Complete Guide to Enjoy Zao Hotspring Area for Muslim Tourist

2020.02.19

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Yamagata Zao Area

Zao Onsen (蔵王温泉) is a famous hot spring TOWN, Yes you read it right,  it is a whole TOWN, not a hotel name. The whole area is turning into a ski resort arena and various hot spring spot, can you get lost in the town? Not really since it is a small town and integrated as a resort so, you can always ask the locals. But the question is, which part of Zao that convenient to stay for Muslims? 

Zao Hotspring Map, Credit https://skimap.org/data/1402/916/1579492354.pdf

located at altitude 880 meters above sea level in the slope of Mount Zao, an active volcano resides in the border between Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. In winter, Zao is listed as a top destination for winter sport. The topnotch snow powders and challenging slopes attract winter sports lovers from all over the world. The Yamagata Zao ski area has 14 different slopes with 12 courses with different levels of difficulties. The most interesting point this area has to offer is you could relaxing your muscles by dipping in a hot spring bath after a day on the slopes. If you are not a big fan of winter sport, you could enjoy the area by seeing the Snow Monster. Hundreds of pine trees covered in snows appeared as monsters.

SKI AND SNOWBOARD AT ZAO ONSEN

From a look at the map above, there are numbers in green color, that is the ski lift numbers and ropeway. Basically you can ski around that area, you can choose freely where to ski. For the beginner, it is advisable to ski in the mountain base area where there is also slope for kids, you can try around NAKAMORI Slope or OMORI Slope. The NAKAMORI slope located near the main street, if this is your first time come to Zao Hotspring, make sure to find a hotel around the ROPEWAY STATION NO.1, which is near to the bus terminal, tourist information center, and Taxi stand. 

Credit from http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/ski/

How about the Ski/Snow Sleigh/Snowboard Rentals? Where can you get it?

You can find it almost in every corner of the town, close to the ski lift anywhere in Zao Onsen you can find the rental ski/snowboard equipment. But if you stay in a hotel around the area, please ask the hotel staff if they have a rental discount in a specific store. When we stayed in a hotel there, the staff gave me a discount ticket for rentals and a lift ticket. It`s nice and saves me some money

 

Where is the most convenient place to ski for MUSLIM VISITORS?

It is the one located near the ROPEWAY NO.1, just next to the ropeway station, there is Halal certified restaurant named “TURKISH FOOD RESTAURANT” where you can have halal meals like kebab, potato fries, Kebab rice bowl, Turkish ice cream and so on, there are also vending machine station inside the restaurant, so even though you do not buy any food, feel free just to relax and enjoy some hot drinks. 

Around this area, you can also play with snow sleigh that you can rent for around 800~1000 Yen a day if you are too scared to ski or snowboarding. Just play with a sleigh was also fun. At least that`s how I feel. LOL

How can I see the SNOW MONSTER? 

Your trip won’t complete if you can not witness the majestic snow monster in ZAO. There are only three places in Japan where you can photograph the beast and one of them is in Zao, If you see in the second map above, on the top of the mountain, you can clearly see where is the snow monster area. To get there, you have to GET ON TO 2 DIFFERENT ROPEWAY, ropeway No.1 ZAO ROPEWAY SANROKU get off in Juhyo Kogen station and transfer to the No.2 Ropeway ZAO ROPEWAY SANCHO LINE and get off in Jizo Sancho Station. From Jizo Station, you can witness the beauty right away. There is also a light-up during the festival, so please check the date of the snow monster light up if you want to witness more from Zao Monster

 

The place is pack during holiday or weekend, be prepared to wait in the cold for the ropeway

Important Note, 

~ It is better to buy roundtrip ticket

~ Check the weather in the top of the mountain beforehand, when we came there for the first time, we can not see anything, fog everywhere. 

The Hotspring

The water in Zao hot spring is rich in Sulfur. Having an acidity level close to 1, this is the most acid hot spring water in Japan. The sulphuric water has a distinctive green Tosca color and smells. In general, you need to wash before and after dipping in the hot spring. Aside from Sulfur, the water also contain high levels of Iron, Aluminum, and Chloride. Given by the natural rich mineral, Zao Onsen is also known as “Springs of Beauty”. There are many health benefits of the water, including easing muscle pains, chronic skin diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and ‘beautifying’ effect by rejuvenating the skin. 

Private Onsen at Hotel

There are many hot spring baths for you to choose in the Yamagata Onsen area, from Public Bath to Hotels/Ryokan owned bath. But for us Moslem, it might be difficult to find one that suitable for us, as we are not allowed to show our aurah to non-mahram. One place you could try is the Onsen in Oohira hotel, located on the hilly part of the town, quite far from the central ropeway but there is free shuttle bus from the Bus Terminal to the Hotel, so after ski or watch the snow monster, we usually call the hotel to pick us up at the bus terminal. They ensure they hot spring bath only use fresh pure water from the source. Oohira has an OUTDOOR PRIVATE HOTSPRING you can use, this is one of our considerations since we would love to experience Onsen as well. If you are staying in the hotel, the private bath is free of charge but the private bath also available for one day visitor (you can buy the tickets at the hotel concierge). You can call to check the private bath availability to make sure the day ticket still available for that day. Before the trip to Zao, we also request a Seafood meal to the hotel, it is good enough for us. 

All the pictures above are Ohira Hotel private hot spring (Pictures from the hotel website used with permission), We tried two of them and definitely worth to try. During the winter, the hot spring surrounded with snow, look even more beautiful. Check our blog about Guide how to enter Hotspring in Japan below 

To continue, The Access to Zao Onsen…..

ZAO ONSEN WEBSITE

http://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/

Guide on How to Enter Onsen (Hot Spring) in Japan for Muslim

Location:

Access: 15 minutes walk from Zao Onsen Bus Stop (free shuttle bus available)
Official webpage: http://www.oohira.co.jp/en/

 45,491 total views,  2 views today