What is Nozawa Onsen Famous For?

the-sourceNozawa Onsen is a small mountain village in the northern part of the Nagano Prefecture in Japan. The village is well known for its great slopes, its onsen or hot springs, and its friendly residents and natural beauty. The village sits in the Kogen National Park and over fifty percent of the surrounding area is forested. Around Nozawa Onsen the altitudes range from a low of 300 meters above sea level at Akashi, in the north, to 1,650 meters above sea level at Mt. Kenashi-yama.

skiier-liftThe slopes: The Nozawa Onsen ski and snowboarding area located on Mt. Kenashi-yama is one of largest and best known in Japan with over fifty kilometers of trails including gently running slopes for those skiers and boarders just starting out as well as more challenging trails and jumps those more advanced. The ski trails begin at an elevation of 1085 meters and the ski area includes 297 hectares of skiing surface.

There is also a terrain park with jumps, rails, boxes and an eighty meter pipe for those who are looking for something more than just a trip down the mountain. Getting back to the top is easy and quick with your choice of two gondolas and twenty-three chair lifts to whisk you back to the top once you reach the bottom or one of the 20 pistes or trails the longest of which is an amazing 6.2miles (10km) run.

The Nozawa Onsen ski season runs from December (sometimes mid-November) through the beginning of May featuring soft natural snow (no artificial snow) the entire season.

steamyThe onsen: There are over 30 distinct natural hot springs supplying mineral water to 13 free public baths or sotoyus and many of the ski resorts and ryokans or Japanese inns in the area. Each of the sotoyus have a different mineral spring source with distinct characteristics so try more than one. Nozawa Onsen is often referred to as the center of the Japanese onsen culture. And after a day on the slopes you will appreciate why the Japanese are so enthralled with the onsen traditions.

The friendly residents and natural beauty: On a clear day the top of Mt. Kenashi-yama features gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, Kogen National Park and the Japanese Alps.

sunset-wider2Amazing vistas are not the only attraction worth seeing. The village itself is well worth the trip. Nozawa Onsen while maintaining its traditional Japanese charm with its narrow streets and traditional onsens is renowned for its tourist friendly atmosphere. Nozawa Onsen is located at the foot of Kenashi-yama and is home to only 5000 permanent residents.

In addition to the public baths and traditional Japanese inns or ryokans the winding main street is filled with shops, restaurants, bars and street vendors selling various local delicacies like those made from a vegetable (similar to spinach) called Nozawa-na.

There are also several museums and if you are a ski enthusiast one you need to stop by is the Japan Ski Museum where you can learn more about the history of skiing in this area and the influence of Austrians Major Theodor von Lerch and Hannes Schneider on skiing in Nozawa Onsen.