Best Places to Stay in Zao Onsen
Known for its striking snow-wrapped trees – the legendary ‘snow monsters’ of Zao – Zao Onsen is a good-sized ski resort serviced by a traditional hot spring village. As such, there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from when planning your visit to Zao. On this page you will find the following information:
Referred to as ‘juhyo’, the ‘snow monsters’ appear at the top of Zao Onsen Ski Resort each winter and draw visitors from all over the world. Formed by constant blasts of cold air, ice and snow originating in Siberia, the snow monsters are reason enough for many people to make the journey to Zao Onsen. You are free to ride between the trees as you begin your descent down long ski runs, the longest of which stretches 9 to 10km making it one of the longest in Japan.
On-piste the action is pretty mellow, best-suited to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. As a historic hot spring town, Zao Onsen affords the chance to enjoy the comfort and relaxation of traditional ‘onsen’ guesthouses with plenty of accommodation to choose from.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZAO ONSEN?
Zao Onsen Ski Resort is a relatively large resort – by Japanese standards – offering 186 hectares of terrain, accessible via 25 ski runs and serviced by 2 ropeways, 1 gondola and 31 chairlifts. Sitting between 880 to 1661 metres above sea level on the flanks of Mount Zao, an active volcano, the village is blessed with an abundant supply of natural thermal water. Public bathhouses are dotted throughout the village while many guesthouses have in-house baths for the exclusive use of guests. When visiting Zao Onsen there’s no shortage of accommodation options including ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), larger hotels and family-run lodges. There are several high-end options within walking distance of the ski resort, along with mid-range and budget options. Pricing varies accordingly and given that the village services the most popular ski resort in the region, prices are high through winter.
As a traditional hot spring village, most accommodation will come with the option of including both dinner and breakfast, with most also serving traditional ‘kaiseki’ (multi-course) menus. Many if not most will also offer Japanese-style rooms only with shared bathing facilities. Enjoying a traditional guesthouse stay while in Japan is a real highlight but understandably won’t appeal to everyone so make sure to also check those details prior to booking and should you want Western-style amenities, look for a larger hotel rather than small guesthouse. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Zao Onsen Ski Resort’ hotel page.
TOHOKU SKI RESORTS: THE STATS & FACTS
Though they might not be as well-known as the resorts of Nagano, Niigata and Hokkaido, the ski resorts of Tohoku offer some excellent skiing and snowboarding and a different atmosphere to the more developed and international resorts of Japan. Our ‘Best Tohoku Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know including all the stats and facts about Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai, Appi Kogen Ski Resort and Zao Onsen Ski Resort.
HOW TO GET TO ZAO ONSEN
Though located at distance from Tokyo, Zao Onsen is easy to get to thanks to the Yamagata Shinkansen. Running along the Tohoku Shinkansen line to Fukushima and then onto Yamagata Station, it takes between 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Yamagata, from where it’s a 40 minute bus ride to the resort. Our ‘How to Get to Bandai, Zao Onsen & Appi Kogen’ page has detailed information about how to get there and the other resorts of Tohoku.
JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Did you know that the resorts of Tohoku are just some of the hundreds spread throughout Japan? Needless to say, when you choose Japan 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.