Zao Onsen

Zao Onsen (蔵王温泉) is a popular ski resort and hot spring town in Tohoku. The resort is known for its excellent powder conditions and also for its ‘snow monster trees’.

Budget travel tips

  • Works well with trips to Yamagata and Yamadera.
  • Contact your hostel or hotel to see if they have rental discounts for guest.
  • Use the 24 hour Family Mart in town for cheap food.
Zao Snow Monsters


Zao Onsen Ski Resort

With 15 slopes and 12 courses, there is a lot to do at this resort. There is also a snowboard park. The foreign language signage is excellent.

Open: 8:00-21:00

Price: Full-day 5000 yen, 4-hours 4300 yen, Night time 2000 yen

How to get there

From Yamagata station, take the Zao Onsen bus (45 mins, Adults 1000 yen, Children 500yen).

From Sendai station, there is a direct bus to Zao Onsen (100 mins, Adults 1600 yen, Children 800yen) Reservations are required, which can be done at Sendai station.


Hostels and cheap hostels

Yoshidaya Ryokan

Traditional Japanese hotel in the center of town. Free Wifi and parking available. Check prices at

Pension Puutaro 

All of the above, but in a slightly more modern and luxurious setting. Check prices at

More at

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict