Hakuba’s main attraction during the warmer months is the hiking and the most popular day hike would be Happo Ike ( Happo Pond). Each day hundreds of people of all ages ascend up into the mountains to this spectacular viewing platform. I would rate it on a world scale at “as good as it gets”. The journey starts with a Gondola ride and then 2 chairlifts that are lowered after the winter which brings you closer to the natural foliage. The top of the resort by itself has some amazing views for those not up to the hiking and is certainly worth the trip. For the more adventurous the 45 minute hike along some rocky pathways and boardwalk steps will offer up some breathtaking vistas along the way. The route follows the ridgeline so there are many vantage spots for photos and even the most novice of photographers will be taking professional shots here. The rocky step sections along the way can be a little difficult to manoeuvre so take your time on the hike and absorb the environment. Once you reach the pond the views will amaze you with the stunning back drop of 3000 meter peaks. This is truly a special place.
The Hakuba Valley is a spectacular mountain region located just 1 hour from Nagano City. Famous throughout Japan for the number one ski resort of Happo One which was the showpiece for the 98 Winter Olympics, Hakuba also shines during the warmer months with an abundance of natural beauty. Sitting at 700 meters above sea level the mountain range towers the village at 3000 meters. There are spectacular views from many vantage points throughout the valley. Pure mountain air, fresh water from our rivers, food from our farms and a huge range of activities await those who want to get away from the summer heat of the big cities. The hiking is world class with absolutely stunning scenery. Other activities include paragliding, mountain biking, fishing for Shinshu Salmon, canoeing, and canyoning. Nature gives us a wild flower extravaganza that combines with a vast array of animal, bird and insect life. Kamoshika is common to see as are kiji pheasant. An early evening firefly canoe trip on Aokiko will certainly surprise your nocturnal senses.
Eating out in Hakuba at anytime of the year is a gourmets delight with so many outstanding restaurants and something for everyone’s taste.
Come and enjoy Hakuba and everything it offers.
- Indoor Skate Park in Hakuba
True Players opened in 2012 and has been a great addition to Hakuba, offering another alternative to the many ski slopes on offer and is also open all year round. The park is learner friendly and is open daily from 9am – 11pm. Each session will cost just Y500 (please note there aren’t any boards for rent so bring your own). The park consists of a 12ft vert ramp, 3 mini ramps (7ft, 4ft, 1ft) with a spine transfer in-between, street style banks, ledges and rails. Another cool feature on the small mini ramp is a rope attached to the roof for skaters to hold while learning new tricks.
True Players is located in the Happo area, just off the Olympic road near the Mimizuku Onsen (ask any local and they should be able to direct you).
LaLa Matsumoto is a great place to spend a lazy rainy day any time of the year. I decided to go on a long weekend which I knew would add to the experience. Generally I don’t particularly enjoy crowds however sometimes I find that by throwing a couple of thousand people into a confined area will create a lot of funny moments. Just add water. A tip here is to buy a floating ring to get the full Japanese pool time effect. Just to make things easier for you there are compressors at the entrance to inflate them. Size limit on your floating device is 105cm. I liked the “Lazy River” pool which takes you around the whole pool area on a current. The slides are fun but will obviously have a big line on the busy days. They crank up the swell every hour or so in the wave pool which pulls in the crowds. This is where it gets a little crazy with so many people bouncing off each other, lots of laughing and kids screaming. Lala is located on the northern side of Matsumoto.
Open 9am to 10pm (closed Tuesdays)
The Nagano train station has recently installed some large lockers so you can now store your skis and snowboard bags securely whilst you go and explore the city center before heading out to Hakuba or one of the many other ski resorts. The lockers are located on the upper concourse just opposite and left as you come out of the shinkansen (bullet train) ticket check. There are also some smaller lockers at the bottom of the stairs on the street level of the west (Zenkoji) exit. The largest ones cost 600 yen for the day. 6 x 100 yen coins.
Coin Locker Updates (April 2015 onward)
Nagano’s locker situation has changed since the station had its full face lift. You can now find coin lockers in two areas of the station, one on the second and another on the first floor. They’re all decorated with Nagano-inspired characters like Arukuma and anthropomorphic vegetables, so they’re hard to miss. Read below for more information!
East Exit Lockers
On the second floor near the Shinkansen ticket gate and Newsday convenience store.
|Extra Large||800 yen||13|
*The price for small lockers will increase to 400 yen beginning April 1st, 2016.
Zenkoji Exit Lockers
On the first floor of Nagano station between it and the Hotel Metropolitan. Heading towards Zenkoji, take the escalator downstairs.
|Extra Large||800 yen||7|
Come to Hakuba to enjoy a great selection of international wines and join the seminar to improve your knowledge.
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There has been some early snowfalls on the 3000 meter peaks creeping down to mid resort level over the last few days. It is a beautiful time to visit Hakuba with the autum leaves in full flame colours and the magnificent white snow covered peaks in the background. Snow season is not to far away
Cortina is one of the Jewels in Hakuba’s crown. Situated at the northern end of Hakuba, in the Japanese Alps, the ski resort of Cortina links up with another resort called Norikura on the southern side. It takes about 25 minutes from the center village area of Hakuba to reach the resort Cortina is renowned for it’s powder and is in fact listed as one of Japans top snow fall resorts. The micro climate of the area tends to draw more snow into the resort so a small amount down the valley could be a lot more up that end. Cortina is a great place for a day trip when the powder is deep. Other days you might want to be on one of the big mountain resorts that have a bit more variety like Happo One. The tree skiing at Cortina though is some of the best you will find in Hakuba and at the end of the day take in a soothing onsen before moving back into the town center to enjoy the restaurants and nightlife of Echoland.
Hakuba has a lot of natural beauty however it does not have any Geisha girls living in the village. Today I took a drive to Togura Kamiyamada Onsen about 80 minutes away via Nagano. I was invited to the Kamesei Ryokan to sample their Kaiseki lunch where they have some local Geisha girls performing traditional dance, song and play the shamisen. A great afternoon and definately worth checking out if you have a day off from your busy skiing schedule in Hakuba. The area is a traditional onsen town and the Kamesei Ryokan has a beautiful soft water onsen bath to relax in before you sit down to your lunch.