The feeling of soaking yourself in a natural hot spring bath after a cold day out on the hill is hard to put into words. It is a real pleasure and we think everyone should give it a go. It doesn't just warm you up and leave you with a healthy glow, but it will also help your muscles after your exertions on the slopes. Highly recommended.
Yuzawa sprung up around an onsen. Around 900 years ago an ancestor of the family who run Takahan ryokan discovered the current spring source while wandering in the hills. The current ryokan sits right next to the same spring which still fills the baths to this day.
Most accommodations aren't so lucky to have their own spring source but many have the water pumped in. The water from different springs is said to have curative properties depending on its mineral content, so each onsen has a breakdown of their water on the wall.
If you are just up for a day trip you can still enjoy an onsen. Many resorts have onsen in their facilities (like GALA's spa), or there is likely to be one close by. Many hotels will let you buy an entrance ticket for their hot spring spas. We like the ones at the Yuzawa Grand Hotel, Takahan, and Ishiuchi's Jung Parunas. There are also specialist onsen facilities as well as a hot spring bath with sake in it at Echigo-Yuzawa Station's sake tasting hall, Ponshukan. Most places will also sell you a small onsen towel so you don't even have to prepare anything.
Once you've had an onsen after a day of skiing or snowboarding you'll wonder how you ever managed without.