Seeing the temples and shrines in Nozawa Onsen village is a true highlight.
Nozawa Onsen view from the ski resort. A compact village which is easy to navigate on foot.
Nozawa Onsen is a compact village with everything you will need within walking distance along heated streets; this includes the ski resort which can be accessed by foot or by a short trip on the free ski shuttle bus. To walk from one side of Nozawa Onsen to the other takes around 15 minutes; you cannot go too wrong no matter which area of the village you choose to stay. With a little research you can find the area which suits you best.
As a general rule, If you choose to stay next to the ski resort chairlifts, you will have a longer walk to the village amenities such as restaurants, hot springs, shops etc. If you stay in the centre of the village, you will have a longer walk to the ski resort. Anyone who is fit enough to ski all day will have no problem walking around the village or accessing the ski resort.
Are there any exceptions? Yes there are. Nakao (Karasawa area) and Shinyu areas in Nozawa Onsen village have restaurants, cafes, rental shops etc, all within a few minutes walk of a chairlift to access the ski resort which means the best of both worlds; less walking uphill in ski gear and easy access to all village amenities (great areas to stay for those with kids). It should also be noted that staying next to the Yu-road escalator is another exception, although includes quite a steep walk to most village amenities.
Pros of staying in the village centre:
1. Easy walking to restaurants, cafes, shops, hot springs and temples. All of these highlights in the compact, traditional village set Nozawa Onsen apart from other ski resorts in Japan.
2. Late arrival for check-ins. Accommodation in the village can be accessed by walking, bus or taxi, even late at night.
3. Two areas of the village (Nakao and Shinyu) also have a chairlift, which give you the best of both worlds.
4. A free ski shuttle bus runs between the village and the ski resort, helpful if skiing with children.
Cons of staying in the village centre:
1. Walking to the ski resort gondola or chairlifts is usually uphill, in ski gear.
2. If you are staying right in the village centre, in an area with nightlife (O-yu area for example) there is a chance of loud people on the streets late at night.
3. If you decide to take the free shuttle bus to the ski resort, it can fill up quickly on weekends and public holidays (although extra buses do run during these times). Overall, this free bus service is very convenient if you are staying in a lower part of the village.
One of many festivals taking place in the Nozawa Onsen village. Not only in the day time but in the evenings too.
One of 13 hot springs in Nozawa Onsen village. Very necessary after a long day skiing. Easily accessed from all accommodations in the village, open from 6am until 11pm.
Pros of staying closer to the ski resort:
1. Less walking in uncomfortable ski boots. After skiing, get changed and walk to the village in more comfortable clothing/shoes, or choose a restaurant closer by if unable to walk far. There are some restaurant options open at night closer to the ski resort.
2. Quieter than staying in the village centre.
Cons of staying closer to the ski resort:
1. The village itself is a highlight in Nozawa Onsen. Staying closer to the ski resort usually means you will need to walk further to access village amenities. If you stay even further up on the snow, this can be quite difficult or impossible, especially during a blizzard late at night.
2. Arrival to your accommodation for check-in may not be possible during certain hours, especially if the accommodation is located on the snow. Regular taxis or cars cannot reach these areas. Make sure you contact your accommodation prior to booking and time your arrival to suit that of the accommodation. Otherwise you may end up needing to book somewhere else in the village for your first night.
When staying in Nozawa Onsen, you are never too far from either the village centre or the ski resort. Should you have any questions about where to stay, please feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help.
Snowboarder walking from the village centre up to the Yu-road escalator. Staying in this area is convenient in the evening as there are many restaurants, cafes and shops, however requires a steep walk up to the ski resort.
Staying next to the Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort means less walking in ski boots. This is the Nagasaka gondola area during a blizzard. Walking to the village centre takes longer from this area, especially the walk home which is uphill.