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 area around the source contains several well groomed trails through fairly dense forest. There are a couple of courses one can follow, neither of them very long, but all in all... it's an extremely nice place for an afternoon walk. As it's along the Himekawa Cycling road, it's an ideal place to take a bit of a break before perhaps continuing on to Aoki Lake or turning around back into Hakuba proper.
The parking lot for Sanosaka, is about 10 minutes drive from the hotel. If you are coming into town from Matsumoto, you'll see the Sanosaka Ski area and parking area on your left as you come down the hill from Lake Aoki. Entrance to the park itself is only signed in Japanese, but enquiries at the Sanosaka Tourism Center should get you pointed in the right direction.
Information (in Japanese)
Like many a man since the dawn of time... woke up with a few problems on my mind. Got myself to the top of a mountain, took a look around, and by the time I got back down, all those problems seemed to be less important somehow.
Happoike is a pond up towards the top of Happo-one. Sitting at an elevation of 2060 m it is, in all honesty, a fairly easy hike if you take the gondola and lift part of the way up. Great views of the valley, though it was a little hazy on the day I was up there. The surrounding mountains of Yariga-take, Shakushi-dake and Shirouma-dake were imposing and luckily able to be seen clearly.
Happo-ike is the entry point to climbing Karamatsu-dake, where full scale climbing gear is required. Next time!
Happo "Adam Gondola" is a seven minute walk from our front doors, and the round trip hike, if you take the gondola and lifts, can be completed in about 4 hours. Longer and more challenging options for those who feel like spreading out a bit more.