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.
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.