Village Info in Zao Onsen
Zao Getting Around
Public transport options are somewhat limited in Zao, but the relatively small size of the resort means that it’s not too much of a hassle. There are some ryokans and hotels that will offer lifts around and shuttle services to and from the slopes, and you should take them up on the offer while you can. The town itself is quite small though, and getting from your ryokan to a restaurant and back on foot won’t be an issue. If you’re worried about getting around on foot, take a look at the resort map and find something that will suit your needs.
Zao ATMs, Bank & Cash
There aren’t many ATMs located throughout Zao and you’re much better off carrying enough cash to get you through the day. However, there are some that you can visit in the case you run out – the Zao Onsen Post Office has an ATM that will accept international cards, which is located right in the center of town.
Zao Onsen isn’t renowned for its shopping and there aren’t many major outlets available. There are a number of convenience stores and a grocery store located in town as you’d expect, as well as a number of ski rental services, too. Those looking to purchase gear in Japan should do this in Tokyo, or Sendai before arriving at Zao.
Most souvenir shops are located within hotels or are simply extensions of cafés and restaurants located throughout the area. There are also a number of souvenirs and gifts available at the tourist center, such as different sake varieties and locally produced Kokeshi Dolls.
Zao Onsen Guide
There’s a reason it’s called Zao Onsen – and that’s because the region is one of the best for enjoying warm, calming onsen water. Almost all of the hotels and ryokans will have in-house onsens for men and women, some with more luxury than others but all fed with the same perfect water, and there are a number of public onsens in town for guests to the area to use. The water in these onsens is sourced from the volcanic mountains, heated and mineralized naturally and brought to the surface in these beautiful baths for guests to use to relax, unwind and experience tranquility. It was originally the onsens that attracted people to the area, hundreds of years ago, and many of the onsens around today are steeped in history. The water is strongly acidic and sulfuric, with anti-bacterial properties and supposedly great for smoothing skin and healing sore muscles.
If you’re looking at visiting the onsens, it may be worth buying an unlimited pass through the purchase of a traditional Kokeshi Doll from the tourist information center. This provides you with free access to a number (not all) of hotels' and public onsens throughout your stay.