5 REASONS TO CHOOSE TOGARI ONSEN
1. Snow, and plenty of it!
Togari Onsen gets the same massive snowstorms as Nozawa Onsen and Madaro, boasts fantastic views, and has high-speed lifts. It is not as big as Nozawa or Madarao, but it has plenty of terrain for all skill levels: powder hounds, technical riders, leisure riders, and especially families. It is also a much quieter resort than its neighbors. This means shorter lift lines (or no line at all!), wide open slopes for big turns, and plenty of powder lines.
2. Great access to outdoor activities
The Togari Trail starts just a few metres from the door of Hunters Gate and offers easy access to the 80km of trails that make up the Shin-etsu Trail. The trail is well marked and maintained and makes for easy, fun hiking. Spring (from mid-June to the end of July) and autumn (from mid-September to the end of October) are especially good times to visit the trail. In spring, the last traces of snow can be seen among new greenery and flowers bursting into bloom. In the fall, hikers can enjoy the brilliant colors of autumn leaves.
Do you fancy cycling through the Japanese countryside against a beautiful backdrop of rice paddies and mountains? For gentle touring, the basin of the Iiyama valley is wide and flat, and offers great cycling and scenic views along Japan’s longest river, the Chikuma River. For the hardcore cyclist there are many great hillclimbs and the roads are mostly free from traffic. Rental cycles are available from the Activity Centre at Iiyama station. There’s plenty of information available in English too!
For watersports enthusiasts, the Chikuma River offers opportunities for canoeing and rafting, while at the nearby heart-shaped Hokuryuko Lake you can try kayaking or SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard). Our next-door neighbour, Toshihisa Kanoe offers tours and can offer door-to-door service from our lodge.
3. It's a real Japanese village
Togari Onsen’s tranquil atmosphere is largely because it was not originally a resort. Local people have lived here for over 1,000 years. It is a village first, and a resort second. This means the local culture is genuine and intact. Niseko, Hakuba, and even Nozawa Onsen, have become heavily developed by international investors.While such investments can make it easier for western guests to stay, they often come at the cost of the local culture. We are the only western operators in Togari Onsen, we have lived in Nagano year-round for over 14 years and are deeply a part of the local community and culture; we speak Japanese; we have the support of our neighbors; and we are committed to preserving the local culture and sharing it with guests who want to stay and experience an authentic JAPANESE resort.
4. Support local businesses
There are plenty of facilities in Togari Onsen to make your stay a great one. Numerous restaurants, bars and shops dot the bases of the resort (1.5 kilometers), as well as two fantastic natural onsen hot springs complete with outside baths. The locally-owned businesses operate year-round so you can enjoy original dishes with local ingredients whenever you come. This is the authentic taste of the Japanese countryside! For guests looking for a lively nightlife, Togari will probably be a little too quiet; however, unlike other resorts, it is always easy to get a table in the evening. The local supermarkets are ok for the basics, but you’ll probably want to go into Iiyama town centre for a wider selection.
Please bear in mind that Hunters Gate is mid-mountain. So depending on the weather, walking down and up the road may be inadvisable. You can get taxis back until about eleven at night. There are also buses from the ski resort into central Iiyama or to Togari-Nozawa Onsen station, but they are not so frequent. This is another reason why we highly recommend getting a rental car.
5. Get back to nature
All year round Togari hums with life! It's always a thrill to see a big white snow bunny or even a kamoshika deer bound through the buna trees on the side of the ski run. Kids love to see the fireflies in June and practice catching little freshwater sawagani crabs. If you are really lucky you may even find stag beetles squaring up for a duel on a tree trunk or an owl in the trees at dusk! Please remember though, to leave only footprints and take only pictures. From our upstairs windows we can often observe grey-faced buzzards and other birds of prey hunting for mice in the paddy fields. You can sometimes hear woodpeckers too.
Togari is the perfect retreat from the heat of Japanese city life, and our favorite local pastime is to enjoy a barbeque in the cool of the evening, listening to the frogs in the fields and watching fireflies. In the early morning it is a treat to enjoy open-air yoga, to refresh the body and mind.
Bicycle rental and outdoor activities