After two weeks of travel, we came to what was (for the kids) the most exciting part of the trip – snow time! All the trips to temples and traipsing around big, crowded cities was worth it, because – SNOW! And it was falling!
Nozawa Onsen is a lovely little hot spring town in the mountains of Nagano prefecture on the main island of Honshu. It’s popular with Australians, and families in particular, as it’s only two hours from Tokyo on the Shinkansen, so while it doesn’t have the best snow in Japan, it’s still amazing, a great place to learn to ski, is accessible without being too crowded, and the locals are warmly welcoming.
We headed to Nozawa because my sister and brother-in-law had been last year, and they loved it. As for us, it was a perfect spot for our first time skiing in Japan, and the kids’ first time skiing ever. (Thanks Kaz and Al!)
We travelled to Iiyama (the closest station to Nozawa) via Kanazawa from Kyoto on the Thunderbird and Shinkansen and arrived in the snow.
After a 20 minute bus ride from Iiyama up the mountain, we carried our bags (couldn’t roll them as the snow was thick on the road) to our guesthouse, and headed out for a walk. The kids were beyond excited to play in it even though it was late afternoon, below zero and getting dark.
They were intent on making snow angels. (Watch the vid for that.)
Next day, first time on skis and a lesson.
Loved it, of course!
The kids and I skied for four days (Steve did a day but his back was happier off the slopes). P and B had another full day’s lesson and by the end of that they were getting down the runs faster than me. (It was my first time skiing since I was a kid, so I did ok. I’ll keep my day job.) It rained in the middle of the week – the snow in town melted, the snow melted off the trees and some of the runs got a little bit patchy, but it was good enough for us!
A gallery of ski pics.
The mountains are beautiful!
Here they are at the top of the mountain!
Blake’s stacks were the best.
On the gondola…
Here’s a vid filmed by Phoebs on the GoPro.
And one by Blake.
More from Nozawa Onsen village can be found here, and coming up our trip to see the snow monkeys!