An onsen area recognized even by Michelin
At Nozawa Onsen in northern Nagano Prefecture, there are more than 30 source springs and the onsen has been deeply involved in the lives of the local residents since ancient times. Within the central source spring area, there is the symbol for Nozawa Onsen, Ogama, which has been recognized nationally as a Natural Monument. Ogama, whose waters approach 90 degrees Celsius in temperature, gushes out 500 liters of water a minute and you can observe the locals boiling foods such as vegetables there. Nozawa is the only onsen region in Nagano Prefecture to have earned 2 stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japon and has even won recognition overseas.
Many ways to enjoy yourself through open-air baths and the spa
One famous feature at Nozawa Onsen is the tour of the open-air baths. The open-air baths refer to the 13 public baths in the onsen town. All of them use water which flows straight from the source springs and the largest bath is in a building which has that air of an old-fashioned bathhouse garnering popularity as a photo spot. Besides the open-air baths, there are 2 bathing facilities for day trips. Furusato-no-Yu which is equipped with outdoor baths with hot water and warm water and Nozawa Onsen Sparina where you can enter wearing bathing suits are ideal for those people who don’t quite like very hot open-air baths. Also, there is the mini-onsen facility, Yurari, and the foot bath Akuto along with many other kinds of onsen to enjoy.
The Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Fire Festival, one of the three major fire festivals in the nation
The Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Fire Festival which is held annually on January 15th has been happening since the Heian Era to burn New Year’s decorations in a ritual called “dondo-yaki”. The main shrine building made from Japanese beech is a large square structure which measures 10m in height and 8m in width. There is a pitched battle as one side tries to set the building aflame while the other tries to protect it with the result being the building enveloped in flame at the climactic moment. This grand spectacle is considered to be one of the three major fire festivals in Japan and has been recognized nationally as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.