Nozawa Onsen is the name of a small village located to the north east of Nagano city in the north east region of Nagano Prefecture, close to the border with Niigata Prefecture. It is also of course the name of the popular ski and snowboard resort located close by village - the base lifts, gondolas and courses are within walking distance. Many people refer to it as just 'Nozawa'.
Nozawa Onsen is one of the most famous ski and snowboard resorts in Japan. It first opened in 1923 with the first ski lift opening in 1950. The two gondolas were installed in 1979 (Hikage) and 1990 (Nagasaka). Much of the history of Nozawa and indeed skiing in Japan can be seen at the Japan Ski Museum that can be found by the Isemiya course, not far from the Hikage Gondola. Nozawa Onsen is famous for onsen hot springs throughout the year as well as large amounts of quality snowfall during the winter months. While in recent years Nozawa Onsen has become increasingly popular with visitors from overseas, the village still retains a traditional and quaint Japanese feel. In January every year the Dosojin Matsuri (Fire Festival) is one highlight of the season. The village was host to the biathlon events during the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.
For the 2017-2018 season, a new course is opening at the top of Skyline which means you can ski or board down without needing to take the connecting lift. More on that later...
Nagano Prefecture is located in the Chubu region of the main island of Honshu. Most of the Northern Alps, Central Alps and Southern Alps are located within Nagano (along with neighbouring prefectures). Nagano has the second highest number of ski and snowboard resorts in all of Japan and they are spread around the whole prefecture. Nagano city and many of the major ski resorts are located in the northern region.
Ski and snowboard lessons in English are available at Nozawa Onsen. For more information on lessons please check the Lessons in English page on SnowJapan.
Ski and snowboard equipment rental is available. Ski and snowboard wear rental is also available.
The main 'Kids Park' area - featuring a 'magic carpet', inflatables and other play items - is located in the Hikage area of Nozawa Onsen. Entry is free. There are a few other areas for sledging and tubing.
The ‘Nasuki-go’ service welcomes guests and takes them between the Nagasaka Station of the Nagasaka Gondola to the front of the Hikage Information Center.
The 'Yumin' day care service is available in the Hikage Information Centre building. Charges are 2,500 yen for a half day and 4,000 yen for a full day.
There free indoor 'Nasuki Room' rest/play room on the 2nd Floor of the Hikage Information Centre building.
These children facilities are open from Saturday 16th December 2017 until Sunday 1st April 2018.
The 'Uenotaira Snow Park & Halfpipe' can be found on the Uenotaira area on the upper half of the mountain, located at an elevation of 1220m-1410m. This area is covers a full 2km and opens from late December until the end of the season.
Nozawa Onsen Season & Opening Times
Typical season is from Late November until Early May
Weekends and holidays
Normally open from 8:30am until 8:00pm
Normally open from 8:30am until 5:00pm
'Nighta' (night skiing)
Weekends and holidays
Lift operations at Nozawa Onsen are generally from 8:30am until 5:00pm in the daytime during the main season (from 8:30am until 4:30pm from opening until 28th January 2018).
Nighta operations are from 5:00pm until 8:00pm on Saturdays between 16th December 2017 and 24th March 2018; 28th December until 3rd January; 7th January and 11th February 2018.
The Utopia pair, Challenge pair, Yunomine pair, Mizunashi pair lifts generally do not operate on weekdays.
Nozawa Onsen Lift Ticket Charges
Junior High School age & under
60 years & over
Afternoon (12pm-day close)
1 Lift Coupon
Season Ticket (all)
Season Ticket (from March)
A nighta ticket is required for nighta (not included in the normal day tickets), but nighta can be enjoyed using a Season Ticket.
The 1.5 Day ticket is valid for an afternoon and following day or a day and then the following morning.
Riding the Gondola back down is free.
Early & Spring tickets: Cheaper lift tickets are available for the early ski and spring ski periods:
Adult - 3,400 yen (1 day); 6,800 yen (2 days); 10,200 yen (3 days) Child - 1,700 yen (1 day); 3,400 yen (2 days); 5,100 yen (3 days) Senior - 2,600 yen (1 day); 5,200 yen (2 days); 7,800 yen (3 days)
Valid dates: from 25th November until 15th December 2017 and from 2nd April until 6th May 2018
Getting to Nozawa Onsen
By public transport
14.3km from Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line
8km from Togari Nozawa Onsen Station on the Iiyama Line
47.2km from Tokamachi Station on the Hokuhoku Line
The nearest train stations on the local Iiyama line are Kamisakai Station (4km) and Togari Nozawa Onsen Station (8km). Note that buses do not operate from these stations and so the only option from there is to take a taxi.
The large Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) line is about 14km from Nozawa Onsen.
The Nozawa Onsen Liner Bus operates from Iiyama Station to Nozawa Onsen and takes about 25 minutes.
20.1km from the Toyota Iiyama IC on the Joshinetsu Expressway
38.8km from the Myoko Kogen IC on the Joshinetsu Expressway
55km from the Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC on the Kanetsu Expressway
Nearest national route: Route 117 (4.3km away)
Nearest prefecture road: Prefecture Road 38
Nozawa Onsen is located a few kilometres off the main Route 117 road that connects Nagano city with Ojiya city in Niigata Prefecture. It is about 45km to the north east of central Nagano city and about 15km to the north east of central Iiyama city.
Most people will either approach Nozawa Onsen from the Toyota Iiyama IC of the Joshinetsu Expressway or the Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC of the Kanetsu Expressway (in Niigata Prefecture).
Approaching Nozawa Onsen from Toyota Iiyama IC (Joshinetsu Expressway):
From the Toyota Iiyama IC exit, turn right onto Route 117 and go through the main shopping road area of Iiyama city following the signs to Nozawa Onsen. After 15km on this road turn right onto Prefecture Road 410, just before the Lawson convenience store. Continue on this road for about 1km until reaching the traffic lights. Turn left onto Prefecture Road 38 and continue on this road into Nozawa Onsen village.
Approaching Nozawa Onsen from Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC (Kanetsu Expressway):
From Tokyo, some people choose to use the Kanetsu Expressway to head north and continue under the Tanigawadake mountain range in Gunma Prefecture into Niigata Prefecture, exiting the Kanetsu Expressway at Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC.
After exiting the toll booth at Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC, turn right and continue for 1km until reaching Route 17. Turn left onto Route 17 towards Yuzawa and after about 650m turn right onto Route 353. Continue on Route 353 for about 18km until reaching the Route 117 traffic light junction. Turn left onto Route 117 (Nozawa Onsen is on the main signpost). The turn off for Nozawa Onsen is about a further 31km. The village can be found nestled at the bottom of the mountain about 4 km off Route 117.
The journey from Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC to Nozawa Onsen is around 55km and in good conditions can be made in around one hour.
There are a number of car parks close to the base of Nozawa Onsen. The Number 1 parking area at Nagasaka holds about 500 vehicles - it is free on weekdays and 1000 yen on weekends and holidays. Number 2 parking at Karasawa holds about 200 vehicles - it is free for day trips. Number 3 parking holds 400 vehicles and is also free for day trips.
There are a few other parking areas that are not quite as close to the lifts.
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