Yamasanso, Nozawa, Nagano, Japan

Yamasanso (山三荘) in Nozawa Onsen (野沢温泉), Nagano Prefecture (長野県) is really a ryokan than a hotel, but you get the gist. We originally wanted to stay at another cheaper ski resort nearby that everyone else was at (Resort Inn Chitose), but they were fully booked out, so Yamasanso it was!

We got there too early in the morning and no rooms were available for us to do an early check-in, so we dropped our stuff at the other lodge and went skiing. There was quite a walk to the ski fields from Yamasanso. Now, I’ve seen some snow before, but it was my first time skiing and I have no experience walking on soft snow and slippery ice in ski boots. That walk to and from the ski fields, especially the first trip back in ski boots and carrying all the gear, was very exhausting.

Unfortunately, there were also only stairs at the resort and I had to carry quite a lot of luggage having already spent a whole week travelling to Hong Kong and a few more days around Tokyo. A lot of luggage up to our third floor room. I swear if I ever went skiing again, I would travel light. Very light.

Yamasanso: Our Ensuite Double Room

The knackered brother in our ensuite double room at Yamasanso

Our room was clean and tidy and came with a small ensuite toilet, which I didn’t appreciate as much until I visited the other lodge and walked into their small, stinky, unisex guest toilet. Otherwise, our room was Japanese-style with tatami floor and futons. We also had to use the public bath, which we didn’t mind too much at first because it’s all in the experience. The small stuffy baths didn’t open until 3 pm (I think) and closed at around 10 pm, so we really had to watch what we do and make sure we head back in time to get a much needed bath each night while avoiding the crowds as much as possible.

Daily breakfast and dinners were included and served in the dining room, laid out by the staff at each meal on tables allocated to each room. Breakfast was around 7:30 am and dinner at 6 pm. The food was a bit salty, but the dinners were especially cherished after a long tiring day of skiing.

We had a total of 4 meals there: dinner on the first night, breakfast and dinner on the next day, and finally breakfast on the last morning. We’d been trading pictures of our meals with the others at the other ryokan. Apparently our food was much better than theirs.

Altogether, it cost us 46,000 yen (almost A$500) per person at Yamasanso, over A$110 more than the other lodge. Was it worth it for the ensuite toilet and the better food? In my opinion, yes; it’s just better to have a non-stinky private toilet to use each morning. Would have been worth all of it if there were also ensuite shower facilities, and perhaps also being just a little bit closer to the ski fields — but now I just sound greedy.

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