How to Have Fun in Nagano in the Winter: Snowy Outdoor Baths; Yomase Onsen ‘Tomi no Yu’

February 3rd, 2011 by
Category: Onsens (Hot Springs)

On a snowy, cold winter day, people in other places in Japan may stay inside and bury themselves beneath the quilts of their kotatsu.  Here in Nagano, we embrace the snowy scenery instead and head for the hills to soak in one of the many ‘notenburo’ — onsen baths with scenic views.

Last weekend, I took our kids to Yomase Onsen’s famous ‘Tomi no Yu’ for the first time.  Located above Shibu Yudanaka Onsens at the entrance of the Kita-Shiga ski area, Tomi no Yu’s bath features an amazing view of the Zenkoji Plain with Nagano City down below, along with glimpses of the 5 Northern Nagano Peaks as well as the Northern Alps in the distance.

Bath with a view, minus the view

Bath with a view, minus the view

The day we went, it was snowing so unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy much of a view.  But the kids loved hopping out of the bath, jumping in the snow surrounding the rim, then hopping back into the onsen.  I, on the other hand, simply let the piping hot onsen waters warm my body to the core as snow flakes gently fell on my face. 

The experience inspired a little haiku:

Soaking in the bath
Face looking up to heaven
Snow flakes gently fall

Tomi no Yu doesn’t have an indoor bath, and the washing area is rather spartan, but the outdoor bath with its spectacular view makes up for it.  If you want to enjoy one of Nagano’s premier onsen baths with a view, then make sure to check out Tomi no Yu.

Entrance to Tomi no Yu

Entrance to Tomi no Yu

Located approx. 30 minutes by car from Nagano City (Nakano IC on the Joshin’etsu Expwy).  Also accessible by bus from Nakano Station on the Nagano Dentetsu Line, or in the winter by busses from Nagano Station going up to the ski resort in Kita-Shiga.  Website is here.

7 Responses to “How to Have Fun in Nagano in the Winter: Snowy Outdoor Baths; Yomase Onsen ‘Tomi no Yu’

  1. Wow Tyler it looks amazing!! I want to go!
    How did you book Tomi-no-yu? I tried emailing them through their website but it didn’t work. I want to book the open air onsen and request a pick up service and I can’t speak Japanese so I don’t think there’s any point calling. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Lisa-san, Tomi-no-yu’s outdoor bath has one of the best views of any onsen in Nagano. I hear the view at sunset is especially nice.
    We went for day-use (‘hi-gaeri’) by car. But you’re right — getting there can be difficult.
    I assume you are looking to spend the night in the area, and I assume you are hoping to go see the snow monkeys. If that’s the case, I have a suggestion. If you stay in Yudanaka Onsen (located basically in between Tomi no Yu and the Jigokudani snow monkey park), there is a ryokan that (if you ask nicely) gladly provides free shuttle service to both the monkey park trailhead and to Tomi no Yu. It is called Shimaya ( That may be the most convenient for you.

  3. Thankyou Tyler for your response. Unfortunately I’ve already booked one night at Maruka Ryokan and I’ve read that the owners can’t speak a word of English so it’ll be very hard to communicate LOL.
    I’ll be ariving on the 27th December and the plan is to visit the snow monkey and explore Yudanaka, then spend the next day skiing in Shiga Kogen. I don’t think I should contact Shimaya since I’m not staying there.
    Would you possibly know Tomi-no-yu’s email address?

  4. Lisa-san, Not sure where Maruka Ryokan is, but to answer your question, the e-mail / contact form for Hotel Seran (operators of Tomi no Yu) is here:
    In my experience, hotels sometimes provide shuttle service to guests who spend the night, but usually not to day-trippers.
    If you are going skiing in Shiga Kogen after seeing the snow monkeys, you may want to consider the ski slopes in Kita-Shiga (one of the 3 main Shiga Kogen ski areas). Tomi no Yu is at the base of Kita-Shiga, so perhaps you could enjoy your soak there after hitting the slopes.
    Finally, a closer look at the website for Nagano Dentetsu (the area’s main train and bus company) does show some access to Tomi no Yu. Both the express bus from Nagano City to Kita-Shiga and the local bus originating at Nakano City stop at “Yomase Ski-jo”, the actual ski run adjacent to Tomi no Yu. From the Shibu/Yudanaka/Jigokudani (snow monkey) area, you would have to take a local bus or train back down to Nakano Station, then the local bus bound for Kita-Shiga.

    Whew. No wonder Shimaya’s guests appreciate their kind shuttle service to Yomase.

  5. I’ve tried their contact page/email however it doesn’t seem to work. Argghhh.. I really want to book the open air onsen! LOL I should’ve done my research and booked with Shimaya instead. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to give them a call and hope for the best!
    Thankyou so much Tyler for your help and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Sayonara~! =)

  6. Hi Tyler,
    This ensen sounds wonderful! Do you know if it is males and females separated or a mixed ensen?

  7. Hi Pauline,

    I’m not Tyler but I have been to this onsen many times—it’s fantastic! The baths are gender-separated, but there is a private bath that can be reserved for 2,500 yen. Contact the Hotel Selan (adjacent to the onsen) for availability.


Leave a Reply



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.