Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort


Located around 50km to the north-east of Nagano City, Nozawa Onsen is one of the most popular ski resorts in Central Japan. Boasting a long history as a hot spring town and place of healing, the heavy snow of winter led to the introduction of skiing in Nozawa in the 1950s, since which time it has steadily increased its reputation as one of Nagano’s best resorts stemming from its blend of traditional charm and great powder. On this page you will find the following information:

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: The Stats & Facts

Where to Stay in Nozawa?

Accommodation & Ski Packages in Nozawa

Japan Ski Resorts: Everything You Need to Know

Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri (Fire Festival)

Getting to & Around Nozawa in Winter

Tours & Charters from Nozawa Onsen

Officially called ‘Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort’, it offers skiers and snowboarders around 300 hectares of terrain accessible via 36 trails and courses. By Japanese standards this makes Nozawa Onsen a large resort which is easy to move around given a good setup of gondolas and lifts. Ideally-suited to snowboarders who love its powder and youthful atmosphere, Nozawa continues to grow in popularity year-on-year.

The appeal of the resort stems as much from what is available off the slopes as the action on the mountain, with the lively village offering a good range of accommodation, restaurants and bars. Several free public ‘onsen’ (natural hot springs) in the village add to its appeal, while events including the Nozawa Onsen Dosojin (Fire Festival) held each January draw big crowds. Here’s a breakdown of what’s on offer:



Nozawa is one of Japan’s largest resorts with a lively village. Its compact size and great variation of courses make is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Particularly well-suited to snowboarders given its compact nature, Nozawa retains a youthful and lively atmosphere both on the mountain and at night in the village, which is well-serviced by a range of restaurants, bars, and accommodation.


Operating Dates & Times

Dependent on snow conditions, areas of the resort typically open from late-November and remain in operation until early-May. The full resort should be open from the second half of December until the end of March or into April. Lifts operate from 08:00 to 16:30 or 17:00. Night-skiing is available from 17:00 to 20:00 every Saturday from the second half of December until the end of March.

Ski Runs

The resort has 36 courses serviced by 2 gondolas and 19 lifts, offering around 300 hectares of terrain. Courses breakdown as: beginner 40% / intermediate 30% / advanced 30%. Situated between 565 to 1650 metres, Nozawa offers an impressive 1085 of vertical however the lower altitude at the bottom can make the snow a bit sketchy. Nevertheless, the resort is usually blessed with outstanding powder in the upper areas and when everything is open, Nozawa lays claim to Nagano’s longest course at an impressive 10km!


Nozawa can be accessed through three base areas – Karasawa, Nagasaka and Higake. Approaching the resort from Nagano/Iiyama Station, you will first pass Karasawa from where you can access the ski runs however there is no gondola in the area and for most visitors, it will be most convenient to do so via Nagasaka or Higake. Nagasaka is the most central area – located at the top of the village – while Higake is located on the western-side of the village.


Both areas have gondolas ascending to the upper areas of the resort. Riding the Nagasaka gondola takes you the Uenotaira ski area, from where you hit-up the Uenotaira Park or descend into the popular (and often crowded) Paradise course before splitting into multiple trails that drop down into Higake including the long but often crowded and flat Rinkan forest trail. This is a good option for beginners however for intermediate and advanced skiers/boarders, when you get off the gondola we recommend heading-up again to the Yamabiko ski area where you’ll find great powder, and from where you can hit the Skyline Course back down to the Nagasaka or Karasawa base areas. Another option from the upper station of the Nagasaka Gondola, is to head along the Bunabauyashi and Yunomine trails. Often overlooked, these areas are usually empty and can have great powder.

Tickets & Passes

Lifts generally operate from 08:30 to 16:30 or 17:00 with night-skiing is available every Saturday from 17:00 to 20:00 from the second half of December until the end of March. A day-pass costs: adults (15+) JPY5200 / children (under 15) JPY2900 / seniors (60+) JPY4200. A range of other ticket options are also available including 4-hour passes (valid for 4-hours of use from entering the first gate) at a cost of: adults JPY4400 / children JPY2500 / seniors JPY3500. A night-skiing ticket costs: adults JPY1900 / children JPY1050. Night-skiing is not covered by the day-pass, requiring visitors to buy a separate ticket.

Rental & Ski School

There is no shortage of rental options in Nozawa with some guesthouses also providing in-house services. The quality of gear can vary greatly so if that is important to you, shop around to make sure you get what you’re after. Rental is available in the Nagasaka Gondola base station with English-speaking staff on-hand to assist, otherwise you’ll find other outlets immediately outside the building and spread through the village. Nozawa Ski School typically provides both group and private ski and snowboard lessons however, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 will only be offering private lessons for winter 2020/21. Prices vary depending on the what is required and the length of the lesson. Contact the school for details.


While the powder, trees and vertical on offer at Nozawa Onsen are an enticing prospect, backcountry is strictly prohibited. This can be frustrating but the rules are in place for the safety of visitors and are enforced. Should you be seen heading into unauthorised areas and are caught, expect to have your lift-pass taken from you. Backcountry guides are available in Nozawa so should you be set on heading off-piste, stay safe and take advantage of that service.

Kids & Families

Nozawa offers a good range of facilities for children starting with the ‘Kids Park’ located at the base of the Hikage ski area. Families and children can enjoy a range of snow activities such as sleds and tubes or ride the ‘magic carpet’ free of charge between the hours of 09:00 to 16:00. To make it easy to reach the park from the main area of the village, a free ‘Naski-go’ sleigh – carriage pulled by a snowmobile – operates to and from the park and the Nagasaka Gondola. Inside the Hikage Information Centre building, ‘Yumin’ day-care is available for children aged 1 to 6, and costs JPY2500 for a half-day or JPY4000 for the full-day. The ‘Nasuki Room’ is located on the second-floor of the same building, providing a rest and play area of children and families between 09:00 and 16:00.

Accommodation & Village Info

Nozawa Onsen village offers a wide-range of accommodation options including large hotels, traditional ‘ryokan’ (guesthouses), private accommodation and budget/basic ski lodges. As one of Nagano’s most popular resorts, accommodation is likely to be fully-booked on weekends and holidays so make sure to plan ahead or aim for weekdays, when the resort should be notably less crowded. While the village isn’t that big, it is spread-out along the base of ski fields and can be regarded as three areas: the Nagasaka / central village area, the Hikage / north village area, and the Karasawa / south village area. Each part of the village has it’s positives and appeal with the most important consideration, how far do you want to walk to the ski fields, gondolas and nightlife? See our ‘Where to Stay in Nozawa’ page for more details.


As the name suggests, Nozawa is a traditional hot spring town and to this today, multiple public onsen are spread through the town for the free use of visitors and residents. When using the facilities please be sure to follow the usual etiquette and be mindful that many residents use the facilities on a daily basis. Many guesthouses have their own hot springs with a couple of paid facilities also available – a great way to unwind after a long day on the mountain. After dark, Nozawa has a lively scene with lots of restaurants and bars to choose from. The popularity of the resort for international visitors has grown massively in recent years, with plenty of restaurants and bars catering to Western tastes. Continue this trend to continue with more and more establishments in the village being bought for renewal. This has positives and negatives as Nozawa tries to cling onto its traditional character and appeal to locals. It’s a tricky balancing act…



Nozawa Onsen is a reasonably-sized village spread-out along the base of ski resort. Accommodation can be found at the base of the ski runs with the majority of hotels and guesthouses found further down the hill in the main area of the village. While you can walk between most areas of the village, it’s a good idea to be clear on the exact location of your accommodation and how easy it is to access the ski runs while also avoiding unnecessarily long walks over ice and snow when heading-out at night. For detailed information, see our ‘Where To Stay In Nozawa Onsen’ page.


Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent, tour and charter operator offering a full-suite of winter services including ski/snowboard packages, accommodation, lift passes, private charters and a range of tours including both group and private options covering Nozawa Onsen:



Nozawa offers skiers and snowboarders around 300 hectares of terrain accessible via 36 trails and courses. By Japanese standards this makes Nozawa Onsen one the largest resorts in the country, ideally-suited to snowboarders and skiers who love its powder and lively village which offers plenty of dining and fun at night.. Accommodation ranges from high-end to mid-range ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), Western-style hotels, budget ski lodges and an increasing number of luxury options including self-contained chalets – PLAN & BOOK IN NOZAWA NOW!



Did you know that Nozawa Onsen is just one of the more than eighty ski resorts in Nagano and more than five hundred in Japan? Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.


On January 15th each year, Nozawa hosts one of Japan’s most famous fire festivals – the Nozawa Onsen Dosojin. Officially taking place over three days, the festival reaches its climax on the night of 15th, when a large wooden shrine is simultaneously attacked and defended by men of the village. The festival draws large crowds who come to revel in the raucous display which ends with the shrine being set alight – a striking event in the deep cold and snow. Should you wish to stay in Nozawa around the 15th, make sure to book well in advance as accommodation will be fully occupied many months before the festival. Alternatively, for guests staying in Hakuba or Nagano City, our 1-Day Nozawa Fire Festival & Snow Monkeys Tour combines the festival with a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park and early-dinner – a great way to enjoy one of Japan’s most famous winter festivals.



Our ‘How to Get to Nozawa Onsen – Nagano Ski Resorts Info’ page provides information on how to reach Nozawa from locations including Nagano Station, Tokyo and the airports. For many if not most visitors, using the Hokuriku Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Iiyama Station – via Nagano – will be a convenient option. Located around 20 to 25-minutes from the resort, Iiyama Station (top image) is easy to reach from Tokyo and the airports. Once at Iiyama, the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus runs directly from the station to the resort with multiple services each day in winter. Arriving in the main village, the bus will drop you at the Nozawa Onsen Chuo Bus Terminal from where it’s an easy walk to most accommodation in the central area. Nozawa is a self-contained village and resort with almost all areas of interest accessible on-foot.


Visitors wanting to combine their visit to Nozawa with some of Nagano’s other fantastic resorts including Shiga Kogen – Japan’s largest and highest ski resort – or the multiple ski fields of Hakuba Valley, might look at including private transport in their plans; for more details, see the following section



As one of Nagano’s top tour operators, we are proud to provide a number of services including tours and private charters, starting from Nozawa Onsen. With so much to do in Central Japan, the easiest way to make the best of your time is to leave the planning to us!

Offering pick up from multiple locations in Nozawa, this fun and educational tour brings you to the Jigokudani Monkey Park to get up close and personal with the famous hot spring loving snow monkeys. After that, you will be treated to a tasty Japanese lunch before visiting Nagano City and the historic Zenko-ji temple, one of Japan’s oldest and most important Buddhist sites.

For a more personalized experience, you and your group can book our private tour of the Monkey Park and Zenko-ji Temple. With a guide and vehicle set apart for the whole day to tend to only your group, you can go at your own pace and have the guide’s undivided attention. You may also store any luggage you have in the vehicle throughout the day, taking the hassle out of getting around.


Beyond just tours, we also offer private charters using our fleet of clean and modern vehicles. With door-to-door service, we can pick up you up from where you are and take you to where you want to go anywhere in Central Japan and neighboring regions. Attaching a guide and making your day out into a private tour for just your group is also possible, and a great option if you would like to go somewhere that isn’t included in one of our other tours. For more information, please click HERE to check availability and pricing for your trip.