Heard of Japan's tucked away snow village, Nozawa Onsen? Don't worry, most people haven't. This local-run town is high up in the mountains and gets some of the country's best powder snow, complete with all the tree runs and pristine backcountry a skier or snowboarder could ever dream of. Get access to the best spots with this guide, along with many more snowy hints and tips.
FREE Natural Hot Springs
Nozawa Onsen is famous amongst Japan for something else - natural hot spring baths, or 'onsen'. There are 13 free onsen scattered across the village, each with its own distinctive coloured minerals and supposed healing properties.
The Japanese come to Nozawa Onsen from all across the country to visit these old, wooden buildings and sit in the scalding water together - entirely naked! If you're not too shy, there is nothing better than soaking in an onsen after a hard day on the slopes. However, there are some strict rules and guidelines about using the onsen that only locals know. Don't be a typical clueless foreigner by reading the do's and don'ts of the hot springs.
Snow Monkeys Up Close & Personal
Nozawa Onsen is known for the nearby snow monkey park where you can watch hundreds of wild Japanese macaques sit in their own natural hot spring as the snow falls. These critters aren't camera shy and have been known to come right up to visitors, even taking their cameras for a quick selfie.
What's in the Itinerary?
Find all the best bits away from the tourist spots with this local's guide. Alongside heaps of beautiful photos, you'll find out:
- The best off piste skiing/snowboarding areas
- Nozawa Onsen's longest runs
- The best tucked away and FREE hot springs
- Cheap food and unbeatable karaoke & drink deals
- The most beautiful hidden chairlift in Nozawa Onsen
- Where to see snow monkeys in hot springs
- The restaurants and bars where the locals and ski instructors go
- Local myths and legends
- The village's best coffee
The Best of Traditional Japan
If that wasn't enough, Nozawa Onsen boasts:
- small ski crowds
- next to no lift lines
- friendly locals
- crazy karaoke bars
- fantastic food
- a traditional Japanese village feel you can't find anywhere else
Location Tips from a Local Snow Pro
This guide comes from an Australian snowboard instructor who has travelled extensively in Japan and lived in Nozawa Onsen for 9 months. Also a published writer, she has visited over 12 countries and been to 9 different ski resorts in Japan, Korea, and Australia. Yet Nozawa Onsen remains her favourite place in the entire world.