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Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort Guide

Nozawa Onsen, Japan

Rated: 4/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForExpert Skiers, Intermediates, Beginners, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Total Piste Length19 miles
Highest Lift5,413ft
Resort Height1,854ft
 Nearest AirportNiigata
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Nozawa Onsen

One of Japan's oldest, largest and least spoilt resorts, with lifts going out in all directions from the village. Legendary Austrian Hannes Schneider from Arlberg came here a century ago to teach skiing.


The Japanese ski resort of Nozawa Onsen is at an altitude of 1,854ft, with 19 miles of marked runs.

Nozawa Onsen has direct access to 19 miles of downhill skiing, with 20 marked pistes, served by a total of 27 ski lifts.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Nozawa Onsen?

There is currently no significant snow in the 7-day forecast for Nozawa Onsen.

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Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Nozawa Onsen

Ski Area Stats

Nozawa Onsen Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
 8 4 miles
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
 5 11 miles
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
 7 19 miles
Total Length
19 miles
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Nozawa Onsen Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift5,413ft
Lowest Trail1,854ft
Resort Altitude (Nozawa Onsen)1,854ft
Max Vertical3,560ft

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Nozawa Onsen
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Nozawa Onsen Overview

Nozawa is the oldest of Japan's ski areas, particularly significant when you consider the country has the most ski areas of any in the world, with over 600 'proper' areas. There are believed to be several thousand more places with one or two drag lifts. The resort had been famous for many centuries because of its numerous hot springs but leapt in to the winter sports arena.

Legendary Austrian Hannes Schneider from Arlberg came here in 1930 to teach skiing, six years after the resort had built its first ski run. The village had already seen people using the traditional form of skiing on long skis with a single pole before Mr Schneider arrived to teach them the modern version of the sport.

Apart from being Japan's oldest skiing centre it is also the biggest 'genuine village' resort in Japan, attracting about a million skiers annually. Although there are bigger resorts in the country, they invariably follow the model of most North American resorts - being owned by large corporations with rigid quality controls that can detract from any ambience the area might have. Not so at Nozawa where the municipal council owns the lifts on behalf of the population of 5000. The practical upshot is that the local population care about and are proud of their village and their skiing. It also means that you can get a vast range of traditional accommodations, shops and a mountain area with many interesting and unique facets - varied restaurants dotted all over the slopes for example rather than bland cafeteria style places.

Nozawa's significance has meant it has staged numerous international competitions over the years including the Nagano Olympics of 1998 when Nozawa was the venue for the biathlon events. The resort's ski club trains skiers for competition and has sent 11 competitors to the Winter Olympics from the village since 1956. Twice decorated Nordic Combined gold medalist Takanori Kono and ski jumper Jinya Nishikata are amongst the local Olympians. Mr Schneider should be proud of his legacy, which amongst the many benefits already mentioned, includes one of Japans best skiing mountains with some insanely steep runs in a country that again has been stereotyped for rather bland skiing, and plenty to excite less able skiers also.

 Notable Ski Runs

The longest possible descent in Nozawa Onsen is 6 miles long and the most difficult run is the 'The Challenge Wall'.


Nozawa is generally regarded as one of Japan's best ski areas with 27 lifts, 25 of them chairs and two of them gondolas. There are trails for all standards from wonderful beginner skiing to exceptionally steep expert terrain - the latter especially rare in Japan. The hourly uplift of around 45,000 skiers rivals North America's biggest ski areas like Aspen and Vail. In common with the Japanese norm however along with the state of the art quads, gondolas and an escalator for skiers enclosed within a glass corridor of which the resort is particularly proud, there are some antiquated single and double chairs still operating.

Beginners have plenty of wide flat terrain, especially the 3km long Silver Karasawa run. Intermediates also have a big choice, although the resort's most famous trail, the 5km long Skyline, that runs from top to bottom with great views, can be over crowded. For experts there are tough runs from the Mukobayashi chair which accesses the tough 'Jumping' mogul field and the steep narrow Grand Prix route.

You can ski off piste beyond the ski area boundary over the back of the mountain, but try to find a guide to take you. There are several other powder fields between the trails for those who wish to ignore the 'Do Not enter unless you're A good skier' signs. Talking of 'signs' they're generally better than the Japanese norm and are quite often in English.

Apart from downhill there is night skiing and a small amount of cross-country.

There are a variety of pistes to suit all levels of skier ability, from Beginner to Expert.


Snowboarders have traditionally been given a hard time in Japan, being forced to pay to take a test to prove they're competent on a board before even being allowed on the snow at the few ski areas that did accept 'boarders. However that scenario is changing fast and indeed Japan was the first country to build an indoor year-round snowdome for boarders only. However 'boarding at Nozawa was still limited to certain areas and even there it was curtailed on busy days up to 2001 when restrictions were largely lifted and a board park and half pipe addded..

Location and Map

Where is Nozawa Onsen?

This ski resort is in Nagano, Japan.


Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Nozawa Onsen is Niigata, 162 minutes drive away.

International arrivals are typically from the Tokyo airports of Narita or Haneda via a 1 hr 40 min Bullet Train ride to Iiyama Station, then a 20 min ride on the Onsen Liner shuttle bus to the village. There's also a bus service from both Tokyo area airports.


Ski Lift Capacity

The 27 ski lifts are able to uplift 41,510 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Season Dates

When is Nozawa Onsen open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is early December, and usual closing is Early May.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Nozawa Onsen, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Nozawa Onsen Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Nozawa Onsen

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

In a country which is generally regarded as having little or no après ski scene except possibly for karaoke bars, Nozawa has a wide range of bars, restaurants and indeed karaoke joints - all very Japanese with little Western influence or atmosphere, ideal for those looking for cultural immersion.

Most short-term visitors will likely want to initially spend time wandering a long the narrow streets and visiting either the spectacular Aqua Dome swimming complex or one of the public hot springs baths. You might even take a wander over to the boiling hot Ogama spring where villagers still communally cook vegetables and boil eggs. If you happen to be in Nozawa in mid-January the Dosojin Fire Festival is a spectacular event to participate in and is staged annually.

Nozawa Onsen