Shibu Onsen3.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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Wagner Custome Skis

Shibu Onsen Japan
Shibu Onsen Japan
An onsen village
An onsen village
On the way to a public onsen bath
On the way to a public onsen bath
The narrow streets are lined with ryokan
The narrow streets are lined with ryokan
One of the public onsen baths
One of the public onsen baths
The picturesque Shibu Onsen
The picturesque Shibu Onsen
A snow monkey has popped down to town
A snow monkey has popped down to town
The snow monkey onsen is not far away
The snow monkey onsen is not far away
Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen
There are many Shibu Onsen ryokan
There are many Shibu Onsen ryokan
One of the temples in Shibu Onsen
One of the temples in Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen Nagano
Shibu Onsen Nagano
An onsen village
An onsen village
Snow in Shibu Onsen
Snow in Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen has a few souvenir shops
Shibu Onsen has a few souvenir shops
The snow monkeys help with directions
The snow monkeys help with directions
On the way to the onsen on a snowy night
On the way to the onsen on a snowy night
Shibu Onsen ryokan
Shibu Onsen ryokan
A public bath
A public bath
A foot bath in Shibu Onsen
A foot bath in Shibu Onsen

Shibu Onsen

Shibu Onsen Japan is a cute historic onsen village that features traditional ryokan (Japanese inns) that line a narrow cobblestone street and laneways. The iconic Shibu Onsen sight is people clomping up and down the street dressed in yukata and wooden geta thongs on the way between their ryokan and one of the public hot baths.

Shibu Onsen village is rather pretty and the traditional Japanese architecture looks particularly striking when it’s covered in a little snow. Nozawa Onsen is a rather cute town, but it pales in comparison to Shibu Onsen with its narrow street and high concentration of lovely ryokan, small public onsen, ramen bars, and a handful of quaint shops selling geta (a sandal that’s a cross between a clog and flip-flop) and zori (Japanese thongs made of rice straw).

Staying in Shibu Onsen is great if you want to partake in many of the quintessential and traditional Japanese cultural activities such as sleeping on a futon on tatami flooring, taking a foot bath or onsen, savouring an exquisite kaiseki meal at your ryokan, or visiting one of the little temples. Or Shibu is in very close proximity to the Japanese monkey onsen, and it’s not uncommon to see the snow monkeys in the village, fossicking around for some additional food.

Where is Shibu Onsen?

The Shibu Onsen village is adjacent to the town of Yudanaka in Yamanouchi in Nagano Prefecture. Shibu Onsen is 2km southeast of Yudanaka train station, and only 1.6km from Kanbayashi Onsen which is the location of the car park to access the Jigokudani snow monkey park.

Shibu Onsen also makes a great base to explore the many ski resorts nearby, particularly if you have a car. Shiga Kogen is the closest ski resort, only about 12km away. Other nearby ski resorts include Ryuoo, Kijimadaira, Nozawa Onsen, Togari Onsen, Madarao, Tangram and Myoko Kogen.

Getting to Shibu Onsen

If you don’t have a car, it’s easy enough to get to Shibu Onsen via public transport. After catching a bullet train to Nagano (see routes, timetables and fares on Hyperdia), you can catch a local train to Yudanaka on the Dentetsu line (45 mins). Buy a train ticket at the Nagano ticket office, because this “snow monkey train” is not covered on the Japan Rail Pass. Most of the Shibu ryokan provide a Yudanaka train station pick up service. Otherwise it’s a 2km walk or a 5 minute taxi or bus ride. Buses go from Yudanaka to Shibu Onsen about every half hour.

Shibu Onsen Ryokan Accommodation

Most of the Shibu Onsen accommodation is concentrated on the main street and consists of picturesque ryokan that are the focus of the traditional look of the village. The Shibu ryokans range from simple pension-like lodging to high end and really expensive ryokan.

We stayed at the deluxe Sakaeya Shibu Ryokan. This Shibu Onsen ryokan is modern whilst retaining its traditional Edo period features. Tatami room are generously sized and include an ensuite bathroom. There is also a beautiful on-site onsen with indoor and outdoor baths.

See the Shibu Onsen accommodation page for more information.

Shibu Restaurants and Facilities

If you’ve had enough of eating onsen eggs or eating exquisite meals at your ryokan, there are several Shibu Onsen restaurants. The most westernised is the Koishiya Café and Bar that has a really funky vibe, an English menu, lots of drink offerings, and a mix of food including many mushroom dishes (a local speciality). There is the super cheap and cheerful ramen bar (Ramen Tokumi, English menu), an izakaya, and curry, soba, sushi and yakitori restaurants.

The village has a few cute shops selling Japanese souvenirs. If you need groceries you’ll need to head down to the Yudanaka station area.


Hot Springs

Most of the Shibu ryokan have their own onsen. Otherwise you can visit the little Sotoyu Public Baths. There are 9 of them and each are reputed to provide different healing qualities: stomach and intestinal ailments; skin conditions; cuts/acne; gout; neuralgia; eye disease (not sure whether you’re supposed to put your eyes in the bath!?); general injuries; women’s health issues; and rheumatism/neuralgia. Of course the hot spring baths will probably also make you look gorgeous!

Your hotel should be able to provide you with a map of the town and the baths. Take a towel, and you’ll need to get a key from your hotel or one of the association hotels. And to fully get into the experience, you can walk up and down the street in your yukata and wooden thongs and clip clop along the road.

Other Activities

If you’ve got some time outside of skiing or snowboarding, eating, and onsen-ing, you can wander around the temples at the top of town, and the temples at the top of stairs (including a pet temple).

The Tamamura Sake Gallery and Museum is nice so you can look at some of the historic sake making memorabilia, but better still, you can taste lots of sake and do a lot of kanpai-ing! Just down the road is the brewery, if you want to add beer into the mix (remember that mixy makes you sicksy)!
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Epic Honshu Buffet (Skiers Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional ryokan (Japanese hotel) and food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure!
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Epic Honshu Ski & Snowboard Progression DETAILS
SKI & SNOWBOARD GUIDED INSTRUCTION
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
EARLY BIRD: Book before Sept 30 and get 5% off displayed price
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced
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From price based on 3-night twin/double-share package staying at Hostel Aibiya.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 519
Ability: Beginner
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Shibu Onsen here