The Japanese love of Hot Springs, or "onsen" is inseparable from the national character. People will gladly travel many hours just for the chance to have a soak in one of the many thousands of hot springs throughout this volcanic country. The "onsen" experience, like so many things in Japan, is a multilayered experience. Some hot springs form the focal point for a whole tour...
A boundless range of other activities can be found in Hakuba and area, from canyoning to paragliding to rafting to kayaking to canoeing, arts and crafts and more!
The Nagano Prefecture area and beyond offer a variety of sightseeing opportunities, from the laid back ambiance of Matsumoto, with it's justly famed Matsumoto Castle, to he beauty of Zenkouji Temple in Nagano City, to the resort shopping town feel of Karuizawa...and more.
There are many hiking opportunities around the Hakuba area, ranging from challenging multiday hikes to ones that are more suited to the "strolling". The one constant is views of the Japanese Alps and the surrounding countryside that is sure to soothe the soul.
Japan is a cyclist's paradise in a number of respects. Forgetting the highways for a moment, it is a country of well kept roads, many of them with very light traffic (thanks to those highways!) which lead you through blissful scenery and villages where time seems to have stopped, or at least has slowed down a bit, with a refreshment stop or lodging for the night never more than a few km...
Hakuba can be your base for many fascinating day trips, on the way up or back from the major centres, or to break up your ski vacation.
June 18 - 19,
A tour from Asama-onsen just outside of Matsumoto up into the hills and plateaus of the maganificent Utsugushigahara Highlands.
Details (in Japanese) can be found at this website
Late August to Early September.
Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto is an annual classical music festival held in August and September in the Japanese Alps near Matsumoto. Founded in 1992 by music director Seiji Ozawa, the festival's resident orchestra is the renowned Saito Kinen Orchestra.
May 28, .
One of the biggest events of it's kind in Japan, held annually on the last Saturday of May. Woodworking, ceramics, glass blowing, leather working and various other displays of artisans skills are on display and available to buy. The weather is generally sublime at this time of year and the people of Matsumoto make this one of the best weekends of the year!
The Tsugaike cycling classic is a hill climb over some 20 kms from the main highway winding up past the Tsugaike Gondola all they way to the top of the Ropeway. A climb of just over 1200 metres, it is sure to bring out some fine competitors as well as a general good time mood along the route.