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Nozawa Onsen Resort Guide

If you are chasing a powder and culture-filled working holiday, Nozawa Onsen near Nagano in Japan should definitely be on your bucket list.

Cold air from Siberia combines with moisture off the Sea of Japan, and slams it into the mountains surrounding Nozawa Onsen. The resort gets 10m of snow per season. It’s is a relatively short season compared to North America and Europe. That translates into lots of powder days in December, January and February.

As well as the crazy powder dumps everyone expects, Nozawa offers a really interesting cultural experience. It isn’t a village built around a ski resort, it is a traditional village that happens to also have an epic ski resort that is actually owned by the village itself. The main gondola is new, and it’s an easy  five minute from town to the base station.
The backcountry riding is incredible with loads of drop in points, tree runs, and the locally infamous Back Bowl.
Nozawa is a very compact and traditional village which seasonal crew seem to love. If your mates aren’t drinking in the first place you head to after work, they will likely be at the next bar 20m  down the road. There’s no shortage of fabulous restaurants serving traditional food either.
Dotted throughout the village there are 13 free public Onsens (hot spring baths) that are simply magic, a bunch of shrines and mountain fed drinking water springs that all have different meanings and associations.
Video by Mountain Watch.

In terms of employee housing, many businesses have free or subsidised housing for their staff. Others don’t offer it, so it’s a mixed bag. Being such a compact village, there’s never a long walk from your home to the slopes or work.

On January the 15th every year the ‘Fire Festival’ is the highlight of the year. All of the 23 year old and 42 year old men in the village work together to drag a tree down the mountain, and then they build a structure in the village. They then beat each other up with flaming sticks until someone calls time and then they set the massive structure on fire and it burns all night. Sounds wild. Probably because it is. Hint. Don’t wear your puffer jacket to this event, especially if it’s soaked in sake!!

If this resort profile has got you a little bit excited, tag “Nozawa” in your “desired work locations” section so suitable employers can find you on the database quickly.

Text by SEE YOU NEXT SEASON and Ana Vlastaras from Stay Nozawa

Image courtesy Shaun Mittwollen Nozawa Onsen

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