“Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna’ Declaration” Report #2: Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort

December 12th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Shopping, Sightseeing

 — For Japanese translation of this article, click here (authorized link by Nagano Prefecture) — 

The top of Yamabiko Course is the highest point in Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort. Enjoy the great panoramic view.
Reconstructed “Rest House Yamabiko”. Enjoy food and drink in the cheerful atmosphere. The popular menu is “Nozawana Cabbage Rice Topped with Steak”.

Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration

This is “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” Report #2.  As reported in Report #1, “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” was issued in Nozawa Onsen Village by Nagano Prefectural Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry and all of Nagano’s seventy Societies of Commerce and Industry on 24th Oct, 2011.  It aims at strengthening ‘Kizuna’, which means bonds or ties, among the tourist destinations in Nagano (Shinshu) and powerfully promoting tourism and business again to cope with the influences of the earthquakes in March.

This Report #2 focuses on “Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort”, which has been fully recovered from the damage of the earthquakes.  At the time of the quake on 12th March, 2011, ceilings of the restaurant “Rest House Yamabiko” on Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort fell to the ground and some of the ski lifts got damaged.  But the ski resort made great efforts to continue its operation until the scheduled end of the previous snow season, May 2011.  Now, with “Rest House Yamabiko” beautifully reconstructed as the photo above and all the skiing facilities fully recovered, Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort is entering the 2011-2012 snow season this month with hope of welcoming many domestic and international guests. 


Fully Recovered “Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort” — A Paradise for Skiers and Snowboarders 

Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort is one of the largest skiing and snowboarding resorts in Japan with modern facilities: The longest course or slope boasts a distance of 10,000 meters; The vertical drop is 1,085 meters; The steepest slope is at 39 degrees; The number of courses is as many as 36 in addition to a snow park; Modern and comfortable ski lifts and gondolas are equipped; A variety of restaurants are waiting.  The view from the snow resort is also breath-takingly gorgeous.  When you go down the slopes, you can enjoy a great panoramic view of close and far mountains and the hot-spring downtown before your eyes.  Furthermore, the year 2012 is the 100th anniversary of introducing skiing, so there are various celebrating events.


The World’s Precious Combination — Large-Scale Ski Slopes and Traditional Hot-Spring Downtown

With my own experience of skiing and staying in Nozawa Onsen, I can say that this village is very fascinating not only for the Japanese but also for overseas visitors.  One reason is, of course, its perfectness as a skiing and snowboarding resort with large-scale slopes, high-quality snow, the beautiful scenery, and modern facilities.  The other reason is that Nozawa Onsen downtown maintains unchanged Japanese culture.  In other words, the villagers have proudly kept their own lifestyle in the mountains over a long period of time, not accommodating themselves to other cultures.  For example, they have 13 public hot-spring baths called “sotoyu” (the 14th bath will open on 15th Dec, 2011).  The village is blessed with a large amount of hot springs and the public baths are kindly opened to anyone free of charge.  When you go into such a hot-spring bath, a shop, a restaurant or an inn or walk around the streets, you can experience their traditional Japanese lifestyle and will feel human warmth.  Such experience often turns to be the most unforgettable memory of your trip.  I think it is very rare in the world for one village to have such a large-scale ski resort and a genuine traditional hot spring downtown.  Please visit revitalized Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort!


This Report #2 mainly introduced Nozawa Onsen’s attraction as a skiing and snowboarding resort.  There is more to follow in “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” Report #3.  

On Skyline Course, a 3500-meter super long slope, you can go straight down from the mountaintop with a great view of Hokushin Gogaku mountains and the hot-spring downtown.   
Ushikubi Course, looking down the hot-spring downtown, will satisfy advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Snowshoeing is another fun. While walking a snowfield, you may meet wild animals like a serow or a rabbit!



After skiing, warm yourself in a public hot-spring bath. This "Oyu" bath is well-known among the 13 baths.




Why not get famous Nozawana-zuke, or Nozawana cabbage pickles, for souvenirs?

Name of the facility NOZAWA ONSEN SNOW RESORT
Description of business Skiing and snowboarding resort
Address 7653 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-2502
  • TEL: 0269-85-3166 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0269-85-2201 (Japan country code: 81)
URL http://www.nozawaski.com/ (Click English button)
  • If by car, 25 minutes from Toyota Iiyama Interchange of Joshinetsu Expressway.
  • If train (JR Nagano Shinkansen), 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus from Nagano Station.
  • If train (JR Iiyama Line), 20 minutes by bus from Togari Nozawaonsen Station
Operating dates Dec 2011 to 6 May 2012.
Prices of Lifts and Gondolas 1 day pass: Adult JPY4,600, Children (Junior high students or younger) JPY2,100, Senior (over 60) JPY3,500.  Refer to the website for more types of tickets.
How to contact Tel or fax
General information of Nozawa Onsen Village Contact NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association. http://nozawakanko.jp/ (Click “English” button.)  FAX: 0269-85-3883   Email: info@nozawakanko.jp  

Special thanks to: Nagano Prefectural Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry, The Community of Commerce and Industry of NOZAWA ONSEN, NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association, and residents and concerned people of Nozawa Onsen Village.

How to go to the Snow Monkeys, Winter 2011/12

December 9th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

Going to see the world famous snow monkeys soak in their onsen bath at Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is an enjoyable day trip from Togura Kamiyamada Onsen and/or Nagano City. 

By car, it is an easy 1 hour drive to the trailhead.  But by public transportation, it gets a bit trickier. 

From Nagano Station, do you take the train or bus?  And if train, how do you get from the end of the line (Yudanaka Station) to the monkey park?  And which trailhead is best — Kanbayashi or from the Jigokudani parking lot?

Fortunately for all of you snow monkey fans, I sorted through all of the options and came up with the main connections.  I compiled this train / bus schedule from our local Togura Station changing at Nagano Station to go to the monkey onsen.  It is now updated it for this winter’s bus schedules.

Most of the public transportation options take you to Kanbayashi, from which it is a 30 minute walk to the monkey park.  The trail is relatively flat and goes through a beautiful cedar forest.  The patterns and color of the bark on the trees makes for a very photogenic walk.  And keep your eyes out for serrow and other wildlife (including a stray monkey or two). 

During the winter, Shibu Onsen offers the “Snow Monkey Holiday Minibus” from Yudanaka Station, stopping at Shibu Onsen on the way directly to the otherwise inaccessible Jigokudani Parking Lot.  (Info provided by my main man, Yamada-san from Shibu Hotel.  The Shibu Onsen website hadn’t been updated as of this writing.)  From there, it is only about a 15 minute walk to the Park entrance.  Although shorter in distance than from Kanbayashi, the trail is considerable steeper.

Regardless of which way you go, proper footwear is highly recommended. 

I always suggest to our guests that they take the bus from Nagano to Kanbayashi, enjoy the walk through the cedar trees to the monkey onsen.  Then on the way back, cross the river and walk down past the parking lot down the road to Shibu Onsen and on down to Yudanaka Station from where you can catch a train back to Nagano Station.  Shibu Onsen is a classic onsen resort with narrow, cobblestone streets lined by historical inns.  There’s also a footbath you can soak your frozen (?) feet in, as well as a public bath for day trippers.

Monkeys shouldn’t be the only ones to enjoy an onsen!

Apple Season is here!

October 27th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Experience, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

It’s fall, which means apple season here in Nagano.  Depending on where you are from, visiting an apple orchard may not be high on your list for your Japan itinerary.  However, not only do apples taste their best when eaten freshly picked right of the tree, but Japan has varieties you may have never seen before, and the attention to details that the orchardists give to their fruit will amaze you.

tart kogyoku apples
tart kogyoku apples

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Karuizawa Taliesin

August 29th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Events, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Shopping, Sightseeing
Autumn leaves on the shores of Lake Shiozawa.
Yonjyuyonenkan is a building originally constructed as a post office in 1911. It is now a restaurant and a museum.

I would like to give you the latest information of “Karuizawa Taliesin” (the previous article is here). 

Karuizawa Taliesin is a leisure park which has Lake Shiozawa, museums, play facilities, restaurants, shops and a rose garden.  It is a very popular tourist spot in Karuizawa because you can enjoy the beautiful lake and the nature.  The park shows different scenic beauty every season.  If you wish to see marvelous red and yellow leaves reflecting on the lake, the best season is approaching.

If you are interested in historical architecture, Taliesin has several important buildings which were transferred from other locations.  For example, “Meiji Yonjyuyonenkan” is a building constructed as a post office in 1911.  It is now used as “Kouko Fukazawa Nonohana Museum” and “Shunsai Pasta Restaurant Sonnet”.   “Suikyuso”, designed by an architect W. M. Vories, used to be a summer residence of Tomiko Asabuki, a prominent writer and translator of French literature.  “The Summer House” of Antonin Raymond, a masterpiece in architectural history, is used as “Musee PEYNET” today.   

If you feel like art or literature, your choices include “Musee PEYNET”, which exhibits works of a French painter Raymond Peynet, “Kouko Fukazawa Nonohana Museum”, showing paintings of wild flowers, and the “Literary Museum of Karuizawa”, exhibiting manuscripts and correspondence of writers connected with Karuizawa.

Moreover, Taliesin has a choice of great restaurants.  So you can enjoy taking a rest with great food and drinks.  You can get souvenirs, too, of course, at the shops.  And last but not least, you can just simply relax on the lakeshore.

Why not visit Karuizawa Taliesin to have a refreshing holiday?

Boats and Suikyuso.  Taliesin is the only place in Karuizawa where you can enjoy boating.
A waterway. This is the view before your eyes when you enter Taliesin from Central Gate.

Inside of the Literary Museum of Karuizawa.



Musee PEYNET. The building used to be "the Summer House" of Antonin Raymond.



"Suikyuso", designed by W. M. Vories, was a summer villa of Tomiko Asabuki.

Name of the facility Karuizawa Taliesin
Description of business Park with museums, play facilities, restaurants, shops, rose garden
Address 217, Shiozawako, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111
Operating dates and hours Open from 9:00 to 17:00 (10:00 to 16:00 in winter).
  • Park admission: JPY800 (adults), JPY400 (elementary and junior high).
  • Park and Museums combination ticket: JPY1,500 (adults), JPY800 (elementary and junior high).
  • TEL: 0267-46-6161 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0267-45-3663 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail taliesin@karuizawataliesin.com
How to contact Tel or email
URL http://www.karuizawataliesin.com
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

Climbing Mt Oobayashi

August 24th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

At 1333 meters, Mt Oobayashi (大林山) is the highest mountain overlooking Togura-Kamiyamada onsen on the west side of the Chikuma River valley. To get to the start of the climb, take route 77 south from Togura-Kamiyamada onsen. At the Mezawa Bridge intersection, turn right on route 55. After about 1 km you will see Chishiki Temple on the right. If you have time, stop and take a look around the temple, which has an 11-faced goddess that is displayed in public only once per year.

Follow the road as it winds up the mountain. Just before the tunnel, there is a car park on the left. The track starts from here and is signposted in Japanese (look for the wooden sign that says 八頭 大林 登り口). After about 200 meters the track reaches the old route 55. Turn right and follow the road for about 100m. The track then goes off to the left, up the hill. After climbing up the hill, you reach an intersection. The track on the right goes up a short steep climb to the top of Mt Hatto (八頭), although the views from here are somewhat obscured. We saw fresh bear droppings on the track here, so be careful.

Returning to the main track, turn right and follow the path to the summit. In the spring, you will see many purple and orange mountain azaleas flowering along the path. On a clear day, from the top you can see Mt Kamuriki (1252m) to the north. To the northeast is the Nagano City plain, and to the east, the Chikuma River valley at Togura-Kamiyamada.

Looking down to Togura Kamiyamada from the summit of Mt. Oobayashi

Looking down to Togura Kamiyamada from the summit of Mt. Oobayashi

Azaleas at the top of Mt Oobayashi

Azaleas at the top of Mt Oobayashi

B&B August 7th (Karuizawa)

August 17th, 2011 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Outdoor Activities, Report, Sightseeing
Beautiful outlook of “B&B August 7th” in the evening.
The original barbecue consists of delicious pork spareribs, beef, chicken and seafood in different tasty sauces. (Dinner is optional)

Are you looking for a nice B&B in Karuizawa?  Then I’d like to introduce “B&B August 7th” located in the southern part of Karuizawa.  If you look at the left photo above showing the outlook, you will see the building has a French palace atmosphere.  The B&B’s name “August 7th” was given because it is the opening date of the B&B as well as the birthday of the owner.

The B&B welcomes tourists from overseas and has accepted many including those from the USA, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  According to the owner, the inn is also loved by TV personalities, lawyers, golf competition sponsors and famous professional golf players.

You can also enjoy your stay in various ways there.  For example, you can rent barbecue equipment and enjoy barbecue with food and drinks you bring.  Or you can use the inn as a base of tennis camp.  Or you can hold a private party inviting around 10 to 40 guests.  They also welcome tourists traveling alone.  Long stayers are welcome, too.

Why not stay in B&B August 7th when you come to Karuizawa?


Breakfast. This is a photo of the hotel’s original French toast topped with season’s fruit, yogurt, blueberry sauce, and so on.
This double room called “Violet” is equipped with 16c French antique bed frame with a canopy and a chandelier.

Dining room with classic tableware.


Stylish family bathroom surrounded by the glass.


Japanese room in the old Karuizawa summer house style.

Name of the facility B&B August 7th
Description of business Accommodation (capacity: 45 guests, Japanese-style rooms, Western-style rooms), rental barbecue equipment
Tel 0267-41-4606 (Japan country code: 81)
Fax 0267-41-4555 (Japan country code: 81)
Email t.mitsuko@pnetclub.net
http://www.bbaugust7.com/ (Click “English)
Address 13-19, Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0111, Japan
How to contact Fax, email, online reservation (website) or telephone.
  • 4 minutes by taxi from Karuizawa Station.  Take Prince Dori Street, along which Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza stands.  Turn left at the second signal called Narisawa and take the first left into a narrow graveled path.  The B&B is the second on the left.
  • 24 minutes on foot from Karuizawa Station.  Take Prince Dori Street and turn left into a graveled path 3 houses before the signal called Narisawa. The B&B is on the right on the path.
Operating hours Check-in: 16:00, Check-out: 10:00
Rates and other prices JPY6,000 without meals to JPY18,500 with breakfast per person including air-conditioning
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Karuizawa Kanko Kaikan) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

* This article is written based on the information given by the facility and the writer is not liable for the information.


August 4th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

Hakuba is a great place to put a little adventure in your outdoors.  From the well known skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter, to the perhaps lesser known chances to enjoy such as white water rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, kayaking and guided hikes.

Much of this is accessable to travlers under their own power and schedules, but for things such as paragliding and canyoning, putting yourselves in the hands of one of the number of activity operators in the area is your best bet.

Canyoning, for those unfamiliar with the activity, could in some ways be said to combine “freestyle watersliding” with “wilderness ziplines” with “wild-west river fording”.  If that makes no sense, I suggest looking at the pictures for a clearer understanding!

It really is an exhilerating feeling, slipping into the purest mountain fed river, escaping the summer time heat, yet comforted from the icy water by the relative warmth of your wetsuit.  The walk down the canyon really does give you that feeling of exploring, of being the first person to cross this particular stretch of land and water, even though you know inside that it’s traversed most days through the summer by other drawn to the adventure. The hand signals of the person in front of you in line, warning of slippery or uneven surfaces, take on a level of importance that most day to day things lack, as your mind sharpens with the thrill.  And then, the jumps, the slides…  and the big big smiles!!! I’ve seen many pictures of people canyoning and that’s one thing that is constant… huge grins.

The season generally runs from May to late October, but check the below links for more details.




Shigakogen 50km Trail Run

August 4th, 2011 by
Category: Events, Experience, Information, Outdoor Activities

For information visit the PowerSports OSJ webpage

Nagano mountains are....beautiful

Nagano mountains are....beautiful

Clouds parted after torrential rain moments before – 7hours30minutes into the race… feelings of conradmanship & luck.
Just happy to be there.
This time Lake Onuma, but many other rewarding places waiting for you around Nagano, Mount Asama & Shigakogen, the Northern Alps.
This event was almost completely un-advertisied but still 400 participants:
Hope to see more of you running & walking in Nagano soon^-^
Around 20 new friends & 4 toe-nails later…it was amazing.
Better than NZ Ironman, or Obuse Marathon (which is also great fun – see here)

For more information about hikes around Shigakogen ask the Guide-KUMIAI (registered guides) at 98 Hall – Olympic Memorial & Conservation Center (see Tylers entry)

Matsushiro’s Mysterious Side

July 23rd, 2011 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities

Nagano City’s Matsushiro area is known as a samurai town with several Edo-era temples and samurai estates open for viewing.  There’s also a recently restored castle, one of Nagano’s first school houses, a cool onsen with rust-colored water (high iron content), and a WWII-era underground headquarters complex, all within an easy bike ride from Matsushiro Station.  (Free ‘rental’ bikes available there;  NOTE:  the station is on the Nagaden Yashiro Line which is scheduled to be terminated later in 2011.  Regular bus service from Nagano Station also available.)

Minakami Mountain (with Otokogi Ramen in the foreground)

Minakami Mountain (with Otokogi Ramen in the foreground)

Besides the samurai and historical sides, Matsushiro has a mysterious side as well.  On the outskirts of town is a stand-alone mountain called Minakami-yama.  It was recently featured in the anime ‘Occult Accademy’.  But even before it’s anime stardom, it had been rumored to be a type of power vortex.  With it’s pyramid-like shape and unusual geological composition, some people say it was moved here by UFO’s. 

The family and I took a drive to check it out — and look for UFO’s.  After winding up the road through a thick forest, the top flattens out to a small plateau with a handful of houses and rice fields and even a golf course.  Minakami-jinja, the cool shrine at the top, dates back to the 15th/16th centuries and the building features a fascinating carved wood decoration at the entrance. 

Ancient Minakami Shrine

Ancient Minakami Shrine

Close-up of the woodcarving detail

Close-up of the woodcarving detail

We didn’t spot any UFO’s while there, but we did catch a glimpse of some of the salamenders growing in the marshy ponds near the shrine.  These salamenders normally grow in marshes at much higher elevations, not down here at the Zenkoji Plain.  All part of the mystery of Minakami-yama.

Mysterious Marsh

Mysterious Marsh

Access:  Prefectural Route #35 from Matsushiro.  Or Hirabayashi bus stop (30 minute walk to the top from there).

Recommended Nearby Restaurants:  ‘Otokogi Ramen’ on Rt. #35 at the base, one of the many soba shops in Matsushiro central, or the charming ‘Koen no Bench’ Italian restaurant (tel 026-278-7411) 10 minutes away by car.

Charming Koen no Bench restaurant

Charming Koen no Bench restaurant

Recommended Nearby Onsens:  Matsushiro-sou (rusty water, modern facilities, tel 026-278-2596), Ichiyou-kan (rusty water, rustic facilities, mixed bathing outdoor bath, tel 026-278-2016),  or Omuro Onsen (salty water, wood beam construction, outdoor baths overlook the Zenkoji Plain, tel 026-278-5687)

Hike in Kamikochi

June 11th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

Kappa Bridge and Japan Alps Mountains in the background

Kappa Bridge and Japan Alps Mountains in the background

I hiked in Kamikochi, which is a popular hiking and sightseeing spot and also a trekking gateway to the Japan Alps, with two Japanese, one Brit and one American.
I think May and June is the best season in Kamikochi if the weather is fine (despite the rainy season) because we can see the Japan Alps mountains covered with snow, some wild flowers and the fresh green of trees and it is less crowded than summer.
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