Japan Travels: Skiing in Hakuba - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Japan Travels: Skiing in Hakuba

The Bell of Happiness and the main slope in the Goryu ski resort
Japan is well-known for its many great skiing destinations. Among the best places you can visit is the prefecture Nagano, which also was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. This weekend Yuma and I went to Hakuba, a small village in the Nagano prefecture where many of the Olympic events were held back in 1998. We took a night bus from Shinjuku and arrived in Hakuba early in the morning. The place was totally packed with people, so we had to wait for quite a while until we could rent the necessary equipment.
Ski rental at Hakuba Ski Stadium
Yuma ready to go skiing!
The ski resort we went to actually consisted of two ski resorts combined to one - Goryu and Hakuba 47. In other words, it was a pretty huge ski resort (I've included a map at the bottom of this post for your reference)! If you are lucky you can also encounter some wild animals during your ski adventure. From the ski lift we spotted three Japanese serows (known as Kamoshika (カモシカ) in Japanese), and some Americans even told Yuma they had seen a bear cub! Ah, how I would have liked to have a picture of them..
On a total side note: It seems like many people I've met here care a lot about having some sort of certificate to better be able to "prove" their abilities in a certain field. You can find a large variety of more or less useful tests here in Japan, many of them related to language learning (I guess most foreigners in Japan are all too well familiar with the JLPT, and some of you might have heard about the kanji kentei)), but there are also a lot of more or less useful tests to display your level of knowledge when it comes to for anything from movies, BBQ and towels. There is of course also a ski-kentei out there, and Yuma passed level 1 last month. Which means he's a pretty good skier (although I have to say I'm not too sure he'll ever get to use that ski diploma for anything useful in the future).! That also means he is at least as crazy as me when it comes to trying out the most extreme slopes we could find.
A nice restaurant inside Goryu
Fantastic view from the top
Kids learning the basics at Hakuba 47 
A One Piece snow-sculpture
In general there was very few times we had to line up in order to use the ski lifts. Because the ski resort was so huge there were many slopes to choose from, and we just picked routes where we were less likely to encounter the largest crowds. By taking our lunch break early we managed to get tables really easily, and we also enjoyed the nearly empty slopes when the other skiers went for lunch.  In addition, the weather was perfect so the few times we had to wait we just spent the time relaxing in the sun.
Relaxing in the sun
The main slope in Goryu
There are many pages out there where you can find information about Hakuba, like how to get there and where to stay. If you don't speak Japanese you could visit Hakuba Tourism, the homepage of Hakuba 47 or take a look at this Hakuba Guide. Ski Japan also has some general information if you are uncertain about which ski resort to visit. If you know Japanese then you might get a nice deal if you use Snowclub to order a package trip that includes lift tickets, lodging and bus. That's what we did, and the package we bought included a lot of free coupons for ski rental, food etc. 
That's all for now, as usual thanks for reading my blog post! Please feel free to leave any comments/questions below.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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