Our Story

From the Yoji Family to the Robinson Family | The Story of Yoji Nozawa

Welcome to Yoji Nozawa! Whether you are staying with us on a ski holiday, a long-stay to escape the summer heat or looking for a quiet place to work outside the city, we hope you’ll feel right at home. Yoji Nozawa is nestled in the quiet Shinyu neighborhood of Nozawa Onsen, next to the river and steps away from the Shinyu Pair Lift.

A bit about Natsuko and I. In 2014 Gardner and Natsuko Robinson bought the property from the family who built the original house nearly 80 years ago and the lodge next door (about 30 years ago) that was connected to the house. The family was in their 80’s d had not run the lodge in more than a decade and the snow clearing was becoming a burden. They wanted a young family to take over and agreed to sell the property to us after talking with neighbors knowing we’d be living in Nozawa Onsen year round. Each year we’ve been doing a bit more renovations and Yoji Nozawa now features a 3-bedroom apartment, 4-bedroom house (the lodge next door we separated completely), a new studio apartment and a  yoga/fitness studio space.

I first came to Nozawa Onsen in 1997 to snowboard, the year before the Winter Olympics in Nagano, and fell in love with the village and the ski resort. I was born and raised in Oregon, and have lived in Japan for more than 20 years after working and traveling in New Zealand, Australia and Micronesia (Saipan). In 2000 I started Outdoor Japan (OJ), a small media company promoting travel, adventure travel and tourism in Japan. OJ publishes the Outdoor Japan website, an online booking site for travel and tours called Outdoor Japan Adventures,  Traveler magazine, the Japan edition of The Surfer’s Journal and the Japan Snow Guide. Natsuko  grew up in northeast Japan in the seaside city of Sakata in Yamagata Prefecture and also fell in love with the snow, hot springs and the village. In December 2011, we opened up The Craft Room, Nozawa Onsen’s first craft beer bar, and in 2014, Natsuko and I – and our one-year-old son Tai – made the move to Nozawa Onsen full-time. In addition to The Craft Room we signed on to be the managing partners of the The Schneider Hotel, opening the hotel in 2014 and running it for four seasons. In 2018 we handed over the reigns to long-term employees so we could spend a bit more time with our boys (our second son Koa joined us in 2016) and focus on our own projects, The Craft Room, Yoji Nozawa and our new project called Winterland, a boutique lodge and new Gyoza Bar that we we hope will be a great addition to the village when it opens in October, 2018.

Guests at Yoji Nozawa can relax and explore Nozawa Onsen at their own pace throughout the year whether it is a family or friends on a ski holiday to score some of the legendary Nozawa pow, or artists or designers looking for some inspiration and a quiet place to work (there is free high-speed wifi). After work hard or playing hard there are several hot springs right out the front door. We also welcome families looking for long-term rentals to escape the heat and get their kids outside. We love snowboarding, traveling and helping introduce travelers to this great little corner of the world.

Gardner, Natsuko, Tai and Koa