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 snow continues to fall here, with not much sign of letting up. Had a fantastic day up on Happo yesterday. The morning was clear, which opened up some views of the valley below... from the afternoon the snow picked up again and the feeling of a winter wonderland continues to get deeper and deeper!
Included in the pictures below is a quick, out of focus snap of the Kids Park near the Sakka lift of Happo... the moving platform was pretty busy whisking parents and children up the hill before a sled down.
If it's not your first stop, our restaurant Jardin definitely should be one of the stops on your dining tour of Hakuba. Chef Minohara takes great pride in his blend of French techniques and local Nagano ingredients. More details can be found on the our dining page, with an example of a French full course meal here.
There are a number of other choices in the immediate vicinity however. In no particular order, here a few to start and to give you something to think about.
Our very own in house bar and restaurant. Serving up comfort foods, including pizza (vegetarian available), burgers, caesars salad, as well as a couple of Chef Shinoda's specialties. Reasonably priced good food very close to your home.
A long time favourite (both with locals and guests) of the Hakuba dining scene, Uncle Steven's serves up generous portions of Mexican fare, from nachos to quesadillas to heaping burritos and chimichangas. About a five minute walk from the hotel, near the bottom of the Happo Gondola.
Soba (buckwheat noodles) are the specialty of Nagano prefecture, and Zen is among the best, if not the best place in Hakuba to enjoy them. Friendly atmosphere, great food, about a ten minute walk from the hotel. My personal favourite is the Soba Pizza.
This restaurants name is an example of onomatopeia (the Japanese language abounds with it… this one is apparently specific to the local Hakuba dialect) and it denotes the sound one would make when gingerly taking in hot food. Located just in behind the hotel, it offers traditional hot pot meals in a traditional atmosphere. Perfect for taking the chill off of a cold evening.
Chicken skewers are an example of Japanese style food that is extremely easy for us foreigners to come to grips with. Good and easy eating at very reasonable prices.
Behind the hotel
Great soba, 2 minutes walk from the hotel. Big, wide open space perfect for larger groups. The Kurumi (Chestnut) soba is a favourite of mine.
I got my chance to head out for the first time of the season today... thanks to Yoshi-kun, our sous chef from the hotel, and Sachiko, our restaurant leader, for accompanying me. Bright blue sunny sky following on the last few days of cloud and snow made for a spectacular day to be on the mountain and views for miles around. All the runs aren't open yet, but the ones that were open provided us plenty of chance to stretch out the skiing legs a bit and ensure at least myself a painful day tomorrow.
We undertook one small hike up the ridge a bit to get some fresh powder, and after my "short" rest at the top (always tough skiing with younger coworkers), it was a nice, albeit short, run back down into the open sections. More good stuff to come!
A few pictures taken by our intrepid front desk man Yabu-san yesterday. At this very moment he is making his leave for the daytime hours (he's our resident nightshift specialist) and is making his way to the slopes... grinning from ear to ear! Happo-one is open and not a moment too soon!
Edit: Yabu-san just returned, with a few snaps of his day. A fabulous day for intermediate to advanced skiiers, a little tough for beginners was his verdict. Snow still falling, so presumable we'll have everyone covered in the space of a few days!
On December 12th we had the pleasure of opening our Bar Marzen for the season. Plenty of representatives from other lodges and hotels in the area were kind enough to stop in and sample the hospitality of Takagi-san behind the bar, as well as Chef Shinoda serving up delicious burgers, piping hot pizzas and "Sanzan" curry.
Bar Marzen serves up comfort foods in a relaxing environment, and we have somewhat of a rarity in Japan, a non-smoking bar. Feel free to bring your children and yourselves in after a day on the slopes and relax with a drink, hot or cold, and dig in. A wood burning fireplace, a foosball table and darts machine, as well as sports on the big screen help complete the mood.
Open from 16:00 until 24:00 daily.
Apologies for being a little short on the updates around here. The first week or so of December saw us working like beavers around here giving the building and facilities the odd nip and tuck in preparation for the season upon us.
We are now up and raring to go… the snow has been teasing us somewhat unkindly, but… we do have some action on the slopes. The top section of Goryu and Tsugaike have been open since the 10th and it is snowing outside as I type. The outside temperature is still veering a bit on the side of rain down towards the village, but the six day forecast is pointing towards a continued slow easing in to winter, though we are still hoping on the "big bang" of a big storm to really start the party.
If you want to take a look at some web camera shots of the local mountains, you can find them here.
The information is only written in Japanese, but the pictures along the bottom are, in order from left to right...
Detailed, up to date snow forecasts can be found at
The blog as well should see a bit more focus now and I'll try to keep you updated both on current conditions and to some of the attractions to be found in and around Hakuba. We very much look forward to seeing everyone here this winter enjoying some of the best of what Hakuba and Japan have to offer!