Summer in Nozawa is easily as spectacular as winter with its lush vegetation and multi-coloured floral growth. Farming springs to life and the tastiest fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the village. Nozawa also has an substantial assortment of activities suited to everyone from family vacations to tailored cycle tours for bicycle clubs or training schedules for die-hard triathlon clubs. After enjoying your chosen activity, retreat back to the luxury of Kenashi Lodge which in Summer is situated among fields of community-run vegetable fields, and at night is shrouded absolute silence from any type of noise. Hire a bike from Compass House as your chosen transport around the Village which is only 3-5 mins away by bike. The nature of Nozawa Onsen area in Summer is honestly breathtaking, and you’ll be left amazed at the sheer beauty which follows every winter season, but which only a few lucky people have discovered.
Here’s just a few of the activities and sight-seeing available.
Hiking or running the mountains in Nozawa is breath-taking. Trails have all been pre-made by the village and a map is available so that you can choose your level of run or hike. You’ll constantly come across waterfalls, streams with wooden bridges, deep forests, open fields and substantial views. It really is unique. There is even the occasional wildlife to be seen. You can hike straight out of the door of Kenashi Lodge as trails are all inter-linked. In July the Nozawa Onsen Trail Run is an annual competition ran over the Nozawa trails and right past the door of Kenashi Lodge!
Nozawa Onsen Village’s hot spring baths include 13 traditional style public baths (sotoyu) which have been maintained by the local community since the Edo Period and are freely open to the public. All are within walking or biking distance of Kenashi Lodge.
The onsens are as popular in the Village in Summer as they are in Winter. They are generally open all year round and are frequented by families in the Village for hundreds of years. Sit at a local restaurant and watch local families walking by in their Summer yukatas on their way to the baths. Available also to visitors of Kenashi Lodge is access to a private onsen in the new apartment style ryokan – Shiro-Nozawa. Experience the onsen in privacy with your family.
Ogama Cooking Onsen
Ogama is the oldest and arguably the most beautiful parts of Nozawa Onsen village. A certified national natural monument, Ogama is one of the very unique sights around Nozawa Onsen. Ogama (Japanese translation: “hemp pot”) is nowadays known as Nozawa Onsen’s kitchen, as village residents use this hot water daily to wash nozawana and cook vegetables and eggs. While visitors aren’t allowed to enter this area, you can watch local people washing and cooking vegetables from outside the rail. It’s worth a look because this scenery is unique to Nozawa Onsen, where onsen intertwine with people’s daily lives. You can try onsen-boiled eggs and bamboo leaf dumplings cooked in Ogama, available at nearby stores. You’ll be surprised to see how the onsen eggs are different from regular eggs. The five hot-water pools have different temperatures, and villagers use them according to their needs. The Ogama cooking onsen is located immediately beneath the base of the moving walkway to Hikage (Yu Road).
For those that like to keep their bathers on in the onsen, or simply prefer to relax with the whole family while bathing, Sparina features a family friendly outdoor heated pool as well as outdoor onsen large outdoor bath where everyone wears a bathing suit. From the 100% free-flowing onsen mineral water of the elevated outdoor baths, you can enjoy a view of Nagano’s majestic northern mountains ranges. Sparina also has massage chairs that can be enjoyed by the family after your soak, as well as a number of restaurants.
In front of O-Yu Onsen in the center of Nozawa Village there’s an old traditional footbath. The Ashi-Yu/footbath is believed to provide relief for poor blood circulation, swollen legs and painful migraine headaches. It’s very easy to use for everyone. An ashiyu is a footbath where people can easily enjoy hot spring water by simply rolling up the bottoms of their trousers and just soaking their feet. In the Ashiyu, you can enjoy the hot spring water while sitting, and chatting to your friends. For ashiyu, the most effective water temperature is 42 to 43 degrees Celsius, slightly hotter than an ordinary bath, so very realxing. Soak your feet and legs up to about ten cm below your knees. The Ashi-Yu is a 10min walk or 5min cycle from Kenashi Lodge.
Nozawa Onsen is a fantastic place for mountain biking in the summer. There are routes on the mountain for all levels of cyclists to choose, from beginner to expert. A [course map] for those only doing the downhill courses, so there is never any problem with choosing the right level course for you! There is even a small grassy course for children as young as two to practice on.
The Nagasaka Gondola is open from mid-July to the end of August every year (09.00am to 16.00pm every day) and provides quick transport to the top of the mountain for cyclists and their bikes, and thereby access to all the downhill routes. Top quality rental mountain bikes are also available at the foot of the Gondola at Compass House, so there is no logistical difficulties. The friendly staff there will set you up in all the gear you need. You can find out more about Compass House here.
Simply roll up, hire a bike and gear, load the gondola (super simple), and return it at the end of the day. Alternatively hire for the week and cycle downhill back to Kenashi Lodge after a hard day of cycling.
Its official! Nagano Prefecture has been voted one of the best places in Japan to cycle. There are so many cycle options when using Nozawa Onsen as a base. Be it a long weekend from Hong Kong, or a week long tour from Australia.
Nozawa and Kenashi Lodge will cater. Cycle tours can be tailored to meet group or individual needs with local guides, support vehicles and route mapping. You can use Kenashi Lodge as your base for daily tours of differing length and difficulty, or plan out a multi-day tour around the prefecture. The cycling ranges from easy to moderate to challenging, and can be designed to meet the needs of the differing ability of the whole group. Compass House is the local bike sale and rental shop and their friendly staff will provide all the assistance you need before, during and after the tours. The roads around Nozawa and the prefecture are extremely quiet, ensuring a quiet ride, allowing you to take in the scenery!
Its also a great opportunity to cycle to neighbouring ski resorts like Madarao, Myoko Kogen, or Shiga Kogen, or small Japanese towns and villages that surround Nozawa. There is even an option that will take you to the Japan Sea and coastline. Picture a hard day’s cycle touring, followed by an onsen and a craft beer with some fresh local authentic Japanese cuisine. Its no surprise that Nozawa Onsen’s Summers are just starting to be discovered.
This is a really beautiful temple in Nozawa. It’s a good few steps to get there, but anyone who has ventured the journey, comes back with a sense of amazement. The buildings have the spectacularly carved wooden eaves. You’ll sense immediately something extremely special ahead as you walk through mind-blowingly enormous trees and forrest flanking the arched gate to the temple. The Temple is located right next to the base station of the Moving Walkway (Yu Road) to the Hikage Gondola. Take your time walking through this enchanting shrine and absorb the sheer serenity of the location.
This mysterious lake is filled with spring water and melted snow water. The lake is heart shaped, it’s also known as a popular destination for couples. It’s located in northeastern Iiyama, this mysterious lake is surrounded by mountainous terrain. A favorite location for photographers because of its spectacular scenery and vegetation. The periphery of the lake is an easy walk, and the lake can also be crossed by boat. On the far shore, statues honor the 7 Deities of Good Luck. During the August fireworks festival, fireworks are launched from boats on the water, and explosions echo in the surrounding mountain ranges. On the shores of the lake, the Bunka Hokuryukan facilities include hot springs baths, a collection of artifacts from late Edo Period nobility, and the Keyaki Cafe. The lake is only a short taxi, car or bus ride from Kenashi Lodge. Alternatively its a moderate 16km cycle with a variety of ups and downs, for the more adventurous.
Kosuge no sato
Known as one of the top three spots in Japan for practitioners of the Buddhist way of ‘Shugendo’, the path to the Kosuge Okusha shrine is lined with towering ancient Japanese ceders, said to be 300 years old, and large moss covered boulders. The village of Kosuge has many temples and shrines and the trail to the Kosuge shrine is easy to find at the edge of the village. The path has poor footing in some areas, so proper footwear and hiking experience is recommended and the hike, although magnificent, can be anywhere from 40mins to 1 hour. Kosuge Village is only a short bus ride then walk from Iiyama Station, or you can take a taxi.
Japan Ski Museum
The Japanese Ski Museum opened in 1972 and is located at the bottom of the Isemiya ski slope in Nozawa, and has ski artefacts from all over the world, not just Japan. The museum is rich in the history of skiing from its birth through to modern day. There is a “Japanese history of skiing” corner as well as a special exhibition room where temporary exhibitions will be held. Approximately 9000 people visit the Ski Museum per year! Access to the Museum is extremely easy through use of the people mover (yu Raod) to Hikage.
Kayaking, Rafting and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Rafting or Stand-Up paddle boarding can be arranged for the adventurous. The Chikuma river or one of the magnificent lakes nearby are available to raft or paddle. A guide can also be arranged by advance notice is needed. The Lakes are also known for the fishing!
Schneider Square is located next to the Nozawaonsen tourist information center. At the local cafe you can enjoy freshly baked bread and coffee at gallery cafe in Schneider square. In Schneider Square an old storehouse has been renovated, and on the first floor of Tokiwaya a brewery has been set up where you can enjoy craft beer from Libushi’s Craft Beer Bar.