Getting To Nozawa Onsen

Getting To Nozawa Onsen

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Getting To Nozawa Onsen

There are various options for getting to Nozawa Onsen Japan. The travel information and booking options below include Nozawa Onsen bus transfers to/from the airports to Nozawa and trains to Nozawa Onsen. Other Nozawa transport information includes drivinggetting around Nozawa, ski resorts nearby, and flight tips.

Where is Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort?

Nozawa Onsen is located in the northernmost part of the Nagano Prefecture, on the island of Honshu (the main island of Japan). Nozawa is 46km northeast of the city of Nagano, 12km northeast of the town of Iiyama (which has a bullet train station) and 28km north of the onsen town of Yudanaka (near the snow monkeys).


The Tokyo Narita Airport is the main gateway airport for Nozawa Onsen, or some people fly into Haneda Airport, although transfer options are not as readily available at Haneda compared to Narita. You can search for flight options here.

Unless you want to overnight in a Narita hotel, a Haneda Airport hotel, or a hotel near Tokyo train station, you’ll need to consider your flight times because not all Nozawa lodgings will allow you to check in at 2am. Arrivals into Narita should ideally be before 7pm, whilst for return flights you’ll preferably want an afternoon flight out of Tokyo or if you catch the shuttle bus to the airport, you’ll need a late afternoon or evening flight out.

Getting to Nozawa Onsen

Other than driving, there are broadly three options for getting to Nozawa Onsen from the Tokyo Narita Airport (or Haneda Airport): a bus to Nozawa Onsen; Chuo Taxi; or train travel which is the fastest.

Nozawa Onsen Bus
An economical and easy option is to catch a Nozawa Onsen bus from Haneda Airport or Tokyo Narita Airport which can be booked with
Nagano Snow Shuttle. It takes about 5-6 hours and provides the convenience of not having to drag your luggage between trains and buses. One disadvantage is that the number of schedules is quite limited, so you may be waiting at the airport for a long time (but if the schedule isn't ideal Nagano Snow Shuttle also offers train/bus combos). It’s ideal for flights that arrive into Narita late in the day because one of the scheduled buses departs in the evening. For the late afternoon and evening shuttles, you have the option to get dropped off at your accommodation in Nozawa Onsen (be mindful that not all accommodation will permit a 1am or 2am check-in), otherwise the buses arrive at the Chuo Bus Terminal. From there, your accommodation may provide a pick-up service.

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Chuo Taxi
Chuo Taxi provide door-to-door shared taxis from the airports to Nozawa, or private charters. Particularly if you have a group, the pricing is reasonable and it's a very stress free way to travel to Nozawa.

Trains then Bus to Nozawa Onsen

This option for getting to Nozawa Onsen consists of catching a train to Tokyo (or Ueno) and then Shinkansen (bullet train) to Iiyama (12km from Nozawa). Depending on connections it takes about 4 hours to get from Narita to travel to Nozawa Onsen via train and bus. Another advantage of taking the trains is that it’s a great cultural experience.

Part 1: Trains from Narita Airport to Iiyama
Catching the train is a common mode of transport to Nagano and then onto Iiyama. From Narita Airport (the Tokyo international airport), catch the Narita Express (NEX) train to Tokyo Station (1 hour). There are frequent departures from the airport railway terminal.

Upon arrival at Tokyo Station follow the signs to the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Iiyama. Check Navitime for schedules, although unless you’re travelling early or late in the day, there are frequent departures so you can probably just go with the flow. The bullet train from Tokyo to Iiyama takes about 100 minutes. 

The other option is to catch the Keiser Skyliner from Narita Airport to Ueno, and then the bullet train from Ueno to Iiyama. This is generally a little faster, but check Navitime for the best route for your travel time.

For travel to Nozawa from Haneda Airport, catch the inexpensive monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho. The monorail takes about 15 minutes, although the walk to get to the monorail may take 8-10 minutes depending on how good you are at hauling your luggage. From Hamamatsucho, there are very regular and inexpensive local trains to Tokyo.

For train travel to Iiyama from Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto or other parts of Japan, see Navitime for routes, schedules and fares.

See our Japan rail travel page for information on using the trains in Japan. Unless you're just going to Nozawa for a few days, it's not worth purchasing the JR Rail Pass.

Part 2: Bus (or taxi) from Iiyama to Nozawa Onsen
From the Iiyama train station, you can catch the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus that takes 20 minutes to travel to Nozawa Onsen. The schedules for the Nozawa bus match up with train arrivals at Iiyama, except for the train that arrives after 10pm where you’ll need to catch a taxi to the resort.

Reservation is not required for the Nozawa bus and you can buy a ticket at the machine at Iiyama train station. The fare is inexpensive. There are a few bus stops in the south village of Nozawa, or most people get dropped off at the Nozawaonsen stop (Chuo/central terminal).

Driving to Nozawa Onsen

If you want the flexibility to visit nearby ski resorts or do some easy sightseeing such as the snow monkeys and Shibu Onsen, having a car is ideal (you could rent a car in Nagano or Iiyama if you don’t want to drive all the way from Tokyo). Most rentals cars have great English GPS and all you do is enter the telephone number of your destination. Parking in the village is rather tight in places and not all accommodation offers parking, but there are various public car parks.

Driving times to Nozawa Onsen from:
  • Nagano City – 1 hour
  • Yudanaka – 40 minutes
  • Tokyo - 4.5 to 5 hours (depending on traffic)
  • Narita Airport – 5-6 hours
  • Nagoya - 5 hours
  • Osaka or Kyoto – about 6-7 hours 
  • See below for drive times to nearby ski resorts

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Getting Around Nozawa Onsen

The Nozawa Onsen village sits below the ski resort, and considering there are three main base areas (Hikage, Nagasaka, and Karasawa), most lodgings are within walking distance of a lift. Access to and from the Hikage gondola is facilitated by Yû-road, a 300 metre undercover uphill travellator. Sometimes getting up and down to Yû-road can be a little treacherous in ski boots (but it makes for an interesting spectator sport!). If you’re renting skis and boots, you may want to store them overnight at one of the Hikage gondola shops.

There is free snowmobile trailer transport between the 2 gondolas, which is ideal for kids (and their parents) to get between the Nagasaka gondola and ski school or day care at the Hikage gondola. This makes the accommodation near the Nagasaka gondola rather attractive for families who need these services.

There is a town shuttle bus that travels up to the Nagasaka gondola, which is often used by those staying in the south village and other lower reaches of town.

The town is rather hilly and even though the narrow roads are heated with onsen water, it can be slippery so wear sturdy footwear. Take care (even if you haven’t been drinking!) because there are many ditches and drains off the side of the walkways, some with six foot plus drops. And if you’re driving around town, be really careful of these big dikes!

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

There are various other Nagano ski resorts, so Nozawa Onsen can easily be combined with other ski areas on your Japan ski holiday. To get to Hakuba, Myoko Kogen, Madarao or Shiga Kogen you can get a shuttle bus from Nozawa Onsen with Nagano Snow Shuttle. These inter-resort shuttles are ideal for those moving accommodation, rather than day tripping.

Another option is to get a taxi or private shuttle with a Chuo Taxi minivan which is expensive unless you have a group.

Nearby Madarao Kogen can be plenty of fun on a powder day, and the ski area is connected to Tangram Ski Resort. The No Ta Ma Bus is short for Nozawa, Togari, Madarao, although the bus doesn’t go to Togari anymore. The bus provides transport between the two ski resorts for very reasonable rates, but the schedule is unlikely to suit those wanting first lifts.

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Road distances from Nozawa Onsen: