Ryokan Sakaya Nozawa Onsen, Japan
View our suggested itinerary: Ultimate Japanese Ski Experience
Nozawa Onsen is a sleepy hot spring town in northern Nagano Prefecture on Japan’s main island featuring charming, wood-panelled streets and buildings that have survived since the Edo period (1603-1868). There are 13 traditional style public baths (sotoyu) maintained by the local community that are freely open to the public. This is why the Japanese like to visit this authentic, characterful village. Oh and one more thing… it also happens to sit in a beautiful mountain setting, slap-bang at the centre of Japan's most fantastic ski region!
This town comes alive in the Winter when visitors arrive to enjoy the 1,085 metres of vertical downhill skiing with two gondolas taking you straight to the top, accessing 36 runs with the longest being almost seven-miles long. Nozawa Onsen may not quite offer the backcountry riches and sheer scale of either Niseko or the Hakuba Valley but it is eye-wateringly pretty on the slopes. There are steeps and moguls a-plenty and the off-piste between the trees up top is pure powder paradise.
Nozawa Onsen is truly the best place in the country for a traditional city / ski experience. Why not stay at a traditional Inn or Ryokan? Here, guests sleep on a futon laid out on tatmi mats, bathe in communal hot spring baths and dine on delicate Japanese dishes. There are fantastic day trips within easy reach of the town including the famous bathing “snow monkeys” of Yudanaka.
- Our favourite run: Sky Line
- Best off-piste: Yamabiko
- Mountain lunch: Panorama House Buna
- Après Ski: Any Izakaya in the village
- Dinner: Soba-dokoro Daimon
- Non-skiers: Visit the famous snow monkeys / one of the 13 public onsens (soto-yu) in the village
- Ski Schools: Yes - English speaking private lessons
- Private Guides: No
- Childcare: Yes
- Massage: Yes
- Transfers: Yes
- 21 lifts
- 36 runs
- Base elevation of 565 metres
- Top elevation of 1,650 metres
- Pistes: 36
- Blue: 30%
- Red: 30%
- Black: 40%