Hi, we will be flying into Nagoya in end Nov and my tentative plan will be Nagoya – Takayama (via the Limited Express Wide View Hida) – Shin Hotaka ropeway -shirakawago – Kanazawa – Nagano (via the Kagayaki) . By the time we arrive in Nagano, it should be around 5th or 6th Dec. (dates not fixed) We should have about 4-5N in Nagano. We really wanted to go skiing, but am afraid the season will not be open yet and there will be no snow at Habuka. I also plan to go and see the Snow Monkey and Matsumoto. Appreciate any advise on possibility of going to ski in Habuka during that time, If yes, which resort would yield the best chances ? We are a family of 4 (2A and 2 teens) . Should I do the snow monkey and Matsumoto from Nagano as my base or should I go straight to the ski resort and attempt to do day trips out from resort ? If there is no possibility of skiing (anytime from 5th Dec -10th Dec), any other areas I can cover ? I am exiting out of Tokyo, so my lsat leg will be Nagano-Tokyo for 1N and catch my flight out thereafter. Looking forward to valuable suggestions on how to improve my itinerary ! Thanks !
Snow conditions in late November and December fluctuate every year, so I can’t promise whether or not most resorts will be open. But based on last year’s season, you may be able to ski at one of these resorts:
- The Karuizawa Prince Ski Resort opened on Nov. 3rd in 2016 (very reliable thanks to artificial snow).
- The top area of Ryuoo Ski Park opened on Dec. 3rd in 2016.
- Kumanoyu Ski Resort (Shiga Kogen) opened Dec. 9th in 2016.
- The Tsuganomori area of Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort (Hakuba) opened on Dec. 10th in 2016.
Check weather reports and ski resort blog posts for more information as winter approaches. I would recommend visiting Matsumoto or the snow monkeys first before skiing, as generally the ski resorts improve the later in December you go. The snow monkeys are at the base of Shiga Kogen, so if you plan to ski at Kumanoyu you can stay in Yudanaka/Shibu Onsen for both.
Karuizawa is on the way to Tokyo from Nagano, so if you would like to ski there you could spend your last day or two in Karuizawa. It is a known as a summer resort area and has many cafes, shops and villas. The Karuizawa Prince Shopping Mall (located very close to the ski resort) has over 240 shops and restaurants with brand name goods at outlet prices.
If the ski resorts aren’t open, here are some other things you may be interested in seeing:
Chuo Alps Senjojiki Cirque: A beautiful ampitheatre-shaped bowl carved by glacial movement over thousands of years. Ride one of Japan’s longest ropeways to heights of over 2,600m.
The Kiso Valley and the Nakasendo: Once an important trade route between Kyoto and Edo, the Nakasendo had 69 post towns where travelers rested along their journey. The Kiso Valley has preserved many of these towns and the atmosphere of Edo period architecture takes you back in time. Tsumago, Magome, and Narai post towns are especially popular.
I hope that helps answer your question. Let me know if I can help you with anything else.
Hi Blair, thanks for your suggestions. Certainty very helpful ! I will look into all these possibilities ! Thanks !
how will be the weather be generally like in Nagano during these times ?
The temperature in Nagano may be between -1°C and 10°C, and it may or may not be snowing during your travel. Expect colder/snowier conditions in the mountains of Hakuba and Northern Nagano.