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Snow Dreaming

It’s never the wrong time of year to be thinking of Japan’s amazing snow.  And Nozawa Onsen’s heritage – as the birthplace of Japanese skiing over 100 years’ ago, as one of the 1998 Winter Olympic sites, and as the home of more Olympian athletes than any community in Japan – puts it at the top of our list for winter sports.

Skiing, boarding, cross-country, snow-shoeing – they’re all here.  The village is at 600m, the peak is at 1,650m, with 21 lifts and 36 marked runs (the longest is a quad-frying 10km).  The snow base usually peaks at around 4m, and the resort possesses no snow machines (they don’t need them!).  Terrain is roughly evenly split between beginner, intermediate, and expert, with good back-country skiing if you’re experienced.   You can rent pro-level equipment from a number of rental shops.  

The snow starts sometime from the end of November to mid-December, and all runs are usually open till late March.  The upper slopes stay open till May (for t-shirt and bikini skiing, and great snowshoe days!).   Christmas to New Year the resort is full – especially if you have a larger group, book by May at the latest.  Around the fire festival on January 15th the village fills up, and around Chinese New Year (date varies year by year) is also busy.  Generally for January, book by August.  February and March generally have better availability, especially mid-week.

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