There are a lot of famous Sakura viewing spots in Japan. Their beauty is often exposed through media, inspiring us to make a visit to appreciate it. They are elegant and gorgeous indeed. In the mean time, however, there are thousands of nameless Sakura in our neighbourhood all over the country. They are equally beautiful. If you are in Japan during the season, look at the hotel ground or street co...
Shirakawa-go is located in the village of Gifu Prefecture. The houses are well known for their special construction in the architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri. The roofs are made of thatch(dried silver grass) and resembling prayer hands. It still has a population about 2,000 people, still living in the houses. Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, there is no such “living” World Her...
Radiation levels remain safe in Hakuba, Nagano!
When it comes to Christmas in Hakuba, it reminds me of Norman Rockwell's snowy Christmas scene without any over-hyped commercialism yearning for a simpler time! This year in Hakuba is turning into a real White Christmas as you can see from the photo. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
In Hakuba, we are lucky to be living in the world where nature has one last fling before settling down into winter’s sleep. The 3 layered autumn colors (Sandan Ko-you) and the landscape scenery are just truly breathtaking. As days grow shorter, nights grow longer, temperature becoming cooler and crisp, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape of Northern Alps in Hakuba transf...
Cohabiting with nature and wildlife, a "Hello" from the neighbors!!!! To me, they look like a cross between a cow and a donkey. For some, a pig and and a goat. But most commonly they're desrcibed as Japanese Serow or a goat antelope! Known in Japanese as the Nihon kamoshika, kamoshika are often solitary, silent and secretive wanderers, browsing through their forest territories. They are often seen...
Golden Week, or the traditional Japanese spring holiday, is upon us. The hotels are busy, the hardcore skiiers are taking advantage of their last chance to get out for the season, and the parking lot at Hakuba 47 resembled a party as people relaxed in their camp chairs out the back of the van with BBQ on the go as they took turns getting a few, well, turns in on the slopes. This week also sees t...
Big thanks to Randall, Midori and all for putting on the fantastic mountain bike rally in Ikeda, just down the road from Hakuba and the Hakuba Springs Hotel. An early start saw the windy and cool conditions overnight give way to some rays of sun through the afternoon. The valley spreads out as you head down towards Ikeda and as you can see it affords some very nice views of the town do...
Here in Hakuba we are doing our best to help in whatever way we can following the devastation of March 11. There are a lot of things up in the air still at the moment, but one thing all lodge owners, including us at the Hakuba Springs Hotel, in the village of Hakuba have done is to offer up beds for some of the displaced in the northern regions of Japan. While we are waiting to see how everyt...
Shirakawa-go is located in the village of Gifu Prefecture. The houses are well known for their special construction in the architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri. The roofs are made of thatch(dried silver grass) and resembling prayer hands. It still has a population about 2,000 people, still living in the houses. Declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, there is no such “living” World Heritage site other than Shirakawa-go.
The village will light up by illuminations every year between January and February. It is planned from 17:30 to 19:30 and the dates in 2012 are as follows.
January: 21(Sat), 28(Sat)
February: 4(Sat), 5(Sun), 11(Sat), 12(Sun), 18(Sat)
Don’t miss them!
Cohabiting with nature and wildlife, a "Hello" from the neighbors!!!! To me, they look like a cross between a cow and a donkey. For some, a pig and and a goat. But most commonly they're desrcibed as Japanese Serow or a goat antelope! Known in Japanese as the Nihon kamoshika, kamoshika are often solitary, silent and secretive wanderers, browsing through their forest territories. They are often seen around the village on the ski slope or even at Donguri village just 5 minutes from the hotel by car. But to really spot them, you must sometimes have to scan the wooded slopes of the valley. Binoculars, 「YES」 it'll be a great help.
Golden Week, or the traditional Japanese spring holiday, is upon us. The hotels are busy, the hardcore skiiers are taking advantage of their last chance to get out for the season, and the parking lot at Hakuba 47 resembled a party as people relaxed in their camp chairs out the back of the van with BBQ on the go as they took turns getting a few, well, turns in on the slopes.
This week also sees the Shionomichi Matsuri, or the Salt Road Festival, which is spread over three days between the towns of Otari (Cortina and Tsugaike), Hakuba itself and Omachi, just a step down the road. The festival commemorates the old Salt Road, in olden days, the route over which salt and other supplies were brought in and by Hakuba on their way down to Matsumoto and further into central Japan. The valley itself is steep and tight before widening out somewhat in Hakuba and then moreso in Omachi, and one can only admire the fortitude of those early people making their way down the narrow paths with their heavy burdens.
The festival itself is basically a walk recreating the route, with various diversions (food, drink, music) arranged along the way. It is a relatively low key affair and is an example of a local festival that still retains it's charm and doesn’t try to be something that it's not. The Otari portion of the walk is roughly ten kilometres, spanning from the Otari City Office back to the Tsugaike parking lot. A good workout to be sure, and some absolutely beautful vistas… and, erm, lots of opportunity to see "Fundoshi" clad (the little diaper things like sumo wrestlers wear) local villagers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I suppose!
The Foundation Day long weekend is just winding down here in Hakuba and in Japan, and in some ways it is what could be considered the peak of the season.... at least skier number wise. The town was definitely hopping this weekend, and a few of our longer staying guests took the wise move of taking a rest from the hills. The always popular snow monkey tour was a good option.
The Gondola station was busy this morning, as you can see by the photo, but by this afternoon the unlucky working stiffs will be back in their cars or the train back to Tokyo, and those visiting from overseas will have the place to themselves for the most part
All in all, the 30cm or so of fresh stuff we got overnight and more on the way Tuesday apparently should set things up for a very very good week!
Fashions come and go, and some, well, should stay gone but... These fine gentlemen from Western Australia have graced the hotel for the last week or so and in the spirit of a "lads" outing one of them has had the pleasure each day of donning... "the yellow jumpsuit from the 80s". Worn with style and panache it helped me identify them with 100% certainty from the opposite slope at Cortina the other day.
Can't thank these guys enough for their spirit, their keen interest in Japan and Japanese food, and their all around sense of good fun around the hotel. See you back next year!
Ventured out to Cortina today, at the far end of the valley. Cortina, despite it's relative distance from central Hakuba and Happo (about 45 min by shuttle bus) is well loved and for good reason. It's a comfortable resort, not too big, not too small, sees some of the best snowfall around and is centered around the Green Plaza Hotel which boasts a few nice places to eat as well as a very nice onsen. Well worth a day of your trip!
I'm currently in the midst of research for buying a new board for next season, and Will at the Boarding Co. was kind enough to set me up today... nice ride, and good service (picked up from the hotel, fitted up, and whisked back to the hotel in a flash). Cheers for that.
Have to admit, warmed my heart a bit seeing "I love Hak" carved into the snow.... spend a day like I just had and I'm pretty sure you will too!
A simply fantastic sunny day where the mountains surrounding Hakuba come into perfect focus. Managed to tear myself away from the hotel for a bit of a ride at Tsugaike...
Even better today however, as we had a good treatment of snow this morning before the sky cleared for another clear sunny day. Jealous of all those out there!
Dining in Japan is, in many ways, one of the highlights of most peoples visit. The range of food, the presentation and the obvious love the Japanese have for eating wellis something that one can feel in every eating establishment in the country, no matter how exclusive or how humble. In Happo, surrounding the Hakuba Springs Hotel, we have a multitude of traditional options, from Soba (Nagano speciality), to Nabe (hot pot) to the most beloved of Japanese dining and drinking traditons, the local Izakaya.
One thing not to overlook however, is our Restaurant Jardin. Chef Minohara's take on French cuisine cosistently draws rave reviews from our guests, both Japanese and those visiting from abroad. So yes, take in all that Japan has to offer in the way of traditional food, but also make sure you reserve at least one night to join us for what we think may be the meal you look back on as the best of your stay.
New Year's Eve came and went in a typical Japanese fashion for us and most of our guests. Although there were all night options to be found in town, most of us opted for a reflective bowl of toshikoshi soba (traditional New Year's dish) and then a short walk down from the hotel to the Nakiyama Lifts to enjoy a short but lively Taiko drumming demonstration. Free nightskiing was the attraction for many.
The chill of the hour ensured that we were ready and waiting at Suwa Shrine at the stroke of midnight to contribute the customary amount to shrine's coffers, ring the bell, and then to clap our hands three times and offer a short prayer for the coming year. By the time we left, the formerly silent shrine hosted a long lineup back to the street, with some contemplative and others a little more boisterous as they were just getting warmed up for the night ahead.
Waiting for everyone the next morning was the traditional drink of Japanese Sake in which to properly greet the new year!
Welcome to 2011!