8 Adventures Riding the Nozawa Onsen Summer Gondola

Typically when one thinks of the Nozawa Onsen gondola, early morning first lifts, untouched groomers, and dreamy powder days come to mind. But don’t forget about the summer gondola in Green Season.

The Nagasaka Gondola runs through the summer offering cooler temperatures on top of the mountain and an array of amazing activities for everyone. Take a ride above the clouds and peer over Nozawa Onsen with 360 degree views. 

We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Nagasaka Gondola during the summer months — including operating dates, prices, and eight amazing things you can do after you step out of the gondola.

General Information of the Nozawa Onsen Summer Gondola 

Built in 2020, the Nagasaka Gondola is the latest and greatest innovation to grace the slopes of Nozawa Onsen. The state-of-the-art Nagasaka Gondola gets you from the base of the mountain to the top of Mt. Kenashi — an elevation gain of nearly 800 meters — in only 10 minutes.

The brand new gondola accommodates 10 passengers per lift and offers beautiful 360 degree views through glass windows. There are even a few lifts that feature glass floors for you to peer at the valley below as you make your way up. Outside of busy periods, you can step aside and wait for a red, blue, or green lift if you’d prefer glass-bottom views.

Lift Pass Prices

Lucky for you, the Nagasaka Gondola reduces its prices for the Green Season. You can purchase lift tickets at the entrance of the gondola at the lift ticket booth.

The current prices for the 2022 Green Season are as follows:

  • One-Way Pass
    • Adults: ¥1,500
    • Children (Under 15): ¥1,000
  • Round Trip Pass
    • Adults: ¥2,500
    • Children: ¥1,500
  • Night Pass (Select dates listed below)
    • Adults: ¥3,000
    • Children: ¥2,000

Additionally, local Nozawa Onsen residents are able to ride the gondola throughout the summer free of charge.

Days and Hours of Operation

The Nagasaka Gondola opens to the public once the last bit of snow melts away on the mountain. The 2022 Green Season operation dates run from the first of July until the last day of October.

You can access the gondola seven days a week from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. There are also select dates listed below when the gondola is open until 9:30 P.M. for evening stargazing.

With all of this in mind, let us show you all of the amazing activities the Nagasaka Gondola gives you access to during the Green Season.

8 Summer Activities Accessed by the Nozawa Onsen Gondola

There are plenty of reasons why you should take a trip up the Nagasaka Gondola during your visit to Nozawa. Everything from relaxing picnics to scenic hikes to adventurous mountain bike rides — the options are seemingly endless.

Here are just a few of our favorite activities:

Have Lunch at the Uenotaira Picnic Garden

The Uenotaira Picnic Garden is perhaps the biggest draw for those looking to escape the mid-summer heat. The garden area is home to flower beds, rock gardens, and green grassy fields for you to enjoy.

A variety of foliage and flowers bloom at different times of the year, making it an ideal destination for both summer and autumn months.

The surrounding area near the gondola also features a variety of outdoor seating including lounge areas with wooden decks, couches, umbrellas, and hammocks.

Bring your own food and snacks up the gondola and enjoy a picnic in the cool temperatures on top of the mountain. You can also purchase food and refreshments from the Seavus Cafe if you arrive empty-handed.

Additionally, there are seasonal markets that pop up a few times over the summer to keep you busy.

Unwind at Sutaka Lake and the Sutakako Campground

A short hike from the gondola awaits the picturesque Sutaka Lake. Here you can find a surplus of activities to enjoy in and around the lake.

Among them are fishing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), and row boat rentals. You’re also able to reserve a nature experience guide to show you around and give you the inside scoop on all of the birds, animals, and flowers of the surrounding area.

For those who wish to stay for the night, the Sutakako Campground is situated right next to Sutaka Lake. The campground offers tent sites, car camping sites, and several rental bungalows that fit up to eight people.

Facilities include toilets, showers, and outdoor camping kitchens. There is also rental camping gear and supplies if you need. Additionally, there are barbeques and pizza kilns for you to cook your lunch or dinner. You can bring your own supplies or purchase food directly from the campground.

Take a Hike in Nature

Hiking on top of the mountain is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Head out during spring, summer, or autumn — each has its own alluring draw for nature lovers.

In spring, you get a firsthand look as vegetation buds and comes out of its winter hibernation. Summer offers cooler temperatures at the top of the mountain and lives up to the “Green Season” name. Lastly, autumn brings out the brightest oranges and golds as the mountain slowly slips into winter.

There are six different hiking courses of varying lengths you can access from the Nagasaka Gondola. All of these hikes are relatively easy with the longest being nearly four kilometers and an altitude change of 250 meters. Hiking tours with local guides can also be arranged.

Tear Up the Trails on a Mountain Bike

 

Shortly after the snow melts away, the Nozawa Ski Resort transforms into a mountain biker’s paradise. There are several mountain bike trails that snake down the mountain bringing you right back to the gondola for another lap.

Serious mountain bikers and beginners alike can choose from a variety of trails depending on skill level. You’ll traverse through the best nature Nozawa Onsen has to offer with stunning views as you test your riding skills.

The current prices for the 2022 mountain biking season are as follows:

  • One-Time Pass
    • Adults: ¥2,000
    • Children (Under 15): ¥1,200
  • Daily Pass
    • Adults: ¥5,000
    • Children: ¥3,000
  • Season Pass
    • Adults: ¥45,000
    • Children: ¥27,000

 

Mountain bike and riding gear rentals can be arranged through Mt. Dock which is located at the entrance of the Nagasaka Gondola. The experienced staff will set you up with top-of-the-line equipment. They can also give you a few tips and point you in the right direction to find the best trails suited to your ability.

Lay Under the Stars Far Above Nozawa

There are certain days throughout the summer when you can take the gondola up at night and enjoy unobstructed views of the stars above Nagano.

Stargazing on top of Mt. Kenashi is a perfect way to cap off a romantic evening or put a bow on your family trip in Nozawa. Depending on the day, you can expect to find vendors and even a harpist setting the night-time mood with soothing tunes.

The gondola is open for night excursions on the following days for the 2022 summer season:

  • July: 30
  • August: 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 20, 27
  • September: 3, 10, 17, 18, 23, 24

Bring Your Dog for a Walk

There’s no need to leave your best friend at home. Bring your dog along for the ride and go for a walk on top of the mountain.

Together you can explore any of the hiking trails and Uenotaira Garden. Just be sure to clean up after your furry friend and keep them on a lead at all times.

Expect to pay an additional ¥500 to bring your pet on the gondola.

Join Craft and Basket Weaving Classes

Kids and adults alike can partake in craft and basket weaving classes at the Yamabiko Station right next to the Gondola. Both are fun activities for the whole family and make for memorable souvenirs from Nozawa Onsen.

Craft classes consist of using natural materials from around the mountain to construct picture frames and other creative crafts.

Basket weaving classes are led by local weavers who help you make your own basket using wisteria vines.

Courses at the Yamabiko Station for the 2022 summer season cost the following:

  • Craft Classes: ¥1,000
  • Basket Weaving: ¥2,000

All courses start at 10 A.M. and are one-hour long. Reservations are required and can be made beforehand by calling 0269-85-3166.

Look Over Nozawa Onsen From the Kokenashi Observatory

The Kokenashi Observatory is located on Mt. Kokenashi — 1,450 meters above sea level. Step foot off the Nagasaka Gondola and take a short 15-minute hike of 450 meters.

From far above Nozawa Onsen, you have views of the Chikuma River and the Hokushin Gokaku — the neighboring five peaks of the Japanese Alps. Keep your eye on the weather and bring your camera to capture magnificent views of Nozawa below.

Top Off your Trip to Nozawa Onsen With a Summer Gondola Ride

Now that you know that the Nagasaka Gondola isn’t just for the winter, what will you plan to do when visiting Nozawa Onsen? Go for a long hike among nature, test your skills on the mountain bike course, or relax and have a picnic — the choice is yours.

Book your Nozawa Onsen accommodation, pick up your lift tickets, and head to the top of the mountain. Cooler temperatures and an afternoon of adventure await.

 

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