The town of Nozawa Onsen could not be faulted in any way or form. The accessibility from Tokyo is easy especially by the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Bullet train) from Tokyo after the Narita Express train from the airport. So you disembark just after Nagano at the nearby Japan Alps township of Iiyama and then either a bus or taxi to Nozawa Onsen.
On arrival you can see this is going to be a special experience. I arrived on the Tuesday prior to the weekend of the Dosijin Matsuri Fire Festival. Arriving late I requested a late check-in to the Tobee Rykan and it was unexpectingly easy due to the email correspondence prior. I checked in and then went out for a nightcap.
There are a few good après bars and I holed up in the Heaven Bar, extremely friendly and as I was to experience over the next week had a variety of clientele from internationals mainly Australian but also others, ie; Finnish and Japanese.
This onsen village would have to be one of the best villages I have been to anywhere in the world, be it in the European alps, NZ, Australia and even some of the best places in Asia like Kashmir or Lahdakh in India to Thimpu and other villages of Bhutan and Nepal etc.
The town is small enough to walk around and experience the onsen cooked cuisine and restaurants.
The skiing is a bonus and a different experience, I'm hooked and will be back next year.
The Fire Festival celebrated over a few days was an amazing cultural experience and made even better when I hung out with the local host family I had from the Rykan. Lots of local Iiyama saki was consumed.
The restaurants are varied and good value for money, definitely try a local meal at your Rykan with your host family whether it is I loved this very low key, well run & located family run Ryokan.
I especially loved the Japanese breakfasts and the 3 meals I had in-house, ie; Shabu Shabu, Nabemono, Kaiseki & Mizuo Sake. Thank you Mr Satou Hiroaki and Mrs Mizuho for your hospitality.
From 12 January, 2016 To 19 January, 2016
Snow condition on visit:
Unusually marginal to good with some pow off piste days, great up top though...
Things I liked:
Dosijin Matsuri Fire Festival Rykan experience Restaurants at base of ski resort for lunch Public onsens
Things I didn't like:
Over run with Australians even though it is an authentic village
Authentic Japan experience