Driving from Tokyo to Hakuba around mid December 2016?

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Ivan Male Hong Kong 2016/11/15

Hi! I would like to ask if there will be any difficulty to drive from Tokyo to Hakuba through Nagano city? And after skiing, we would like to drive from Hakuba to Gunma as well for Onsen. May I know if the road and weather condtion allow us to do so? Or raiway is better?

Answers
Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2016/11/15

Hi Ivan,

This depends on the weather and your comfort with driving in snow, but yes you can certainly drive between Tokyo, Hakuba and Gunma with no problem during winter. The highways are plowed well and snow tires make driving in snowy conditions relatively easy. But, always be careful of icy roads.

Hakuba is approximately 4 hours away from Tokyo by car, and depending on where you travel in Gunma, it may be 2-2.5 hours back from Hakuba to Gunma. I would definitely recommend spreading this trip over two to three days.

Also, be aware that several roads in the prefecture close during winter time. Route 292, which travels through Shigakogen from Nagano to Gunma, and the Venus Line, which runs through Utsukushigahara, Tateshina and Kirigamine highlands, will be closed in mid November until mid-late April.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

-Blair

Guest 2016/11/18

Our brief itinerary as follow:

13/12  7am: From Narita Airport to Monkey Spring, then to Hakuba

14/12 to 16/12: Skiing in Hakuba

16/12: From Hakuba to Gunma 草津溫泉

17/12: 輕井澤 to Tokyo

18/12: Tokyo tour, then back Hong Kong

May I know if we should buy the JR 5 day pass for the above Itinerary? Also will the Nagano Snow Resort Pass fit for the above itinerary for the first two days?

Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2016/11/21

Hi Ivan,

In your previous question you mentioned driving through Nagano, have you since changed your mind?

The JR Nagano-Niigata pass is very useful but it does not cover all of the transportation options in Nagano prefecture. The train line and bus for the Snow Monkey park are run by a separate company and are not on the pass, and neither is the bus between Nagano & Hakuba or Karuizawa & Kusatsu. The pass will most likely only cover your shinkansen fares, which come close to the cost of your pass, but do not exceed it (Pass is 17,000 yen, expected shinkansen fares are 16,230 yen).

The Nagano Snow Resort Pass will be available again from Dec. 3rd, 2016 to Mar. 31st, 2017. Like last year, the price for adults is 5,000 yen and for children is 2,500 yen. The routes are the same as last year as well. For your schedule, you could use it to travel to and from the Snow Monkey Park (via Nagano) and then to Hakuba on the 13th. While in your Hakuba, there are free shuttle buses between resorts so you will not have to use your pass then. Again, the price of the pass will be slightly more expensive than your fares (5,000 yen versus 4,600 yen).

I hope that helps answer your question.

-Blair

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