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By josh on June 21, 2023

Zao Onsen a relaxed onsen town

While everyone is talking about Nozawa Onsen this year, availability and price are making it either unavailable or unafforable , its time to consider the other famous Onsen Ski Town. Zao Onsen. 


While both resorts offer amazing skiing and picturesque villages, there are some key differences between the two that might sway your decision one way or the other.


In this post, we'll take a look at why Zao Onsen might be the perfect choice for your next winter vacation.


Zao Onsen's ski resort is famous for its unique "Snow Monsters” – trees completely covered in snow and ice – which make for stunning scenery as you fly down the mountain. The resort has over 40 kilometers of pistes spread over several different areas catering to all levels of skiers from beginner to advanced.


Zao Onsen village has retained much of its traditional Japanese character with hot springs scattered throughout the village and small specialty shops selling local goods like pickled vegetables and charcoal-filtered sake. There’s also a good mixture of western-style food options including burger bars, takeaway pizza parlours & coffee shops serving sweet treats.


Given Zao's relatively small size compared to other ski resort villages in Japan, it may surprise some visitors how many dining options are available here! There's no shortage of restaurants offering traditional Japanese dishes such as ramen noodles or sushi; however there is an increasing number offering western cuisine too.


One thing both Nozawa and Zao share in common is free onsens which can work wonders at helping sore muscles recover after hitting world-class powder on the mountainside! At Zao, many ryokans (traditional Japanese inn) offer their own public bathhouses alongside high end hotels such as Hotel Lucent Takamiya who boast hot spring facilities with panoramic views across Yamagata Prefecture.


So if you're considering where to head on your next ski adventure in Japan, be sure to keep Zao Onsen in mind. With unique scenery, delicious dining options and free onsens, not to mention a relatively compact village perfect for exploring on foot - it's the perfect winter getaway destination.