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[Feature] Zao in Late Winter! Activities to enjoy from March


*This article was published in March 2019.

I am Naomi Sato, a writer living in Yamagata City.

I think that everyone in Yamagata in this season is still in the midst of snow plowing, but this year, it has been a warm winter like no other year.

Somehow I feel that it was somewhat lacking, but winter is still underway on the other side of town up in the mountains!

So, I would like to introduce you to the highlights of Zao Onsen that can be enjoyed from March!

◆ Zao Onsen


Zao Onsen is a famous hot spring resort in Yamagata.

It is known as a hot spring resort with a history of about 1900 years since the discovery of its water source.

In recent years, the snow monsters tours in winter are quite popular, attracting many tourists from home and abroad.

It is also very popular among women because it is known as a hot spring for beautiful skin due to the acidity of its water.


There are three public baths in walking distance so make sure to stroll around the hot spring village.

The entry fee for each is nice 200 yen, but there are other things that you can enjoy at Zao Onsen, like the kodeshi doll painting experience, so please make sure to check beforehand.

The famous large open-air bath of Zao, which is closed during the winter season, will be specially opened free of charge between March 22 and 24.

This is a chance to experience the open-air bath in winter, something that often can only be seen on posters and brochures.

◆ Zao in winter


Furthermore, the nearby Zao Onsen Ski Resort is a place where everyone can be satisfied with everything from beginners’ courses for families to advanced courses like the Yokokura no Kabe for expert skiers.

Please read the map carefully and enjoy the course that suits you.


Break in a nice café


I recommend you take a break after moving your body at the Otochaya café at the entrance of the Zao Onsen village.

You can also have lunch with a menu that includes rice dishes like curry and doria, as well as coffee, cheese cake and other items.


In addition, it becomes a bar after 18:00.
It’s a good place to spend a relaxing time with friends with a great variety of craft beers in hand while fashionable music flows.


Pets are allowed at this at-home inn.


This time I stayed at the “Hotel Oak Hill”.

It is located on a small hill that overlooks the hot spring area and the magnificent Zao mountains. It is great as it is just 5 minutes away on foot to the slopes.

There is also a drying room for skiers in the hotel, so there will be many guests staying overnight.

◆ It is relaxing at the hot spring sinking hot spring


This is the bath area.

The milky white hot water is so ideal for skin that you would not think it to be so acidic.

Your stiff cold tired body will immediately feel warmer in this comfortable space.

There are two indoors and two open-air baths for women, with “hot” and “lukewarm” temperature settings.


My favorite is the cypress wood bathtub.

This is just the right season to enjoy the view of the silent winter forest.

In addition, you can enjoy the fresh breeze and fresh greenery in the fresh green season, and the beautiful autumn leaves in the fall, so you can feel the charm of each season. Open-air bath It has become.

◆ Feasting on seasonal dishes of Yamagata.


The dinner we were waiting for is here!


Is today’s meal full of delicacies? It started with an appetizer of jellyfish in vinegar, and it was a very luxurious experience with famous Yamagata imoni taro stew, a hot pot and other dishes.


And this is the Yamagata beef steak!

The plump meat was steam-cooked to condense its umami taste.

These dishes can only be made because the chef knows about Yamagata’s season.

◆ Pets are accepted.

The greatest feature of Hotel Oak Hill is that pets can stay with guests in the rooms.

If you keep pets, you often give up planning a long trip, but if you bring a cage for your pet you can have it stay with you in the rooms at Hotel Oak Hill.

※ Please confirm the details at the time of booking.

◆ Yamagata Sake Museum


The Yamagata Sake Museum is a new popular hot spot during the evenings in Zao.

Here you can sample and purchase all the fine sake of the prefecture, a perfect facility for adults.

There is also a museum, and there are also display panels that help you learn the process of making sake.

There is no doubt that you can enjoy food of the Japanese and Western-style stalls that will perfectly match your drinks.


◆ Romantic hot spring at night


In the current season when the cold has subsided, a night stroll is also recommended.

Lights from the shops are bright and steam from the hot spring make this really romantic.

Please enjoy the traditional atmosphere of this village at night. It is just as if you went back in time.


Unfortunately, the best time for the snow monsters has passed, but Zao Onsen is a place to enjoy all year round.
As there are direct buses from Yamagata Station making access very convenient.
Make sure to go to Zao in winter.

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