For more than two hundred years, guests have come here to soak in its hot mineral springs, to relax with family and friends, and to recharge in the clean mountain air. That is the essence of the village. Add to that a multitude of cozy restaurants, cafes, and bars to explore, all within walking distance. And of course the majesty of the mountain, everyone’s playground at any time of the year.
and one of the venues for the 1998 Olympic games, the Nozawa Onsen ski resort is one of the biggest and best in Japan.
Whether a boarder or a skier, beginners will appreciate the easy slopes higher up the mountain with stunning views and great snow. More advanced athletes will enjoy the long runs (the longest is 10km) and steep challenges; with a guide, there is plenty of unspoilt backcountry to choose from too. Cross-country skiers can test their endurance in the Olympic park at Karasawa, or high up amongst the beech trees at Uenotaira. And non-athletes can strap on their snowshoes and stroll through the winter wonderland at will.
bringing with it wild vegetable hunters, bamboo shoot pickers, and nature-loving hikers.
The gondola carries mountain bikers to the heads of a number of trails down the mountain while their road-biking brethren take up the hillclimb challenges. You can admire the views from the gondola’s café, or bring a picnic to eat on the lawn.
Nozawa Onsen also makes a great base for touring the Shinshu region, a favourite for gourmet tourists. A beach day at the Joetsu coast is only an hour away, rafting/canoeing on the Chikuma River even close, and the Shinetsu Trail, a 100-km hiking trail, one of the longest in Japan, is just across the valley.