun! If you’re keen for a bit more nightlife action, head into Yamagata.

A delightful après ski spot is Chamonix Bar at the base of the Zao Sky Cable. This upscale little bar/café has delightful décor and despite the major European influence it’s still remarkably Japanese. You can drink all the après atsukan you like and you might even be able to score some Igamochi sticky rice cakes, the cute little white sweets decorated with yellow rice grains that are unique to the Zao Onsen area.

Another nice après bar is Zawo on the main road (Jyuhyo dori) between the two ropeways. They too have free wifi. You can sit on the floor Japanese style, or up at one of the tables next to the pot belly stove, and enjoy the funky music and assortment of decorations.

Bar Seiwa sits all alone in the upper part of the village and is frequented by Zao aficionados in the know. This cosy izakaya has rather eclectic décor, and once you’ve had lots of biero you can partake in some karaoke fun.