Our kids had a day off from school the other day.
The weather was postcard-perfect.
Lots of work to do, but….
When in Nagano during the winter, you just gotta go skiing.
So the kids and piled in the car, and went up to Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort. Our son Andy wanted to try the 39-degree “Wall”, and I was looking forward to a soak in Nozawa’s onsen after skiing.
While Andy tackled the Wall and the rest of Nozawa’s courses, I taught #2 son Kenny and our daughter Misaki how to ski at the Kids Park at the bottom. Andy was excited to have seen the ocean from the peak, and had a blast exploring all the various runs. Meanwhile, especially Misaki got hooked on skiing and wants to try it again.
After skiing at Nozawa, it’s against the rules not to take a soak in an onsen bath.
There are 13 “Soto-Yu” public bathhouses in Nozawa where locals and visitors alike are welcome to go and take baths for free (donations accepted). Locals take turns cleaning and maintaining the facilities, and the bathhouses act as gathering spots to chit-chat and catch up on things.
One of those bathhouses is Oyu. The stately elegant wood construction with the raised center roof to let the steam out is the classic “Yu-ya” (bathhouse) style. This is onsen culture at its finest.
It had been years since I’d bathed at Oyu. So on this ski trip to Nozawa Onsen, the kids and I took the time (and followed the rule) to take a bath there.
Warning: Nozawa’s hot springs are scalding hot! Oyu is divided into mens and womens sides, and further divided into “Atsu-yu” (hot water) and “Nuru-yu” (moderate water). But even the nuru-yu was painfully hot (around 43 deg C), so we and the other guests added tapwater, and I used the wooden plank to stir up the bath, bringing the temperature down to a more enjoyable 40 degress C.
The onsen water has a rich sulfur content. The strong smell makes bathing here a fantastic multi-sensation experience.
Nozawa Onsen — amazing skiing and amazing hot springs. Check it out!