nozawa onsen

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen Guide & Information

Nozawa Onsen is located just one hour’s drive from Nagano City in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture – a charming hot spring village located at the foot of Kenashi-yama Mountain which is home to around 4,000 people. Nozawa Onsen is said to date back to 8th century but has been renowned for it’s hot springs and traditional inns since the Edo period. More recently the village has also gained popularity as a ski area that features a great variety of terrain and amazing snow that’s hard to match.

Nozawa Onsen Accommodation

There is nothing like combining light Japanese powder snow with a rich cultural experience and a deep soaking onsen. The village caters to this perfectly with a wide range of Nozawa accommodation including ryokan & traditional inns, budget accommodation options, minshuku, pension, ski lodges, hotels, inns or self-contained apartment lodgings.

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Nozawa Onsen offers more than just a ski trip though – experience not only the culture, food, famous hot springs and the renowned fire festival – but also the ambience and great après ski which sets Nozawa apart from other areas. The village features some amazing traditional architecture with temples, shrines, hot spring establishments, traditional ryokan and free foot baths along many of it’s streets. Even though the village is small there can be over 100 restaurants and bars open during ski season – from well known western-style bars to small hole in the wall shokudo. Any visitors fortunate enough to be in Nozawa early in the New Year (January 15th) should not miss the Dosoujiin Fire Festival, one of the most famous and exciting fire festivals in Japan.

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Japan Powder Heaven

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: General Information

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is a large ski area that opened over seventy years ago. As seen in the picture below, Nozawa Onsen Village is located at the foot of the Nozawa Onsen ski resort, which spans across three main areas. There is plenty of terrain to explore, offering over fifty kilometres of trails or pistes beginning at an elevation of 1085 meters with 297 hectares of skiing surface. One of the pluses of skiing at Nozawa is that there really is something for everybody (see stats below). There are family friendly wide open pistes, some difficult mogul runs plus it offers some great powder days between the marked runs too. Active skiers will find a terrain park with jumps, rails, boxes and an eighty metre pipe to get the adrenalin pumping.

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Families

If you are at Nozawa Ski Resort with children there is a free rest station for kids called the ‘Naski Room’ on the 2nd floor of the Hikage Trail Information Centre which is easily accessible from the village via the moving ‘Yu-road’ (free of charge) – see the map links below for more details. Outside the centre there is a safe and secure Kids Park. This fully equipped park has many facilities such as an inflatable bouncer, junior sled rides and tubing courses. A day care with fully qualified child care workers is available on the second floor of the Hikage Centre for children 1 to 6 years old. The hours are 9:00~12:00 & 13:00~16:00 (you must collect your child during lunch). The charge is ¥4,000 for the first day and ¥3,000 from the second day on for those who continue to use the service for multiple days. There are also half day and hourly rates available depending on capacity (maximum 20).

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Trail Maps

See this maps page for the layout of the village and ski areas or, even better, our extensive google map page.

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Key Information

Resort altitude: Top – 1,650 metres Bottom – 565 metres
Season dates, times: Mid December till early May Day: 08:30 – 16:30 Nighta: ~20:00
No. of lifts, courses: 21 (Eighteen chair lifts, one moving walkway and two gondolas) 36 Courses
Skill level: Beginner 40% Intermediate 30% Advanced 30%

Nozawa Onsen Snow Depth & Conditions

Nozawa Onsen Snow Report

Check out our regular snow, ski and weather reports directly from Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Ski School and Ski Rentals

Fill in the form here to arrange your Nozawa Onsen ski school lessons and ski rentals

Nozawa Fire Festival, Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri

The next Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival will be held on January 15th, 2018. It is held on the same date every year.

Looking for accommodation or hotels for the Nozawa Fire Festival? Click here!

Fire and snow always go well and the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri (or 野沢温泉の道祖神祭り in Japanese), exemplifies this as one of the three great fire festivals in Japan. The old roads that run like rivers between mountain towns in Japan are dotted with gods. Known as dosojin, they are deities of roads and borders with their stone statues usually enshrined at village borders. Dosojin are good gods for the foreign traveller.

Dosoujin Matsuri in Nozawa OnsenIt takes roughly one hundred villagers to build the shrine for the Nozawa Fire Festival. The trees are cut down in October and brought down from the mountain and through the village on January 13th prior to being made into a huge wooden structure or shaden. After the shaden has been constructed, the priest from Kosuge shrine performs a ceremony endowing it with a dosojin. The highlight on January 15th is a “fire-setting battle” which ends up with the setting fire of the shaden with blazing torches by the offensive team and the offering of torches to the deity, making the festival truly spectacular and exciting. The entire festival is quite lengthy and can take up to four hours from the beginning to the end. Some observers gather just for the main attraction which is the battle between the guards and the torch bearing villagers. Add liberal servings of saké to all of the above and you’re sure to go home buzzing after seeing quite a spectacle – and maybe a bit scorched from the flames (don’t wear your new down jacket). The famous Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is nationally designated as an important intangible folk cultural property. It originally began as an invocation for a good harvest, health and good fortune in the coming year, but has been expanded to include a good ski season as well. Taking place on January 15th every year, the festival is staged by men aged 42 and 25 (so-called “unlucky ages”) to celebrate the birth of a family’s first child, to dispel evil spirits and also to pray for happy marriage. If you want to see more detailed background information on the Nozawa Fire Festival check this excellent local perspective.

If you are coming to the Dosojin Matsuri book early! Accommodation for the Nozawa Fire Festival fills up fast.

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Akakura Kanko Hotel Onsen town Japan Guide Lake Nojiri Matsumoto Castle, Nagano, Japan zenkoji temple nagano myoko kogen japan

Myoko Kogen: Explore The Heart of Japan

Welcome to Myoko Kogen and Myoko City (Myoko-shi) – ‘The Heart of Japan’. The city is located on the border of Nagano and Niigata Prefectures within easy reach of Tokyo (See: Access).

Recommended reading: Twelve things to do in Myoko Kogen

myoko kogen kanji in japanese

Myoko Kogen & Myoko City

Mount Myoko in winter - Myoko Kogen

Myoko Kogen: About the area

Dominated by the mountain for which it is named after Myoko Kogen lays in beautiful mountain surroundings near Lake Nojiri (Nojiriko) and the historical entrance to the Echigo Plains. Mt. Myoko (Myoko-san 妙高山) is listed as one of the hundred most famous mountains in Japan with it’s summit recorded as 2,454 meters above sea level.

In 1916, Myoko Kogen became nationally famous when it came first in a vote taken to find the most popular summer resort in Japan. By the 1930’s Myoko Kogen had become Japan’s first international winter resort. It is a traditional winter holiday destination for Japan’s imperial family and each year receives an average of 14 metres of snow!

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The ‘Snow Country’ of Niigata is famous throughout Japan and has inspired countless writers, poets and artists. In 2005 the town of Myoko Kogen merged with Arai City and Myoko Village to form the new ‘Myoko City’. Unlike many of the modern ski towns in Japan that followed later, Myoko Kogen grew up around its mountain, rather than for it – and the quaint and traditional small-town feeling still remains strong today.

Tokyo - Great hotels at reasonable prices

Myokokogen is ‘twinned’ to Zermatt in Switzerland, and is central to the nearby local mountain villages of Suginosawa, Akakura, Sekigawa, Tsubame Onsen, plus several others. This central location provides an excellent base for visiting the many Myoko attractions in the surrounding countryside (see: Access). The Myoko Kogen area possesses the largest campground in Japan which can take up to 3,000 people! With more than 200 establishments there are also plenty of different types of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets – both within the town area and on the mountain.

Myoko Kogen is truly ‘The Heart of Japan’ and a place for all four seasons. 

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Ski Myokokogen - The Heart of Japan

Myoko Kogen: Skiing & Snowboarding

Options in Myoko Kogen’s powder snow are almost endless. Founded in the 1930’s, Myoko is one of the oldest established ski areas in the world with snow walls sometimes building up to more more than three metres high at the height of the season. With its rich history, you have the ideal holiday place to enjoy a total Japan ski resort experience. The Myoko Ski Area is made up of ten mountains: Myoko Akakura Onsen, Akakan Resort (a.k.a. Akakura Kanko or Shin-Akakura), Ikenotaira OnsenMyoko Suginohara (which boasts the longest ski run in Japan), Seki Onsen, Kyukamura, Myoko Ski ParkAPA Resort Myoko Pine Valley (presently closed), Madarao Kogen and Tangram Ski Circus, all with their own distinctive and special features. With great quality powder snow, terrain parks, refreshing long runs and kids parks / child care for small children, the Myoko Kogen Ski Area has something for all skiers. See Ski the Heart of Japan – our dedicated Myoko skiing site for more details. A number of famous alpine sports people have their origin or received their training in Myoko City. Myoko was rated one of the world’s best ski resorts by The Telegraph (U.K.)

See the Myoko Kogen video here.

Myoko Kogen Weather, Myoko City

Myoko Kogen Webcams

Myoko City Office – for more Myoko Kogen webcams see here city office - myoko kogen webcams

Attractions & things to do in Myoko Kogen

Most of Myoko Plateau has been designated as National Park territory and approximately 80% of the town area is covered in forest. Mt. Myoko is the highest peak of the Myoko volcano range and is surrounded by the outer rim of the crater, Mt. Akakura, Mt. Mae, and Mt. Kanna. It’s onsen (hot springs) are the place to unwind – Myoko Onsen, Akakura Onsen, Suginosawa Onsen, Ikenotaira Onsen, Tsubame Onsen, Seki Onsen, and more. Jigoku-dani valley between Mt. Myoko and Mt. Mae is the rich source of the local onsen hot springs. The water is taken from Jigoku-dani Valley and provided to the eight spa areas of Myoko-onsen: Akakura, Shin-Akakura, Ikenotaira, Suginosawa, Myoko, Seki, Tsubame and Matsugamine.   Nature abounds here and, whatever the season, there are always plenty of things to do. See the attractions and activities page for some of these. And when the snow melts there are plenty of golf courses to choose from and mountain retreats away from the summer heat. You can also visit historical monuments, the excavation museum or the Ukiyoe museum. Looking for something to eat? There are more than forty restaurants scattered throughout the area serving a selection of Japanese and Western meals. Don’t miss the sasazushi (sushi on bamboo leaves), takenoko jiru (bamboo shoots and miso soup), local soba noodles or native mountain vegetables, as well as the sake (rice wine) and koshihikari rice that Niigata is famous for. See our shopping page for more ideas.

Japan Monkey Onsen Park – Click here


Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑 Jigokudani Yaen Kōen) a.k.a. Snow Monkey Onsen in Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan


Myoko Kogen Accommodation

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Want to look up a local area within Myoko? Click here for the maps page or check our interactive map guide.

Myoko Kogen Reviews:

At the foot of Mt Myoko in Niigata Prefecture is a href=””>one of the world’s oldest established ski areas in the world. Apart from its 13-metre annual snowfall and abundant ski areas, it’s not hard to spot the appeal. The area has a reputation for stunning beauty amid stark natural contrasts. For those skiers seeking adventure Suginohara slopes have a vertical drop of around 1124m. A signature part of the Mt Myoko scenery is the intimate run through thick beech and aspen forests. Myoko has a children’s park and on-slope daycare facilities for those travelling with children to ensure a relaxing holiday. Also available is a guided tour through the forest which introduces participants to a wide range of Japanese flora and fauna, including adorable tanuki (raccoons). At the end of the day, the public or hotel onsen (hot springs) await to relax and revitalise. More Myoko Kogen reviews here!

Myoko Kogen History:

In 1916, Myoko Kogen became nationally famous when it came first in a vote taken to find the most popular summer resort in Japan. The beginning of Myoko Kogen’s history began when groups such as Tokyo University Red Gate Club and the Keio Mita Club started skiing practice at the foot of Mt. Myoko. The local people welcomed the students and named their practice area “University Slope.” In 1922, the Akakura Ski Club was formed and skiing started taking root in the region. It was through this that Myoko Kogen began it’s journey as an all-year-round mountain resort.

In 1937, the now famous Akakura Kanko Hotel opened for business. At that time the tourist bureau of the Ministry of Railways had been widely promoting sightseeing in Japan to the outside world and the establishment was planned to be a main means for attracting visiting foreign tourists. During plans for the hotel construction, the owner (Okura Kishichiro) flew to Switzerland to observe similar European mountain hotels. The Akakura Kanko Hotel was born as a modern resort hotel, and at that time it was the only one of its kind in Japan. With this hotel as a nucleus, Akakura became a resort area clearly distinguished from any other at that time.

In 1950, wooden pole lifts were constructed in the Akakura and Ikenotaira areas. The local districts below Mt. Myoko then went into full-scale development and eventually grew to its present-day scale as Myoko Kogen. During that time, numerous national ski championships were successfully held in Akakura. With the inauguration of the Nagano Shinkansen, Myoko Kogen became a 150 minute ride from Tokyo and with the subsequent completion of the Joshinetsu Expressway, it also became possible to easily drive to Myoko directly from the greater Tokyo area.

Interesting facts about Myoko Kogen: Godzilla Goes Myoko!

Myoko Kogen is featured in the 2001 movie – Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (a.k.a. “Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju sokogeki”)

Synopsis: Fifty years after his initial onslaught, Godzilla is all but forgotten by many people. While Yuri Tachibanan is filming a special docu-drama about Mt. Myoko, the head of the local village tells them to stop filming such lies. When Yuri tries to discuss with him about how it will be good for tourism, a tremor hits. Afterwards, Yuri spots an old man on in area and when she looks back, he disappears!

That night, a biker gang is killed during a tunnel cave-in, and the truck driver witnessing the event sees a giant head looking back at him. While the D-03 missiles (special missiles with drills at the head) are being used to uncover the tunnel, the driver is interrogated about what he saw. He claims he saw Godzilla. Yuri tries to convince her boss to cover the odd occurrence, but he declines. Later her advisor, Teruaki Takeda, brings her a book about a local legend: a group of legendary creatures known as the Guardian Monsters.

Myoko Kogen Galleries – Click here

Myoko Kogen Hot Springs woodblock painting

Synopsis: Travel to Myoko City / Myoko-shi and see Myoko-kogen / Myokokogen – which is a.k.a. Myouko or Myokou. Ski Myoko and find Myoko Hotels. Note: Spelling can also be rendered as Myouko Kogen, Myoko Kohgen or Myokou Kogen. Myoko City is also known as Myoko-shi