Things to do

Day trips

Day trips and tours from Nozawa Onsen

Other than the snow and Onsens there are many other fantastic things to do in and around Nozawa Onsen.

With much improved access to transport, Nozawa onsen has become an ideal base for exploring the Northern Nagano area and beyond.

Easy access to the Hokuriku shinkansen, the Joshinetsu expressway, taxi and car hire services, the surrounding countryside and regional centres have never been more accessible.

Below is a list of day trips to make your stay in Nozawa a little more interesting:

Nagano city and Zenkoji temple

An easy day trip, for shopping and sightseeing.

Nagano city is only 11minutes from iiyama station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The Nagano main station area is surrounded by good shopping and many restaurants and the Zenkoji temple precinct is a perfect area for sightseeing.
The Zenkoji temple itself is an important historical site and houses what is said to be the first likeness of Buddha to be brought to Japan when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century.
Make sure you drop into the Nagano tourist information centre in the main station hall for maps and advice.

Matsumoto Castle and old district shopping street

Matsumoto city is the second largest city in Nagano prefecture and is an important historical site.
It hosts one of the oldest fully intact and preserved castles in Japan and is a must see while here. You can walk or ride from Matsumoto station to the castle, and on the way you will pass by Nakamachi street, known for its traditional storehouses, called kura, which are characterized by their black-and-white, criss-cross patterned walls.

Matsumoto is around 1hr 40minutes by train from iiyama station, and is an easy day trip. (1 change).

Kanazawa city

Castle gardens, tea house district and fish market.

Another important regional city bursting with historical sites is Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan. 1 hour and 15minutes from iiyama station on the Shinkansen, Kanazawa is a particularly rewarding day trip.
There are many great sites to see including the old Higashi Chaya geisha district, the Kanazawa castle gardens, Kenrokuen garden, and the fish markets. You can get around on foot but hiring a bike or utilizing the loop bus makes getting around a little easier. Definitely make the trip!

Photo courtesy : Kanazawa city

Obuse town

The town itself is a maze of small winding streets, open gardens, sake breweries, restaurants specialising in chestnut dishes, and Ganshoin temple which is home to Hokusai’s last great work – the ceiling painting of the “Phoenix looking in all directions.”

Obuse is most easily accessed from Nozawa Onsen by car. (about 45minutes). 
Hire car services are available from Nissan car hire next to iiyama station.

Mayumi Takahashi museum of doll art, Iiyama

A small but fascinating museum located in Iiyama city, a short bus ride from Nozawa. The museum of doll art hosts a collection of handmade dolls depicting scenes of Japanese country life.

Hokuryu Lake

A beautiful heart shaped lake with camping facilities, boat hire, fishing and picnic areas, walking trails, museum, day-use onsen, and restaurant. 10minutes from Nozawa by car or taxi. Outdoor activities are available Spring, Summer, Autumn. 

Hiking trail to Kosuge shrine and Kosuge village

Kosuge is a tiny village 10 minutes from Nozawa onsen with a famous homemade soba restaurant featuring mountain vegetable tempura, and a stunning hiking trail up to Kosuge shrine.
The hike has challenging sections and takes about an hour. Be sure to take good hiking shoes and water. Spring, Summer, Autumn only.

Mountain onsens

The areas surrounding Nozawa are home to many interesting hot springs. Some of the easiest to access are listed below.
Ask your accommodation or the Nozawa tourist information centre for more details.

Maguse onsen

30minutes by car from Nozawa onsen and located halfway up a ridge looking back toward kijima daira ski resort. This facility also has an in-house restaurant and local made soft serve ice cream.

Yutaki onsen

10minutes by car or taxi from Nozawa, located along the banks of the chikuma river. This onsen offers a large outside bath area and a popular restaurant.

Iiyama Hokuryu Onsen

Located in the hotel next to Hokuryu lake, it offers a day use onsen and rest area with great views over the Hokushin 5 peaks, and also over Hokuryu lake itself.
10 minutes from Nozawa by car.