Famous for hosting the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Nozawa Onsen is a winter haven for anyone who wants to get away from the mundane city life. Over the years, Nozawa Onsen has seen a large influx of overseas tourists thanks to the wide-array of activities one could indulge in. Gaining popularity as an all-year-round destination, Nozawa Onsen with its scenic biking trails, picturesque ski slopes, and unique bathhouses, has something enticing for all. Now, let’s look at why this rustic hotspot should feature on the top of your travel wishlist!
Hit the ski slopes!
The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort has established itself as one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan. With a large ski area that opened over seventy years ago, it has a total of 46 runs that includes standard slopes, half pipes, and cross-country training facilities. The slopes have been categorized into levels offering a little something for everyone. This is to also ensure the safety of every traveler and visitor. People from all around the world come to experience the fine powder snow. Whether you’re a family of beginners or a couple of professionals, the Nozawa Onsen Ski resort will make it a memorable experience for you. For anyone who is keen on learning the art of skiing, there are several professional ski schools in Nozawa Onsen that have dedicated trainers to cater to your needs. If you’re a traveler visiting without any gear of your own, renting quality and affordable ski gear has never been easier! The Nozawa Onsen ski rental shop offers the widest range of ski & snowboard hire, and retail gear. Apart from catering to adults of different skill levels, the rental shop also boasts of a wide range of gear for kids. In case you’re left looking for more, then there are several other ski rentals scattered around the village central. For those looking to hone their skiing or snowboarding skills, the Nozawa Onsen Ski School could be a travel check point. Steeped in history, the institution houses highly trained professionals who impart the necessary skills that one needs to learn to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
Unwind at the Onsens
Known as Nagano’s hot water paradise, Nozawa Onsen features roughly 30 springs, 13 of which are Nozawa Onsen’s free onsen, or soto-yu (outdoor public baths), and a score of indoor bathing facilities. Just a 25-minute walk around the central hot springs hub will take you past more than 15 different bath houses and 10 outdoor public baths. These communal baths are an integral part of the local’s lifestyle and are something that have been maintained since the Edo Period. Sourced from nearby natural hot springs, the water in these bathhouses is rich in minerals and great for soothing sore muscles. Whilst access to these healing waters are usually free of charge, one can find a box placed outside each one for those visiting to give a donation for upkeep. Just so you know, these Nozawa Onsen hot spring baths have a strict ‘bring your own toiletries’ policy – so be sure to carry the essentials!
Experience the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival
Held on January 15th each year, the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival (Nozawa Onsen Dōsojin Hi-matsuri) is a visual delight. This 300-year-old tradition is a playful enactment that celebrates childbirth, marriages, good harvest, health, and good fortune. Hundreds of villagers gather to build a makeshift shrine, following which men aged 25 and 42 (those believed to be unlucky) defend the structure from a series of onslaught. This goes on for about an hour or three before the structure is eventually burnt down to the ground. Be sure to not give this a miss for the celebration is a flashy combination of flames, kindling and sake!
Treat yourself to snackalicious food
Nozawa Onsen is home to some of the most authentic Japanese food you will ever experience. Grab some of their famous steamed buns (Oya ki), munch away on takoyaki (fried octopus balls), down some of the finest sake you’ve ever consumed, or take a chance on an Onsen tamago (hot springs eggs), a local speciality. There are so many dining options to choose from for all kinds of foodies!
Book a fabulous stay
Travelers, be advised that Nozawa Onsen accommodations get booked out before you know it. The rates do fluctuate depending on the time of the year, so it’s best to plan well in advance. Fret not, for Nozawa Onsen has some of the best places to stay in Japan. From unique Nozawa Onsen ski-in ski-out lodges to traditional homestays to other cozy accommodations, there are several stay options to consider, including the Nozawa Onsen Hotel! The serene aura, the eye-catching views and the entire rustic vibe will ensure you have the most relaxing holiday ever! Plan well, but be sure to plan early to luck out!