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.
Nozawa Onsen continues to become increasingly popular with visitors from overseas. While in recent years there has been a real international presence developing in Nozawa, the village still manages to retain 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.
A few seasons ago a new course opened at the top of Skyline allowing you to ski or board down without needing to take the connecting lift. The big news for the 2020-2021 season is the replacing of the old Nagasaka Gondola with the debut of the 'New' Nagasaka Gondola. The old gondola had a mid-station and change in direction but the brand new gondola lift goes directly from base to the top area of Nozawa Onsen.
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 and other languages 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 sledding and tubing.
The 'Yumin' day care service is available in the Hikage Information Centre building and suitable for children ages 1-6. Charges are 2,500 yen for a half day and 4,000 yen for a full day. Open from 19th December until 28th March 2021.
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. Open from 19th December 2020 until 28th March 2021 and available to folk using the day care service, kids park or kids school.
There is also a free indoor 'Nasuki Room' rest/play room on the 2nd Floor of the Hikage Information Centre building and is open from 9:00am until 4:00pm.
The 'Uenotaira Snow Park' 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 in early May.
There is also 110m half pipe on the lower part of the Uenotaira area. Usually open from late December through late March.
Other activities include a winter 'Zip Skyride', cat tour and snowshoeing.
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 normally from 8:30am until 4:30pm in the daytime during the main season (from 8:30am until 4:00pm from opening until 31st January 2021).
Night skiing operations are normally on Saturdays during the period 19th December 2020 until 27th March 2021. Also over the New Year (29th December through 2nd January) and on 10th January 2021.
The Utopia pair, Challenge pair, Yunomine pair and Mizunashi pair lifts generally do not operate on normal weekdays throughout the season.
Nozawa Onsen Lift Ticket Charges
Junior High School age & under
60 years & over
1 Lift Coupon
Season Ticket (all)
Season Ticket (from March)
2020-2021 Season Lift Tickets
A special ticket is required for night skiing (not included in the normal day tickets), but night skiing can be enjoyed using a Season Ticket.
Riding the Gondola back down is free.
Cheaper early season (12th-18th December 2020) and Spring season (29th March until 9th May 2021) tickets are available.
12th-18th December 2020 1 day ticket: 3,800 yen (adults); 2,100 yen (children); 3,000 yen (seniors)
29th March until 9th May 2021 1 day ticket: 4,100 yen (adults); 2,300 yen (children); 3,300 yen (seniors) 4 hours ticket: 3,500 yen (adults); 1,900 yen (children); 2,800 yen (seniors) Sightseeing gondola return: 1,500 yen (adults); 900 yen (children)
Special tickets including meal coupons and family packs are also available.
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 small 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.
Other bus services from Iiyama Station are available going to Nozawa Onsen and also nearby Madarao Kogen.
There is also a free shuttle bus that goes around the village.
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. It takes about 25 minutes from the IC exit.
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.
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