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Recently we went to Zao and had a good time. A friend is coming to visit towards the latter part of March, and we're thinking of doing a little skiing. I've done Shiga Kogen, Happo-One in Hakuba, and Zao--

 

I'm debating whether to take him back to Zao, or to try Nozawa Onsen (something new). Anyone have any pros or cons about these spots?

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I haven't been to Zao, but if I were choosing between the two I would choose Zao. Not because I don't like Nozawa, it is actually my favorite, but because I always like to try new places. So I think you should go to Nozawa. That make sense?

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Nozawa that late in the season might not be at its best. Not been to Zao so I can't comment, but I have a feeling it will be colder so better.

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Thanks, all--for the feedback. It seems like Zao is the unanimous choice. Being further north it may have better snow at that time. We stayed at a great hotel there, which had one of the best rotemburos I've been to in Japan. Thanks again.

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Take him surfing brah....

 

I've got friends coming out in 2 weeks from the states. 'We'll do a little skiing, but he will bust anyone on heree at surfing

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Speaking of Nozawa, my buddies and I will head up there the first weekend of March. It looks absolutely huge...any tips on how to approach it in order to maximize my enjoyment(not off-piste, though)? ;\) Also, what`s a good spot for soaking afterward? mtia

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snoboyaro-- which weekend- the 8th? anyways, the best approach is going all the way up to the top yamabiko lines first thing in the morning before they get too chopped up. after a bit of that, take the nice long skyline run back to the gondola a few times. then head over to the challenger run, then hit the park some (at top of pod gondola), grab some food at mos burger (near the bottom of the pod gondola), and do the mizunashi/panoramic runs. then skyline back to the carpark. should leave you nice and tired. kurhaus is a really nice onsen, but a bit expensive. haven't been to too many others in the town.

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I have been to Zao a few times on my travels to Japan, and think it is a wonderful place. I've never been to Nozawa.

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Yaro!

 

The free onsens don't provide anything (soap, towels etc.) so take your own if you want to go. They're also tiny. The ones we went to didn't have showers so you have to scoop up the water with a bowl. They might be a bit too primitive for some people. At busy times, I would imagine that they get very busy indeed.

 

This is O-yu, which I think is the biggest one.

 

no_oyu1.jpg

 

According to the sign they had up, if you leave your board at the place next to Mos Burger, they'll hotwax it for you overnight for 1000yen. Considering how much mess you make doing it, it's good value.

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There are 12 similar free onsens. The one pictured above is very small inside, and gets very crowded around 5 pm. I'd recommend going to any of the other less well-known ones, and maybe have a few beers before you go to let the crowds thin out.

 

Can't beat them for value or atmosphere.

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I`m going on the 2nd, actually(please god, no rain). Thanks for all your input so far. I shall take them into consideration. \:\) Don`t think my friends and I will dig those freebies. We`re willing to cough up some dough in order to receive more enjoyment in return. So, where is the best place to park?

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