Nagano, known as the Mecca of winter sports, is actually an area that boasts one of the largest numbers of onsen (hot spring) districts in all of Japan. You can go to any of these onsen to soothe your tired body by soaking in their highly beneficial hot spring waters, or simply enjoy gazing at beautiful nature from the luxury of a bathtub. Below are five recommended lodging spots each in a different onsen district in Nagano!
1. Myojinkan (Tobira Onsen)
Tobira Onsen in Matsumoto City is a tranquil hot spring village with an altitude of 1,100m that is set along a gorge. Myojinkan is an old lodging spot that was established in this area in 1931. Inside this hotel are hot baths with different themes and atmospheres, so it will make you feel like you are visiting multiple onsen. The baths they offer include tachiyu (standing bath), where you can soak standing in a bath that is waist high, a large public bath with open-air bath, and the neyu (lie-down bath), where you can lay down while bathing. These baths adopt an expansive design that is integrated with nature, so you are sure to enjoy a pleasant soak. There are also guest rooms that are fitted with their own onsen baths.
Another pride of this hotel is their cuisine that generously incorporates highland vegetables that were organically grown on their own farm. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. There are staff who can speak English.
2. Aburaya Tousen (Yudanaka Onsen)
Yudanaka Onsen in the northeastern part of Nagano is an onsen area that has been set up for more than 1,350 years now. Aburaya Tousen is an inn that is found in this hot spring district that is known for its abundant amount of onsen water. Here, you can fully enjoy a variety of baths, including luxurious open-air baths that are exclusive to guest rooms, a large public bath with a magnificent view that is overlooking the mountains of Shinshu, and open-air bath that can be rented out. After you soak in the bath, you can enjoy Japanese-style course dinner that lavishly incorporates seasonal ingredients such as traditional Shinshu vegetables. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. There are staff who can speak English.
3. Hotel Higashidate (Shigakogen Hoppo Onsen)
Located halfway up the mountain in Shiga Kogen (Shiga Highlands) at the northeastern part of Nagano, Hoppo Onsen is an onsen valley with abundant hot spring waters that is surrounded by lush nature. This hotel is situated at a spot that treats guests to a superb view of the Northern Alps from an elevation of 1,600m that has a bird’s-eye view of the gorge. Inside the hotel, there are various kinds of hot baths, including an open-air bath with a great view, an ultrasonic bath made from Shinshu natural stones, and a low-temperature sauna. There are also guest rooms that are fitted with their own open-air baths. This hotel is the perfect base for enjoying winter sports as it is situated in a prime location right beside the slopes. Wi-Fi is free in the guest rooms. There are staff who can speak English and Italian.
4. Nakajimaya Ryokan (Nozawa Onsen)
Nozawa Onsen, which is found on a plateau with an altitude of 600m in the northeastern part of Nagano, is a famous hot spring that is loved for its benefits to skin. At Nakajimaya Ryokan, guests get to soak in a bath that is constantly filled only with undiluted water from the hot spring. There are baths for the exclusive use of men and women inside this inn, but the public bath right in front of the inn is also recommended. For dinner, guests are treated to creative Japanese cuisine that incorporate local ingredients. As for the guest rooms, there are standard Japanese-style rooms, as well as Japanese-Western rooms that have tatami flooring and beds. Wi-Fi is free in the guest rooms.
5. Happokan (Hakuba Happo Onsen)
Hakuba Happo Onsen is a onsen area located at the foot of a mountain. With water that contains the highest level of strong alkaline in Japan at above pH11 and water quality that is known for being the only natural hydrogen hot spring in the country, this hot spring is known as Bihada no Yu that makes skin smooth and lustrous. Inside Happokan, there are large baths for the exclusive use of men and women where you can enjoy soaking in the water from Hakuba Happo Onsen. This inn is famous for its beautiful view of the grand Northern Alps and the delicious soba (buckwheat noodles) handmade by the owner.
Nagano can be easily reached from other regions. For instance, it is just an hour and 20 minutes away from Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train). It is a region that is filled with delicious dishes too!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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