Nozawa Onsen village

Tradition, tranquility, timelessness

Nozawa Onsen maintains its traditional heritage and engages with nature sensitively. It is a village, not a resort.

Woman washing clothes at the onsen

Source: MTB Compass House

While Nozawa Onsen has been a much-loved domestic retreat for more than 200 years, over the last decade it has rapidly gained a reputation as an international vacation retreat destination.  In a typical year more than a third of the village’s guests visit from overseas, and 40% visit in the green season.

Nozawa Onsen is a working mountain community of 3,600 residents, a home to both farmers and international athletes, and deeply committed to maintaining its lifestyle and traditions, both out of respect for its ancestors and to provide a sustainable path to the future.

Woman washing clothes at the onsen

Source: MTB Compass House

While Nozawa Onsen has been a much-loved domestic retreat for more than 200 years, over the last decade it has rapidly gained a reputation as an international vacation retreat destination.  In a typical year more than a third of the village’s guests visit from overseas, and 40% visit in the green season.

Old picture of two men walking up the mountain while carrying skiing equipment

Although your property manager will take care of your community duties, such as snow clearing and onsen cleaning, you’ll become a special member of the Nozawa Gumi, the centuries-old residents’ self-governing body.

Person skiing on the Nozawa Onsen's mountains

Ski resort

Nozawa Onsen Village is located at the foot of the Nozawa Onsen ski resort, reputedly Japan's oldest ski area, with a history dating back over 100 years. Nestled within national parkland, it offers over 50 km of pistes, with 297 ha of skiing area. There are runs for all levels of skiers and boarders, a half pipe, ski jump, cross country and snowshoeing courses, and a freestyle park. The altitude of the resort is between 565m (village) and 1650m (mountain top). The overall vertical elevation available for skiing is 1085m. Easily accessible nearby resorts include Madarao, Shiga Kogen, Togari, Kijimadaira, Myoko, and more.

Hot springs

As its name suggests, Nozawa Onsen defines itself as a hot spring village; its natural onsen have been soothing visitors' tired muscles and souls for over 200 years, long before the village became a winter playground.  There are numerous natural sources dotted around the village, all with different mineral properties and therapeutic effects. Uniquely, there are 13 public onsen maintained by the respective neighbouring families for everyone's use. There are also public onsen where villagers cook vegetables, do their laundry, and - for everyone - cook "onsen tamago" soft boiled eggs.

Woman relaxing in Hot Springs
Nozawa Onsen's Fire Festival

Traditions

Tradition anchors this community to its ancestors, and provides a steady path for the future. The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, or Dosojin Matsuri, is held on 15 January every year and is one of Japan’s three major fire festivals, and is a designated national intangible cultural asset. It is a rite of passage for all males in the village, and an extraordinary spectacle for visitors. Throughout the year there are countless other festivals in the various village neighbourhoods. Almost uniquely in Japan, there is a powerful body, the Nozawa Gumi, to which all villagers belong, entrusted with maintaining the culture and traditions of the community for current and as yet unborn generations.

How to get to Nozawa Onsen

Narita airport
Haneda airport
1hr Express
25min JR Train
Tokyo
1hr 45mins Shinkansen
Iiyama
20min Bus/Taxi
Nozawa Onsen