Famous for its historic and traditional ski resort, Nozawa-onsen village is well renowned among onsen (hot-spring) areas dotted around Japan.
An “onsen area” is a district with many natural hot-springs where hot water flows naturally from the earth.
The place where the hot water flows out is called the gensen. Nozawa-onsen-mura is a small village located at the foot of Kenashi-yama, a mountain that has a gensen at its center.
There are various stories explaining how the gensen was discovered. Some say that it was discovered by a group of ascetics called Yamabushi who were training themselves by roaming single-mindedly deep in the mountains, while others claim it was found by a hunter who followed an injured bear that happened to lead him there. There are many other legends too, so people must have known about the hot springs around Nozawa since quite a long time ago.
Time passed since then, and present-day Nozawa-onsen is a popular hot-spring health resort thanks to efforts in environmental improvement and other areas.
In the village’s Onsen district there are thirteen atmospheric public bathhouses called Soto-yu, and visitors can sample several of them on a relaxing onsen pilgrimage.