“Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna’ Declaration” Report #3: Nozawa Onsen Village

December 30th, 2011 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Events, Information, Miscellaneous, Onsens (Hot Springs), Report, Sightseeing

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

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“Oyu” Public Bath. Nozawa Onsen Village is known for hot springs and has 14 public baths.
 
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Dynamic “Dosojin Festival” is one of the 3 great fire festivals in Japan.

 Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration

This is “Shinshu Tourist Destinations ‘Kizuna‘ (Bonds) Declaration” Report #3.  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.  In Report #2, we focused on “Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort”, which has been fully recovered from the damage of the earthquakes.  In this Report #3, we would like to convey the attractions of Nozawa Onsen Village from various perspectives.

 

The Village of Onsen (Hot Springs) — ‘Sotoyu’ for People and ‘Ogama’ for Food

Nakao-no-yu Public Bath, housed in a beautifu building, boasts large space.

Nakao-no-yu Public Bath, housed in a beautiful building, boasts large space.

Beautiful appearance of Oyu public bath. In front small Buddhist statues are placed.

Beautiful appearance of Oyu Public Bath. Small Buddhist statues are placed in front.

Kamiterayu Public Bath has hot springs not only for humans but also for boiling eggs.

Kamiterayu Public Bath has an area where you can boil your eggs in hot springs.

"Akiha-no-yu" Public Bath has an open atmosphere with large windows.

Akiha-no-yu Public Bath has an open atmosphere with large windows.

Local women are boiling Nozawana Cabbages in hot springs.

Local women are washing Nozawana Cabbages in hot springs.

Ogama hot springs are like Nozawa Onsen Village's kitchen. Water at 90 degrees celcius is spring out.

"Ogama" hot springs is called "Nozawa Onsen's Kitchen". 90 degree-water springs out.

Nozawa Onsen Village is, as its name “onsen” shows, famous for hot springs or onsen in Japanese.  There are 14 public baths called “sotoyu”, including Furusato-no-yu just opened on Dec 14th.  The public baths are common properties of the villagers, but they are opened to visitors thanks to the villagers’ hospitality.  The public baths are the places not only for bathing but also for warm communication among villagers and visitors.  It would be a great experience to stroll about the downtown with atmosphere and enter as many public baths as possible!    

Another interesting thing about hot springs in Nozawa Onsen is that villagers use the hot-spring water to wash or boil food (see the last two photos above).  There is a place called “Ogama” hot springs at the temperature of 90 degrees.  Villagers bring vegetables and eggs there and wash or boil them in the hot-spring water.  Therefore, Ogama is called “Nozawa Onsen’s Kitchen”.  Ogama is not opened to those other than villagers because it’s hot and dangerous.  But you can still try boiling your egg in hot springs.  In “Ashiyu Park Yurari” located near Ogama, you can boil your egg in “egg baths” while you enjoy soaking your feet in the foot bath next.  Some public baths also have special hot springs for eggs.

Tradition — Dosojin Festival, Akebi Handiworks, Nozawana Cabbage Pickles

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Dosojin Festival. On the evening of Jan 15, fire is set to a shrine built for the festival and other dedicated things.

 

A bag and a hatoguruma (a dove on wheels) woven with Akebi vines.

A basket and a hatoguruma (a dove on wheels) woven with Akebi vines.

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Recipes for Nozawana Cabbage Pickles vary depending on each home.

Nozawa Onsen’s attractions are not limited to hot springs and skiing.  On January 15th every year, the village celebrates its famous Dosojin Festival, which is one of Japan’s three great fire festivals.  Dosojin are a pair of male and female gods whose statues are enshrined along roads.  They protect us from bad luck and bring us a chance of marriage and having a baby. The festival is really dynamic.  A special shrine is built by local men for the festival and fire is set to the shrine and other dedicated things on the evening of January 15th.  The next festival is coming soon, so why not come and look yourself?

As for traditional handicrafts of Nozawa Onsen, Akebi vine works are famous.  If you come to the village, you will soon find a “hatoguruma” (a dove on wheels) woven by hand with Akebi vines.  Hatoguruma is a toy for children, but it will be perfect as a souvenir to display on your shelf.  Akebi vines are also used to make practical products such as baskets.  Akebi vines are very strong, so you can use products for a long time.  The above photo of a basket and a hatoguruma made with Akebi vines (second from the last) was taken thanks to the cooperation of an Akebi vine craft shop and studio “Sankyu Kogei”.  Their website is http://www14.plala.or.jp/sankyu39/

Finally, I would like to introduce Nozawana Cabbage Pickles (see the last photo above).  The pickles are enormously popular not only in Nozawa Onsen Village but also all over Nagano Prefecture, but the home of Nozawana Cabbages is Nozawa Onsen Village.  They are simple but tasty and go well with boiled rice.  Nagano people enjoy Nozawana Cabbage Pickles at teatime, too.  You can find the pickles at almost every souvenir shop and grocer’s. 

Nozawa Onsen Village is welcoming domestic and international guests.  Please come and stay in Nozawa Onsen Village this winter and enjoy snow, hot springs and Japanese culture.  Your visit will definately help Nagano and Japan’s recovery!  Thank you for reading.

Name of the facility NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association
Description of business Tourism association
Address 9780-4 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-2502
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0269-85-3155 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0269-85-3883 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail info@nozawakanko.jp
URL
Access Refer to http://nozawakanko.jp/english/ (Click “Access”)
Operating dates Open every day from 8:30 to 18:00
Prices
How to contact Fax or e-mail
General information of Nozawa Onsen Village Contact NOZAWA ONSEN Tourism Association as above.

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.