Nozawa Onsen terrain

Nozawa Onsen is one of the largest skiing resorts in Japan. It consists of 50km of ski runs on 300 hectares, with an impressive vertical drop of about 1085m. This is however broken up into different sections, eliminating consistent top to bottom runs. The resort has many long runs, with enough snow, lots of fresh tracks, and a respectable off piste area. The resort is a better draw for beginners and advanced skiers, with lots of runs ideal for these levels.

The season at Nozawa Onsen typically runs between late November to early May, with January and February having the best powder.

The resort is served by a good lift infrastructure, which total up to 20 lifts. These include two gondolas, 5 quad chairs, and double and triple chairs. Lift passes vary between full day and 3 day passes, with some available for night skiing.

Skiing at Nozawa Onsen

Beginners can head to the three bases at Hikage, Karasawa, and Nagasaka. The 2 km long Uenotaira course is a beginner’s paradise, while those with more confidence can tackle the winding 5km Rinkan course. There are a couple of good courses for intermediates at the Yamabiko ski area. The Sky Line Trail and the Challenge course are also great for intermediates.

For advanced skiers, Nozawa Onsen is heaven, and features some of the steepest terrain in the country. There are great black runs here, including Utopia, Challenge, Schneider, Grandprix, and Kokura. The off piste areas will offer even better skiing for advanced skiers.

There is great tree skiing at the Sky Line Ridge, as well as steeper lines in the sidecountry that should impress expert skiers. The backcountry at Nozawa Onsen is not one to be sniffed at, especially with dangerous cliffs in the area.

There is a small terrain park, with a few boxes, kickers, and rails. A kid’s base is located at the Hikage base, which is popular with families. A half pipe does form at Uenotaira at times.

The Nozawa onsens

The natural hot springs at Nozawa were discovered in the 8th century. Soaking at the onsens has been a part of the culture ever since. The geothermal activity provides 30 hot springs to the ryokans and sotoyus, or public baths. Many of the onsens are located within the ryokans, which feature lovely Japanese architecture.

There are about 13 public baths in the town, where you can take a dip for free. Enjoy as many onsens as you can, since each one of them vary in temperature and mineral content. Apart from the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs, onsens offer the best way of experiencing traditional Japanese culture up close.

Ski tours

There are tours that provide both sidecountry and backcountry tours of Nozawa Onsen. The nearby area of Madarao Kogen also has backcountry tours. You can check out the cross country trails on the Karasawa slopes, as well as snow cat and snowmobile sightseeing tours.