Nozawa onsen ski trip

Saturday January 20, 2018

Difficulty 3 Number of Days 2 Nagano


This is the second announcement of the TWMC Nozawa Onsen ski trip. Nozawa Onsen has received over 3 m of snow so far this season. That said, it was warm yesterday and may warm up again around the middle of next week. Substantial snow is predicted this week and next.
Registered participants:
Rick & Nobuko
Yumi & Ovidiu
Eunsam & Thierry

If your situation has changed and you cannot attend, please inform me as soon as possible..
At least one other person is interested; we are checking, but I don't think we can fit more in the lodge.

If you do not object, I plan to buy ski/travel insurance for everyone in the group (693 yen/person). I've never been seriously injured skiing, but skiing and boarding are inherently risky sports.

If you use Line, then please Line me at elss_rick; I will make a group message list to facilitate communication during the trip.

I have some old ski wear and gear that I could sell, lend, or give away. If interested, then please contact me off-list with a list of things you need.

First announcement:
TWMC is going to Nozawa Onsen! Unlike most ski resorts in Japan, Nozawa Onsen is rich in culture and nightlife.
From Powderhounds: “The village is famous for the abundance of hot springs that were discovered in the 8th century. Steam rises up everywhere amongst the bustling narrow cobblestone streets and the traditional ryokan inns and shops. The culture of Nozawa Onsen skiing is also historic. Skiing was introduced to Nozawa Onsen Japan in 1912 by an Austrian, and Nozawa is considered by some to be the birthplace of skiing in Japan.”
There are 13 free public onsen (soto-yu) spread around the village. There is a craft beer brewpub and other pubs that feature craft beer.

We plan to ski and snowboard 2 days within the resort, but snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also available nearby. About 40% of the slopes at Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort are for beginners.

If you have not skied or boarded before or if you need a refresher, then we recommend that you book lessons from qualified professional instructor. Nozawa Onsen is famous for deep powder off piste.

This will be a car based trip with a very early Saturday morning departure time. The two organizers Rick Weisburd and Kyoko Nomura have volunteered to drive and we have space for 8 (total) with gear in 4-wheel drive cars with studless tires. We have booked 8 places at Lodge Yukiyama for the night of 20 January:

The lodge is just a short walk from the Nagasaka Gondola at the base of the ski resort.

If you want to participate, please sign up with Rick Weisburd by email. First come, first served; the trip is likely to fill up fast. Adding space for more participants would require finding both another driver with a car equipped with studless tires (preferred) or chains and additional lodging space. Nozawa Onsen is one of the most popular ski resorts on Honshu, so many accommodations are already full for that weekend.

Nozawa Onsen is more than 280 km from Tsukuba and the roads on ski season weekends can be VERY crowded. The group will depart from Tsukuba Station by 4:30 am on Saturday 20 January (meeting time 4:15). Sunday afternoon after we finish skiing and boarding, we can soak in an onsen. We’ll stop to eat at a highway service area along the drive back to Tsukuba and should be back in Tsukuba by 9 or 10 pm Sunday.

Estimated costs will be about 24,000 yen/person excluding lunches and breakfast on Saturday:

Transport: about 6000 yen/person for gas and tolls, excluding drivers
Lodge with Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast: about 9000/person assuming 2 rooms each shared by 4 people. Western breakfast adds 300 yen.
2-day lift ticket: 9000 yen

Those who do not bring or send their own gear will need to rent.
Trip costs could change slightly.

Recommended list of gear:
Skis or board with associated gear
Ski or boarding wear (waterproof jacket and pants)
Warm base layers
Warm gloves or mittens
Goggles (Nozawa Onsen has poor visibility during frequent snowfall)
Boots or shoes for walking around town (waterproof recommended)
Lunch for Saturday

Skiing and snowboarding are inherently risky sports. TWMC and the organizers do not bear any responsibility for your safety. We highly recommend that you obtain skiing and snowboarding insurance in advance, arrange lessons if needed, and ski or board safely.

To sign up, email Rick with your name, email address, keitai number, whether you will bring or rent skis or board, western or Japanese breakfast and dietary restrictions (if any).




Eight members participated in this trip. Two cars drove from Tsukuba and one participant from Obuse, Nagano. For the convenience of drivers and participants, the two Tsukuba cars departed separately, one at 4:30 and the other at 6:15. The first car from Tsukuba and that from Nagano reached Nozawa Onsen about 8:30 and we skied from the morning. The second car hit traffic but arrived late morning; those participants bought afternoon-only ski passes for that day.

The weather on Saturday was good. Not much snow had fallen in the preceding days; so, the roads were clear, but the slopes were a bit icy. We skied and boarded not only on the pistes, but also in the woods between them. The group gathered for lunch at the cafeteria upstairs from Yamabiko Station. On the way down at the end of the afternoon, the Skyline course was crowded.

        After checking in at Lodge Yukiyama, several of us stopped at the Craft Room for some craft beers. Dinner was very good. Afterwards, we visited Libushi, an artisanal brewery in the town. From there, we visited the closest of the free onsen, O-yu. The water was a scalding 46°C. The men all got in, but only Thierry was able to stay in for more than a short dip. Even the bathers not from our group cheered him on.

        Several of the men headed up the mountain by foot before breakfast for a hike and sunrise photo. The weather on Sunday was alright in the morning, but snow began to fall in the afternoon. By the end of the ski day, the snow was falling heavily. The lodge was kind enough to let us leave our cars long enough to enjoy onsen at Akiha no-yu before we hit the road at around 4 pm for the drive home. At almost exactly the same time, the two Tsukuba cars reached Yokokawa Service Area, where we enjoyed dinner. Many of us selected the delicious Kawameshi. The road was not too crowded and all arrived home safely in good time. Overall, we enjoyed some excellent company, skiing, boarding, and apres experience in the delightful old town. Thanks to everyone for a great trip, and especially to Kyoko for co-organizing and driving.