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Mt. Zao and
the Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort

Zao

An awe inspiring crater, hot springs (onsen) that have long been famous in the Northeastern Tohoku region of Japan, and the remarkable natural phenomenon of trees that appear to become veritable ice monsters in the winter combine to make Mt. Zao the perfect tourism destination to encapsulate the many faces of Yamagata Prefecture.

The Zao Okama Crater Lake

This natural lake formed in the crater of a volcano is the symbol of Mt. Zao. It is 27 meters deep and 1,000 meters in perimeter, and it is sometimes called the Five Color Lake due to the way its water changes colors from day to day. There are a number of mountaineering routes from the foot of the mountain to the crater, which are active with excited trekkers enjoying the journey up Mt. Zao in the spring and summer. This area is also known for the growth of the incredibly rare Japanese Bleeding Heart, a flower that only grows in extremely high altitudes.

The Zao Okama Crater Lake
  • Crater Lake Viewing Season: Early May to Late October (Winter viewing is inadvisable due to snow related difficulties.)
  • Access: Take the Katta Peak (Katta Sancho) bound bus from JR Yamagata Station for approximately 1½ hours.

Zao Katta Peak Access Map

Zao Hot Springs

Said to have been discovered in 110 AD, the Zao Hot Springs are famous as the oldest of the three great hot springs of Japan’s Northeastern Tohoku region. This hot spring is known for its high acidity, and it is called both “The Princess Hot Spring” and “The Fountain of Beauty” due to its reputation for healing both skin conditions and gastrointestinal disorders. The Zao Hot Springs Resort area is lined with hot spring bathhouses that have been bustling for centuries and rustic traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) filled with fellow travelers. This atmospheric locale is the perfect place to take a stroll while shopping for souvenirs and gifts for your friends.
The famous Zao Open Air Hot Spring (rottenburo) is just a short distance away from the Hot Springs Resort area. There, you can enjoy the liberating sensation of open air bathing surrounded by the beauty of nature. This Open Air Hot Spring is popular with tourists and locals alike!

Zao Hot Springs
  • Spring Water Contains: Acid, Sulfur, Iron, Aluminum, Sulfate, Chloride
  • Effects: It said to heal various injuries and ailments including cuts, burns, skin conditions, feminine disorders, digestive disorders, and anemia.
  • Temperature: 51.8°C (125.2°F)
  • Smell: Strong Scent of Hydrogen Sulfide
  • Color: Transparent to Milky White
  • Lodging Facilities: 54
  • Access: Take the Zao Hotspring (Zao Onsen) bound bus from the JR Yamagata Station for approximately 40 minutes.

Zao Hot Springs Access Map

Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort

The diverse array of courses at the Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort can be enjoyed by anyone, from beginners to experts, making it a great vacation spot for the whole family. Mt. Zao is well known for its high quality snow, which draws droves of excited skiers year after year.
The breathtaking natural wonder of ice monsters standing against a backdrop of pale white snow is a symbol of Mt. Zao. This phenomenon, seen in the photo below, is the result of Maries’ Fir trees that become covered in fine snow and ice until they appear to become ice monsters. It is a natural work of art that is made possible by Yamagata’s unique winter climate.
Skiing between these ice monsters in the afternoon followed by an evening viewing a dreamlike landscape of beautifully lit ice monsters is a sublime experience exclusive to Mt. Zao.

The skiing and hot springs areas are located in such close proximity to each other that you can ski or snow board down the slopes and end up right in the middle of the Zao Hot Springs Resort. When you’re worn out after a day of fun in the snow, take a relaxing soak in a hot spring followed by a delicious meal, and let all your worries fade away. In recent years, the number of skiers and snow boarders from outside Japan has been increasing, and there are multilingual signs and maps throughout this ski resort.

Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort
  • Slope Area: 305 hectares (approximately 570 American football fields or 436 soccer fields)
  • Number of Slopes: 14
  • Number of Courses: 12 (Smaller skiing paths in between larger slopes.)
  • Lifts and Gondolas: 42
  • Top Elevation of Lifts: 1,661m

    PDFMap of Zao Onsen Ski Resort Slopes (PDF:3.5MB)

  • Hours of Operation
    ・Regular Lift Hours: 8:30-17:00
    ・Night Lift Hours: 17:00-21:00
    *Hour of operation are subject to change due to the weather.
  • Rental skis are available at lodging facilities and rental shops.
  • Access: Take the Zao Hotspring (Zao Onsen) bound bus from the JR Yamagata Station for approximately 40 minutes.
    *There is a 100 Yen shuttle bus connecting the two separate skiing areas on Mt. Zao.
  • For More Information Contact:
    Zao Hot Springs Tourism Association (Japanese)
    Address: 999-3301 Yamagata-ken, Yamagata-shi, Zao Onsen 708-1
    Phone: +81-23-694-9328   Fax:+81-23-694-9327
    Zao Hot Springs Tourism Association Web Site (Japanese)

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[For More Information Contact]
(Japanese and English)
The Yamagata Tourism Information Center
Yamagata Prefecture, Yamagata City, Jonanmachi, 1-1-1, Kajo Central
Phone +81-23-647-2333   Fax +81-23-646-6333   E-mail info@yamagatakanko.com