13 Asian destinations were selected in New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2014” including two Japanese destinations – Ishigaki Island (Okinawa) and Nozawa Onsen (Nagano). Ishigaki Island, located on the southern tip of Japan, is famous as one of the world’s top diving spots, while Nozawa Onsen is a ski and hot spring resort best enjoyed now in the middle of winter.
While Hokkaido is famous for its powder snow, the snow of Shinshu (Nagano and some surrounding areas) is not to be outdone. The Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, which boasts 100% natural snow, is made up of 36 slopes up to 10Km long and a 1Km vertical drop; it can be enjoyed by both beginner and advanced skiers alike.
The hot springs await after you have fully enjoyed the world of snow. I recommend Muslims try the Kashikiri Buro private baths if there are no faith-related issues. The baths are filled with 100% natural hot spring water in the Kakenagashi style. This means hot water from hot springs prescribed in the Hot Spring Act is always flowing into the baths. The important point to note is that natural hot water is used.
Nozawa Onsen is conveniently located not far from Tokyo. The Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station takes 1 hour and 45 minutes, and the direct bus from Nagano Station to Nozawa Onsen takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. Each Nozawa Onsen hotel offers a free shuttle service to the slopes. If you like, this is one of the “Places to go” you can do as a day trip!
The hot springs generally provided by hotels and inns are large public baths shared by a large number of people. Private baths, which have increased in number in recent years, refer to open-air baths and cypress baths which can be used privately on a time system. Muslims, whose faith prohibits them from exposing their skin to others, should check if private baths are available with the hotel or inn beforehand.