Enjoying the winter landscape of Nagano with secluded hot springs

Nagano/Obuse Area

Nagano is the land of hot springs with all eleven representative types of waters. Because of its precipitous and complex topography with ranges of mountains standing two to three thousand meters tall, there are many secluded hot springs that have not yet become tourist sites. Taking a bath in a remote location while slowly enjoying a snowy landscape is one of the highlights of travelling in Japan.

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Day 1 - Shibu-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village

Tokyo Station -- <Nagano Shinkansen 80 mins.> -- Nagano -- <Nagano Electric Railway Limited Express 45 mins.> -- Yudanaka -- 30 mins. by bus -- Kanbayashi-onsen Hot Spring -- <30 mins. by walk> -- Jigokudani -- [Jigokudani Yaen-koen] -- <30 mins. by bus> -- Yudanaka -- [Shibu-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village]

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Jigokudani Yaen-koen

Jigokudani Yaen-Koen, which is located in the valley of Yokoyu River, has a severe environment that is buried in snow almost one third of the year. The area was named “Jigokudani” (Hell Valley) because the very steep cliffs and dense steam of the hot spring waters make it reminiscent of hell. There is a hot spring bath for monkeys to bathe in, which is rare throughout the world, and visitors can see up close this interesting ecological scene. They are also popularly known as “snow monkeys” overseas.


Shibu-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village

Shibu-onsen Hot Springs is a location that is so filled with hot springs that they bubble up from below the ground anywhere you dig. The water at every inn and external bath is all from the source. Depending on the bath, the water might be of a different color for you to enjoy such as brown, white, green, or transparent because they all come from different sources. Anyone can enjoy single-day bathing in the shared “Ooyu” bath, which is a favorite among the locals.


Footbaths are not only for keeping warm, but also for enjoying conversation with others as well.


The hot spring inn said to have been the model for the bathhouse of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, “Spirited Away”. This magnificent structure is an old established inn with a history of over two hundred years.



Day 2 - Yamada-onsen Hot Spring

Yudanaka -- <Nagano Electric Railway 60 mins.> -- Nagano -- <Nagano Line, Nagano Electric Railway> -- Suzaka -- <30 mins. by bus> -- [Yamada-onsen Hot Spring] -- <30 mins. by walk> -- [Kaminari Falls] -- <30 mins. by walk> -- Yamada-onsen -- <Shuttle bus> -- [Yamaboku Wild Snow Park] -- <Shuttle bus> -- Yamada-onsen -- <30 mins. by bus> -- Suzaka -- Nagano

Yamada-onsen Hot Spring

The Takayama Hot Spring Village in northern Nagano Prefecture is home to seven hot springs – Shichimi-onsen Hot Spring, Goshiki-onsen Hot Spring, Matsukawa Keikoku-onsen Hot Spring, Koyasu-onsen Hot Spring, Okuyamada-onsen Hot Spring, Yamada-onsen Hot Spring, and Warabi-onsen Hot Spring. Of these seven, Yamada-onsen Hot Spring is the central hot spring resort. The shared “Ooyu” bath is a popular spot for rest and relaxation among the villagers and tourists.

Kaminari Falls

This huge waterfall with a thirty-meter drop can be viewed from behind. It has been named “Kaminari (thunder) Falls” because the loud splashing of the water sounds like thunder. Visitors can walk down to the basin during seasons when it does not snow.

Yamaboku Wild Snow Park

A ski slope with a relaxed atmosphere that makes full use of its natural landscape. The snow is fluffy because it is located at such a high altitude. It is a full-fledged ski resort with courses for advanced skiers, but there is also kids’ park where children can play in the snow. Ski gear is also available for rental.