The best way to get to Tokyo from Narita airport?

By / 19th November, 2016 / Transportation / Off

2016-11-19-03-07-17-pm

I  have already written about “The easiest way to get to Tokyo from Narita ,  The Fastest Way to Get to Tokyo from Narita and The Cheapest Way to get to Narita but with increased tourism, services continue to improve and with the added demand many things are getting cheaper! Although the trains are pretty cool in Japan, buses are most often the easier way to travel. You always have a seat, there are no stairs to climb, and they have a large luggage space under the bus for your suitcases, board bags, and all your shopping.  So now there is a 1000 yen bus service to Tokyo from Narita Aiport. The Access Narita bus has regular service (about every 15 minutes),  they accept cash on the bus so there is no need line up to buy a ticket, and have 3 pick-up/drop off points. If you are coming to Hakuba by Keio Higway Bus from Shinjuku you will need to take a train or subway from Tokyo Station or Ginza but takes no longer than 20 minutes and cost no more than 200 yen.

Update: From January 6th to March 4th, 2017 Alpico will offer 1 overnight bus from Tokyo Station to Hakuba. You can find the schedule here. I don’t really recommend overnight buses but if you do decide to take it, I recommend getting off at Escal Plaza, the main entrance to Goryu. They have chill out rooms, huge lockers, rental gear and more and you can get an early start and be first on the lift in the morning!

You can use Hyperdia to check for trains, schedules and fees.

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Walking Map for Goryu Village, Hakuba

Goryu Village Walking Map

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Hakuba Valley discount lift passes

By / 9th November, 2016 / The snow resorts / Off

hakuba-map-

There seems to be a lot of confusion about lift passes in Hakuba. Considering Hakuba has over 10 resorts in the valley, the “Hakuba Valley Pass” sure sounds like a good deal but actually, I don’t really recommend it. One thing most people don’t realize is that it needs to be used within a set number of days. The 2 day pass must be used within 3 days, and the 3 day pass expires after 5. One good thing about the Hakuba Valley Pass is that as of the 2014/15 season you will be able to use more than 1 resort in 1 day. However, you will need to make your way to the ticket counter to exchange your Hakuba Valley Pass for a day ticket at the resort of your choice.   UPDATE: For the 2016/17 season, the bigger resorts are now buys replacing lift ticket gates so you will not have to line up to exchange your pass. I hear they won’t be able to replace all of the ticket gates yet instead some of the gates will be manned and you will have to show your pass to get through the gate. If you are really keen to check out more than 1 resort in 1 day , and want the convenience of not lining up in the morning then the mulit-day Hakuba Valley Pass is for you. However, if you are happy to stick to 1 resort a day and you are looking to save some money than the Multi-Day Passes from the resorts themselves, or discount passes for sale at the lodge provide better savings and in some ways more flexibility.

Some of the better deals to be had are:

A 3 day pass at Hakuba Goryu/Hakuba 47 is ¥12,600
A 5 day weekday pass (any 5 weekdays) at Hakuba Goryu/Hakuba 47 is ¥17,900
A day pass with lunch and onsen (spa) at Cortina is 3500 yen with a coupon.
A day pass at Kashimayari is 4100 yen
A day pass at Sanosaka is 3800 yen
A day pass at Yanaba is 2500 yen weekdays and 3500 yen on weekends
A 2 day pass at Happo is 8800 yen

The Hakuba Valley Pass (1 to 3 days available at all Hakuba Ski Areas)

1 day 5700 yen
2 day 10,000 yen (valid for 2 out of 3 days)
3 day 14,900 yen  valid for 3 out of 5 days)

The Hakuba Valley Pass (4 to 7 days must be ordered in advance).

4 day is 19,700 yen (valid for 4 out of 7 days)
5 day is 24,400 yen (valid for 5 out of 9 days)
6 day is 29,000 yen (valid for 6 out of 10 days)
7 day is 33,500 yen (valid 7 out of 11 days)
If you are a beginner, you are better off not buying a day pass at all. Instead, there is a point pass (kaisuken) available that deducts points from your pass as you use the lifts UPDATE: some of the resorts in the Hakuba Valley, like Happo and Cortina, will not offer these types of tickets during the 2015/16 season. However, at Hakuba Goryu/Hakuba 47 you can still buy an 11 point pass for ¥4000. We highly recommend practicing your turns in Iimori, they have long gentle slopes, and its much quieter there too. Each lift is 1 point, while the gondola will deduct 2 points. Unlike day passes, the points do not expire at the end of the day, so if you only use a few points one day you can use the rest on any other day.

***At Lodge tabi-tabi we have discount tickets available ever year!!!! We have some of the cheapest tickets, if not the cheapest day passes in the valley! Another great reasons to stay with us! Rates and availability varies but at the moment (December 31st, 2015) we have 1 day passes for the following resorts in the Hakuba Valley:

Goryu / Hakuba 47:  pay ¥4000  at tabi-tabi    (regular ¥5000)

Happo One:  pay ¥4200 at tabi-tabi      (regular ¥5200)

Iwatake:  pay ¥3,200  at tabi-tabi      (regular ¥4200)

Tsugaike: pay  ¥4000  at tabi-tabi      (regular 5,100)

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Getting ready for season 2016 and 17 in Hakuba!

We are now prepping for another epic season in Hakuba! With every season we provide new upgrades to our services and facilities. For the upcoming 2016 / 2017 winter season the lodge will have new curtains, painted black boards, an updated check-in counter and information area, and freshly coated walls. Just last spring as the snow was melting we finally got a chance to rip off all the old wallpaper. It was a big job but we got a lot of help from our hardworking helpers (Thanks Ken, Chris, and Steve!). Now the resurfacing has begun (with the help of Frank and Sandra). If you are curious,  we are applying a natural lime-based plaster called shikui which has been used for centuries in Japanese architecture and is revered not only for its durability and beauty but is also considered to be the most environmentally-responsible plaster finish available.  It helps to prevent mold and mildew during the Japanese humid summers and acts as a natural antiseptic for better air quality all year long.  We hope you like it as much as we do. We have had a lot of time to hone our shikui skills at our summer location, Retreat wabi-sabi. Have a look:

Now back to the winter season 2016/17 in Hakuba:

We’ve got dinners and other treats planned. Yu-chan, our friendly manager from Osaka will be joining us again this year and is planning “Osaka Nights”, where you will learn how to make (and eat of course) Osakan specialties like okonomiyaki and takoyaki! Look out for home-baked goods, and breakfast items like home-made greek yogurt, batches of freshly-made granola, chia pudding, and fruit compote!

About the snow, as many of you probably know, last year Hakuba experienced its worst season in 120 years! That’s right, it’s doesn’t get worse then 2015/16. And it won’t, we promise you! Forecasters are still talking about La Nina, arriving this fall and with a little research you will see that La Nina means huge dumps of snow to central Japan. Come on, La Nina! Also speaking from experience (that’s now 12 seasons in Hakuba) a poor snow season is always followed by an epic winter!

In fact, The Free Ride World Tour is so confident that it will be an awesome winter that Hakuba has been scouted for their world class event. It is the first time that a location has been chosen in Asia! Yes, the Japanese Alps are epic too! Epic enough for the world’s gnarliest of skiers and snowboarders.

Temperatures here in Hakuba are now dropping, the peaks are all covered with fresh white snow, but we hope it stays warm for a little longer though because Shikui doesn’t dry well in cool temps. Once all the plaster has been applied though, we’ll be praying for snow and hoping that this coming season will make up for the last. Here is a little something to get you in the mood:

Now you may not be quite up to joining the World Free Ride Tour, or camping out in the back-country, but we have got tours to provide fun for every level and every kind of snow lover. tabi-tabi will once again be offering Snow Surf  (aka yukiita) Tours!!! We now have the largest quiver of bindingless boards, so we have something for everyone! And trust me everyone CAN do this! It is pure joy, like tobagganing for adults.

We are now on booking.com and airbnb but book direct and we will have some freebies for you! Go to “book now” and we’ll see you very soon!

Angela, Yasu, Yu, and the rest of the 2016 / 2017 season tabi-tabi crew!

白馬五竜/Hakuba47スキー場

By / 9th June, 2016 / more @ja, スキー場 / Off

Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort

tabi-tabi最寄りのスキー場で徒歩10分、近接のホテルサンマルテ前からのシャトルバスでのアクセスも可能です。
遠見ゲレンデ、飯森ゲレンデ、Hakuba47と3つのエリアが共通券で楽しめ、初級者から上級者まで様々なコース、圧雪、非圧雪、エリア最大のフリースタイルパーク、会員制ツリーランエリアとバリエーションに富んだ楽しみ方ができます。
大量降雪の後は、五竜ゴンドラ、47ラインCといったリフトは運行開始が遅れる傾向があるので、その場合は飯森コスモ4からスタートし、状況を見て移動するのがオススメです!

◯オススメ

1、五竜ゴンドラ
頂上駅から山麓駅まで一気に滑り降りるコースはジャンプスポットやヒットが多く、降雪時や朝一のコーヂュロイは特にオススメ!大きくて速いゴンドラは荒天時でも快適。

2、47ラインCリフト
急斜面〜緩斜面、ツリーラン、沢地形、迂回路、パークとこの1本のリフトで回せます。降雪時には特にオススメですが、防寒対策をしっかりと。

3、飯森コスモ4リフト
混雑とは無縁のリフトで迂回路のロングウォール、大きな一枚バーンをこのリフト1本で楽しめます。リフトのスピードが速く効率的に滑れるのも魅力です。

Shikisai, a Kushiage Restaurant in Goryu

By / 24th February, 2016 / Bars & restaurants, Food, Goryu / Off

Shikisai Kushiage

Many of our guests who are visiting Japan for the first time will ask for the local sushi restaurant, problem is,  Japanese people save their incessant taste for the raw delicacy for their trip to the sea. Fish is freshest and therefore tastiest, by the ocean. If you really are really craving for Japan’s most famous cuisine, we highly recommend taking a trip to the coast. Itoigawa has tons of fish restaurants and is only about an hour away by train. While you are in Hakuba, you can get your sushi fix at Kikyoya but you should really try some other varieties of Japanese food as well.

The Goryu Village now has a new specialty restaurant serving kushi-age (aka kushikatsu). Age (pronounced “ah-geh”) means fried and Kushi refers to the bamboo skewers that are used. You can even see the bite sized morsels skewered on sticks in the Kanji (Chinese characters) for Kushi-age 串 揚げ!

The Chef doesn’t speak English but there is an English menu that includes a thorough description of how to enjoy his fresh from the fryer bite sized morsels. You can choose exactly which and just how many skewers you want or let him choose from his seasonal selection. The night we were there there were 30 different skewers on the menu. I’m a pescetarian and he had no problem choosing from his selection of seafood and veggies. My dinner partners had a few morsels of meat but if you tell him you are vegetarian (it will help to say “yasai dakeh” meaning “only vegetables” and “kudasai” (please).

He will serve 1 or 2 skewers at a time and place them in front of the recommended dips. All you need to do is dip and eat. Kushiage went very well with draft beer he served in frozen glasses but he has a very nice selection of sakes, shochus and soft drinks as well.

Finally, finish of in the traditional way with a bowl of rice. At Skikisai they have 3 different kinds of ochazuke (bowl of rice soup) to choose from. Yummmm!

Shark & Taties, Hakuba’s best fish & chips

By / 20th January, 2016 / Bars & restaurants, Food, Goryu / Off

Fish & Chips in Hakuba

So the other night I was at Tracks Bar with my Sorels tossed aside hoping to dance up another snow storm when a hunger pang forced me back to the bar to order a bite to eat. I had yet try their almost-famous fish and chips from their connected take-out shop, Shark & Taties so without hesitation but with a drunken slur, I ordered the small NZ style fish & chips for only ¥700. And I must admit, I have never been to New Zealand or England, and I am therefore no connoisseur,  but they were by far the best fish & chips I have ever tasted! I could not stop thinking about those crispy beer battered gifts from the sea and so 2 days later I was back with an extra growling gut. My partner and I ordered 1 batch  of chips, 4 pieces of fish, and 2 pineapple fritters. We managed to get some pics before it was all devoured but then couldn’t resist ordering more! More fried goodness, tender fish, and juicy pineapple.

I highly recommend trying some Shark & Taties and even though it’s meant to be a take-out shop, I suggest you just order a plate and eat at Tracks Bar instead. They have an amazing selection of beers for less than you’d expect to pay. Go on the weekends and you will be treated to best live music in  the Hakuba Valley…. no make that Nagano Prefecture, or even Japan!

地獄谷野猿公苑

By / 16th January, 2016 / スキー場以外での楽しみ, 観光 / Off

Japanese snow monkeys

世界で唯一、温泉に入る猿として世界 的に有名になったSNOW MONKY!雪の中で温泉に浸かるお猿さんを地獄谷野猿公園でみることができます。

地獄谷野猿公苑は、長野県の北部、上信越高原国立公園の志賀高原を源とする横湯川の渓谷に位置し、険しく切り立った崖に囲まれ、噴泉が絶えず噴煙を上げており、その光景に、いつしか人々はこの地を地獄谷と呼びはじめたとのことです。標高850m、地獄谷の冬は厳しく1mを越える雪に覆われ、最低気温が-10℃を下回ります。厳しい環境を生き抜く猿たちを間近で観察することができます。

駐車場から徒歩30分、雪のある時期は足元が悪く、スパイクや長靴の使用がおすすめです。

地獄谷野猿公苑
jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp
9時頃〜16時頃
Lodge tabi-tabiから車、公共交通機関をりようして1時間半〜2時間

Snow Monkeys!

By / 16th January, 2016 / Day off, Road trip, Sightseeing / Off

Japanese snow monkeys

Every body loves the monkeys! And although, if you’re in luck, you can spot some monkeys in Hakuba, the famous Japanese snow monkeys are a day trip away. If you have a car set your navigation to Jigokudani Monkey Park. From the parking area you will need to walk about 30 minutes through a snowy forest so be prepared and bring some boots!

If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get to see the monkeys is to join one of many tours departing Hakuba Goryu everyday. It’s a full days journey, includes lunch, and makes a few more sightseeing stops along the way. Most tours include Nagano City’s famous Zenkoji Temple, tours may also include a sake brewery where you can taste local sake for free! Book early, or better yet, book well in advance because these tours fill up quick.

Joyful Day Tours offers daily tours departing from Mont Blanc Hotel at 8:25
Sanroku Tours offers tours on Tuesdays and Fridays and has a pick up at Kamishiro Station Ski Japan has daily tours departing Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop

Ski Japan Tours has an easy online booking system (click on the link) but charges more for their service. We are also happy to help you book any tours by phone.

Your cheapest option, especially if you are traveling with a few people, would be to rent a car. More about renting a car here. But if you are not confident driving in the snow, or forgot to get an international driver’s license before departing your country, yet are on too tight a budget for a hassle free tour, you can simply take public transport instead!

To get to Jugokudani Monkey Park take a bus from Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop to Nagano, then transfer to an express bus bound for Shiga Kogen and get off at Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi Bus Stop. The most current timetables and fees posted in the information area at Lodge tabi-tabi. Let’s us help you find your way!

Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort

By / 2nd January, 2016 / Snowboarding, Something else, The snow resorts / Off

Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort

Lodge tabi-tabi’s home mountain, Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort, has a lot to offer. Back-country enthusiasts have endless options if they are willing to hike and have the right gear. Check conditions or better yet, get a guide because people go missing here every year.

For those who enjoy the comforts of Goryu‘s high speed gondola and well groomed runs,  there are wide steep runs enjoyed mostly by high level skiers. The cat track down the center and along the top part of Iimori is meant for beginners but has fun walls great for boarders who like to shred. While the lower half of Iimori has wide quiet runs with a gentle slope perfect for those still practicing their turns. Iimori also has a small park with kickers and jumps. Hakuba Goryu is connected to Hakuba 47, you only need 1 pass to use both resorts. A day pass is 5000 yen for adults, you will save money if you buy one of their multi-day passes or ask us about our discount passes!

During the 2014/15 season Hakuba Goryu opened a new off-piste area skier’s right off The Champion. The ungroomed area is controlled by patrol so may not always be open. Keep checking it. On powder days this natural terrain is very good fun!

Access from Lodge tabi-tabi:
It takes 10 minutes to walk to Goryu’s gondola The nearest shuttle stop is in front of San Marute Hotel, take the short cut through the forest, turn left on the road and it’s the first hotel on your left. You will see a bus stop with an Escal Plaza sign on it. Please check the lodge for the time-table.

Discount lift passes for Hakuba Valley Resorts

By / 31st December, 2015 / Lodge tabi-tabi, Services, The snow resorts / Off

Hakuba Discount Lift Tickets

Lodge tabi-tabi has a wide selection of Hakuba discount passes available. We will be posting our best rates at the lodge everyday. At the moment we have discount passes for Happo-one, Goryu / Hakuba 47, Tsugaike, Cortina, and Iwatake. Sorry, these discounted lift tickets are available for staying guests only. One more reason to stay with us!

Narita Airport to Hakuba by bus

By / 31st December, 2015 / Transportation / Off

Narita to Hakuba by bus

If your flight time matches up with Aplico’s once a day direct bus, this is possibly the best way to get to Hakuba from Narita airport and back. Extra roomy seats with, not only plenty of leg room, but also a leg rest so you can snooze for the entire 6 hour journey. If you will be joining us at Lodge tabi-tabi be sure to get off at Hakuba Goryu bus stop, we are a 10 minute walk from there. Check our access page for a map of the area. We can be a little tricky to find because we tucked away at the end of a road but keep your head up and eyes open for signs along the way.

Please check the Alpico website for timetables and fares. You can book online at Japan Bus Online or Japanican. I have no idea why they don’t have a direct booking option. It’s always best to book direct! Of course, we recommend booking your accommodation direct too! For other travel options check out our transportation pages on our blog and read the rest of my articles for all kinds of other useful information and local insights.

 

Nagano Snow Shuttle

Nagano Snow Shuttle Schedule

The Nagano Snow Shuttle now has 4 departures daily from Narita airport to Hakuba. If you will be joining us at Lodge tabi-tabi, please get off at Kamishiro Station, we are a 10 minute walk from there. The late night departure arrives after midnight, but will you off at your accommodation.

 

 

Hakuba Valley Resorts: Sanosaka

By / 8th February, 2015 / The snow resorts / Off

Hakuba Valley Sanosaka Ski Resort

If you are a beginner to intermediate skier or snowboarder, Hakuba Valley’s Sanosaka Ski Resort is the place for you! Wide open runs with few people on them means you have plenty of space to practice your turns. It’s definitely one of the smaller resorts in the valley so it’s easy to navigate and a little more gentle on your wallet. Sanosaka has amazing views of Lake Aokiko below and is protected from the wind so when big resorts in the valley are shutting down their gondolas because of strong winds, you can keep cruising in Sanosaka.

There are regular shuttles to Sanosaka from the Goryu Village. Please check their website or Lodge tabi-tabi‘s information area for the latest time-tables.

Hakuba Valley Resorts: Kashimayari

By / 8th February, 2015 / Snowboarding, The snow resorts / Off

Hakuba Kashimayari

Kashimayari is by far our favorite night riding spot. While most of resorts have night skiing available they tend to only keep the bunny hill open. Kashima however, runs several lifts providing access to beginner, intermediate, park runs and even a bit of off-piste.  UPDATE: Although still a fun spot for night riding, our favorite lift is now only open during the day.

During the day when all, or at least most runs are open, Kashimari has beginner to advanced trails with some ungroomed runs for powder lovers. Most people have not heard of Kashimayari which makes this a great resort for those wanting to get away from the crowds and if you really want to chill out they even have an excellent spa with majestic mountain views.

To get to Kashimayari from The Goryu Village:

Hakuba Valley Omachi Shuttle Bus Line provides several shuttles a day to/from the Goryu Village. Please check their website or Lodge tabi-tabi‘s information area for current time-tables.

You can also take the train from Kamishiro Station in Goryu to Yanaba Station and walk from there. The 12 minute ride costs ¥210.

 

 

Yanaba Snow Park

By / 18th January, 2015 / Snowboarding, The snow resorts / Off

2015-01-18 05.08.34 pmSounds like Yanaba is taking another year off and will be closed for 2016/17 season.

After being shut for a season, Yanaba has re-opened in 2014 by new owners. Although the resorts has always been known for it’s nye-tahs (night skiing). Yanaba is now even more focused on bringing in locals for a late night shred with an updated bar, more features in their park, and extended lift hours.

Yanaba has it’s own train station, Yanaba-skijo-mae (NOT Yanaba) so it’s really easy to get there from Kamishiro Station in the Goryu Village and the ¥210 ride only takes 9 minutes. You can use the hyperdia website to check for train schedules or check the information area at Lodge tabi-tabi.

Yanaba Weekday Hours:
15:00 – 11:00 (¥2,500)

Yanaba Weekend Hours:
9:00 – 16:30  (¥3,500)
17:30 – 23:00  (¥2,500 )

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Rapie (rah-pee)

By / 7th September, 2014 / Backcountry, Gear, Services / Off

rapieFor any and all back-country gear, summer and winter, hiking and skiing, buying or renting, we always go straight Rapie. I used to comparison shop, and waited to return to Tokyo thinking I could get a better deal but now I know better. Rapie has the best price for the best products and sells everyhing you could possibly need. I also found out they will order it for you if it is not in the store, and fix anything that is ripped or broken like zippers or tears in your tent. You will not find better service or expertise anywhere.

Rapie is on the 148 (main road of Hakuba) near The Big Supermarket (aka Max Value). You can also find it on our google map here.

Open: 13:00
Closed: 19:00

Rapie tel: 0261-72-7550
email: N/A

This is a blog entry written by Lodge tabi-tabi. Please don’t use our contact information to contact Rapie. Thanks!

Narita Airport to Hakuba direct

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

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The easiest way to get to Hakuba from Narita airport is to take the shared Chuo taxi. The 15,900 yen per person service will take you door to door from Narita or Haneda airport to you accommodation in Hakuba. No transfers, and no bags to lug around up and down the train station stairs. To make a reservation you will need to fill in a form at least 48 hours ahead of time. You can find the form, and more details here.

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Narita Airport to Central Tokyo, ….. the easiest way.

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

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The easiest way to get from Narita Airport to central Tokyo is by the Friendly Airport Limousine Bus. Most of you are probably wanting to take it to Shinjuku Station’s west exit but there are endless destination points to choose from including major Tokyo Hotels.

Terminal 1 has five tickets counters, while Terminal 2 has two tickets counters, all with helpful English speaking staff. Buses depart right outside of Narita aiport’s central exit every 20 minutes. The bus stop is on the ground level so no bags to haul up stairs or maneuver through escalators. You can roll your airport luggage cart through customs and right up to the bus luggage compartment. There are even some friendly staff attending to passengers, checking tickets, and making sure your gear is safely stored in the baggage compartment under the bus.

Ask for a window seat to get some great views of Tokyo bay and the urban sprawl of one of the most densely packed cities in the world.

A bus to Shinjuku will cost you about 3000 yen one way and take between 85 to 115 minutes depending on traffic. For current travel times, fares, departure and arrival options, check out their English site here

Narita Airport to Central Tokyo, …… the fastest way

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

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The fastest way to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport is to take the N’EX (Narita Express) train. You can depart from either terminal and choose from a number of arrival stations including Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Shinagawa.

If you are transferring to the Keio Highway bus bound for Hakuba you will want to get off at Shinjuku Station. If you plan to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Nagano, you should get off at Tokyo station.

The journey will take from 65 – 105 minutes depending on your departure time and destination. The one-way fare to Tokyo station is 2940 yen. If you wish to get off at Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa, or Ikebukuro the fare will be 3110 yen.

UPDATE: JR is now offering discounted return tickets on the N’ex to foreign passport holders. More here.

For more details on fares, departure times,  combination tickets, and online reservations click here.

Keep in mind, trains station are often underground and require maneuvering up and down stairs and escalators, or elevators if you are lucky. If you have more bags than you have the strength to carry, I highly recommend taking the bus to Tokyo instead. You can read about the Narita Aiport Limousine bus here.

If you would rather not stop in Tokyo at all, and come directly to Hakuba from Narita Airport, you can take the shared Chuo Taxi. To find out more and to make your (required!) reservation, click here.

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Narita Airport to Central Tokyo, ……. the cheapest way.

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

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If you have a bit of extra time to spare and you’re not lugging a board bag or skis around, then you might as well take the Keisei line from Narita to Nippori. The Keisei Main Line Limited Express (the red line) takes 76 minutes and costs only 1000 yen.  At Nippori Station you can transfer to the Yamanote line for the 21 minute, 190yen ride to Shinjuku, or the 11 minute, 150 yen ride to Tokyo. From Shinjuku you can catch the Keio Highway bus to Hakuba while Tokyo is the main transfer hub for the Nagano Shinkansen.

Check out Hyperdia to help you make sense of all of Japan’s train routes, here.

For any and all transportation questions, you can also call the super friendly folks at the JR English Info Line at: 050-2016-1603 . Drop the first zero if you are calling from overseas and don’t forget to add Japan’s country code, 81.

How to get to Hakuba from Osaka or Kyoto

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

osaka_to_hakuba_map

Tokyo has the easiest and most direct access to Hakuba so if you are trying to choose an airport to fly into, pick Narita or Haneda. For travel options from the Tokyo area, please check out our transportation entrieshere. If you have been exploring the country, hanging with the geisha in Kyoto, or got a good deal on a flight to Osaka, then you will have fewer transportation options when making your way to Hakuba.

If you are travelling on a JR rail pass then best stick to JR trains. From Shin-Osaka, Shin-Kobe, and Kyoto, you can catch the Takaido Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya and then change to the Shinano line bound for Matsumoto. In Matsumoto you will need to change to the Oito Line, where there are a few direct trains to Kamishiro/Hakuba but others will stop in Shinano-Oomachi where you will have to board a connecting train bound for Hakuba. If you will be joining us at Lodge tabi-tabi, be sure to get off at Kamishiro (NOT Minami-Kamishiro) station. From there we are a 10 minute walk or a 1000 yen taxi ride.

UPDATE: Until this year it was not possible to buy JR Rail passes in Japan so if you forgot to buy your pass and didn’t know about these passes you were out of luck. But now, JR is offering more flexibility and a greater variety of passes for foreign tourist in Japan. See for yourself if one of these passes would suit your travel itinerary. More here.

Alternatively take the Thunderbird to Kanazawa and then change to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Nagano. You can get off at Itoigawa and take the Oito Line to Hakuba. If you will be joining us at Lodge tabi-tabi, stay on the train for 2 more stops and get off at Kamishiro Station. We are a 10 minute walk from there.

If you are like me,  and don’t mind a little extra travel time if it means less transfers and less hassles, then I suggest taking the Shinano Limited Express from Osaka at 8:58 am. This train will arrive at Matsumoto station at 13:03 where you can change to the Oito line bound for Hakuba. Although a little more out of the way, you can get off 50 minutes later at Nagano station and then take the Alpico Bus bound for Hakuba. Please note, the ¥1500 yen bus fare will not be covered by a JR Rail pass but all Oito Line trains from Matumoto are.

UPDATE: The Shinano Limited Express stopped running in March 2016.

If you are looking for the cheapest way to get to Hakuba, and don’t have a JR Rail pass, then I suggest taking the Hankyu Bus from Osaka or Kyoto to Matsumoto and the train from there. The 5 1/2 hour journey from Umeda costs 5,700 one way and 10,000 yen return. For a link to the Hankyu Bus schedule and fares, click here. The train from Matsumoto to Hakuba is another ¥1200 and you may need to transfer in Shinano Oomachi station.

UPDATE: From December 16, 2016 to March 25th 2017, Alpico Group will be offer overnight buses from Osaka and Kyoto to Hakuba. Although I don’t recommend overnight buses at all, of you do decide to take this bus I recommend getting of at Escal Plaza, the main entrance to Goryu Ski Resort. They have lockers, a coat check for oversized bags, chill-out rooms, a hotspring bath and shower, and rental shops so you can get sorted and be the first on the lift that morning!

For all train fares, and schedules, check Hyperdia or Jorudan, or talk to a travel expert at the JR English Travel Information Line between 10:00 and 18:00 at:

050-2016-1603

If you are callin from overseas, drop the first zero and add the country code, “81”.

Happy travels!

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How to get to Hakuba from Niseko, Sapporo, Hokkaido

By / 6th September, 2014 / Transportation / Off

FDA Fujidream airlines
If you are starting out your snow holiday in Niseko or anywhere else on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, and will then be joining us in the Hakuba Valley, you should be prepared for at least one day of traveling. I have been asked many times ” What’s the best way to get to Hakuba from Niseko “, and although I have done the journey several times I have never taken the easiest or the fastest route because for me, the best way to travel is the most adventurous way. I have once taken an overnight sleeper train from Tokyo to Sapporo and and I have now taken quite a few overnight ferries between Hokkaido and the main island, Honshu. I will try to provide as much information on as many possible routes as I can, and leave you to decide what is the best way.

The Most Direct Route

BUS: Hirafu Welcome Center – New Chitose airport     (2-3 hours   ¥2300)
FUJI DREAMS FLIGHT: New Chitose Airport – Matsumoto Airport   (1hr 45 min   ¥26,800)
ALPICO BUS: Matsumoto Airport – Matsumoto Station    (25 minutes   ¥540)
JR OITO LINE TRAIN: Matsumoto Station – Kamishiro Station*    (96 minutes   ¥1110 )

*You may need to transfer once in Shinano Oomachi. This may just be a quick change from one track to the next. Some transfers may only give you 2 minutes to switch trains. *

The easiest way to get to the New Chitose Airport is to take a bus from Hirafu’s Welcome Center. There are several bus companies offering this service. It is possible to buy a return bus ticket (to/from the airport) for about ¥4000, or ¥2300 one way. The one way journey usually takes between 2 to 3 hours but I would give yourself at least an extra hour in case of delays due to road conditions.

Fuji Dream Airlines has a once daily direct flight between the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo and the Matsumoto Airport in Nagano Prefecture departing at 14:15 and arriving at 16:00. If you book more than 1 month in advance the adult fare is ¥26,800 one way, while the regular rate is ¥35,600. It is possible to book this flight through JAL’s English website.

Plan ahead and you may be able to get some major discounts. Foreign tourists can get domestic flights for around 10,000 yen if you purchase the tickets before leaving your country. So plan ahead and save. More about special flight deals for foreign visitors here:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2364.html

The Alpico Bus Company provides buses from Matsumoto’s Airport to the train station. Bus departure times are scheduled according the flight arrivals. The journey takes about 25 minutes and costs ¥540.

There is a 16:47 train bound for Hakuba (with a quick change in Shinano Oomachi) that arrives at Kamishiro (the closest station to Lodge tabi-tabi), and at 18:15 and Hakuba’s main station at 18:22. If you miss that one the next departure is about an hour later at 17:59, arriving at Kamishiro station at 19:28.

NOTE: If you are joining us at Lodge tabi-tabi please get off at Kamishiro Station NOT Minami Kamishiro Station which is one station prior. From Kamishiro Station you can walk Lodge tabi-tabi in about 10 minutes, here is a map. Or order a taxi by calling: 0261-72-2221

The Most Adventurous Way

So I was going to write here about taking the slow boat from Otaru, Hokkaido to Niigata and taking the train from there onward to Hakuba. However, it seems the ferry service will be stopped (hopefully temporarily) on January 6, 2014. If you are travelling before this time, you should know ferries depart at 10:30 a.m. from Otaru and arrive 18 hours later in Niigata. For trains schedule to/from the Otaru and Niigata, please check hyperdia. UPDATE: It seems every year the ferries between Otaru and Niigata stop sailing the first week of January. This winter, January 4th, 2017 will be the last ferry on this route until spring. However, you can still catch a ferry between Tomakomai in the south of Hokkaido and Niigata for the rest of the winter.  More about ferry services in Japan, here.

And the overnight train I mentioned? Well unfortunately, it stopped running in March 2016 but they are now working on a shinkansen line connecting Hokkaido to Honshu. Kutchan is expected to be connected in 20123!

The Most Common Way

Most people catch a flight from Chitose, Hokkaido to Tokyo. Try Jetstar, Vanilla and Peach airlines for some of the best deals. Or book your domestic ANA or JAL flight before you leave home and you may get similar rates. Check the transportation section of this blog for information on how to get to Hakuba from Tokyo.

Happy travels!

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Rent-a-Car anywhere in Japan

By / 6th September, 2014 / Day off, Services, Transportation / Off

car_rental copy
The best way to explore Japan’s country-side is with your own set of wheels. We suggest you check out ToCoo! rent-a-car. They have over 800 outlets, offer services from 12 different car rental companies, have a huge choice of vehicles, and an easy-to-use English website where you can check prices and reserve your vehicle. Although you can pick up your car at the airport when you arrive, most people prefer to make their way to Nagano by bus or train, and pick up their car in Nagano City instead. If you pick up your vehicle in Nagano or Matsumoto there is no extra fee for snow tyres, you can also request ski/snowboard racks, child seats, and all cars come with GPS. There is no extra fee for dropping off your vehicle at a different location as long as it is in the same prefecture. Smaller vehicles go for 4200 yen a day and they also offer long-term discounts. Driving in Japan is remarkably easy, other drivers are courteous, just remember to leave a little extra space between you and the car ahead when you are driving on snowy/icy roads. To rent a car in Japan you will need a credit card, a valid driver’s license, plus an international driver’s license which you have to get in your home country. Click on the pic for more details.

If you would prefer picking up your car in Hakuba, I suggest you book early! Here are some rental car companies with English services and pick ups in the Hakuba Valley:

Toyota Rent a car

Windy Car Rental

JHN Travel

An Onsen Oasis

By / 5th September, 2014 / Goryu, Hot springs / Off

 

Hakuba Goryu Onsen Those of you who were in Hakuba a few years back will fondly remember Obuya Onsen. The onsen with endless options. Obuya has a new owner and is now called Hakuba Genryu no Yu. They have a large washing area, large indoor bath, large outdoor bath, a steam room/bath inside a tiny hut, and a good selection of single use baths where you can put your feet up and your head back. This you must try during one of Hakuba’s big snow falls. Watching huge lit up flakes floating towards you can best be described as a adventure through the galaxy,  all while keeping warm and soaking in the therapeutic waters of one of Hakuba’s best mineral water sources.

UPDATE: The smaller baths and the steam room will not be put to use this winter. The indoor and outdoor baths are still fabulous though.The indoor bath area still smells of fresh hinoki, a Japanese cypres admired for its strength and aromatherapeutic qualities.

The outdoor area is steamy and the stone bath is surrounded by a thick blanket of snow while the hot alkaline rich water does wonders for dry winter skin.

Hakuba Genryu no Yu is a 10 or 15 minute walk from Lodge tabi-tabi. Just a few steps past the popular steak house, Guu.  You can also find it on our recommendation map here.

Charge: 500 yen
Open: 9:00 – 21:30

Nagano Snow Resort Pass

By / 7th January, 2014 / Day off, Sightseeing, Transportation / Off

Train and bus pass for Nagano

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By / 19th June, 2013 / Bars & restaurants / Off

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Kikyo-ya, a sushi shop in Hakuba

By / 7th March, 2013 / Bars & restaurants / Off

kikyo-ya-hakuba-raw-fish-donburi

Google “best sushi in Hakuba” and you will undoubtedly be sent numerous links to reviews for Kikyo-ya. Don’t trust the inter-webs? Then maybe you should have a look at the writing on the wall. Here are just a few of the enthusiastic messages written by Kikyo-ya’s devoted customers:

kikyo-ya-best-sushi-in-hakuba

Kikyo-ya is on the 148 not far from Hakuba Station, directly across from the Boarding Co. Look for the Japanese cherry-blossom emblems outside. I suggest you sit at the counter for the ultimate sushi experience, and watch the master chef at work as he slices the most delicate fish to create Japan’s most celebrated cuisine. The charismatic owner will also help you choose another sake, while their extensive seafood menu (also in English) will make you want to come back for more.

Open: 11:00-22:00
Tel.: 0261 72 3633

NOTE: This is a blog entry written by Lodge tabi-tabi. Please don’t use our contact information to contact Kikyo-ya. Kikyo-ya’s number is 0261-72-3633

Alaskan Burger

By / 25th January, 2013 / Bars & restaurants, Goryu / Off

Alaskan Burger Hakuba

There is a new burger shack in town and what a pretty shack it is! This is actually Little Alaskan’s second location. Their first cozy cabin is still up and running on Olympic Road near Happo One Ski Resort while this colourful second shop is conveniently located right across Escal Plaza at Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort.

Both locations serve excellent chargrilled gourmet burgers. They have a choice of beef or chicken paddies and offer a huge assortment of toppings including the less obvious avocado and pineappple. The Olympic Road location also serves a fish burger which I am hoping they will add to the menu in Goryu.

A gourmet burger of your choice is around ¥1000. French fries or homecut fries are an extra ¥300 to which you can add toppings like cheese dip for another ¥100.

To wash it all down they serve beer on tap, soda, and juice.

Open: 12:00 – 20:00

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When in Tokyo….

By / 7th October, 2012 / Road trip, Something else / Off

Nui Japan backpackers Tokyo

I’m often asked to recommend a place to stay in Tokyo but since I live in the city 5 months of the year and have always had my own apartment, I have never had to look for accommodation, well, until last week that is. I moved out of my old place and while looking for a new Tokyo abode I had to find a place to crash for one night so I took this opportunity to look for an interesting place to stay. We had heard about Toco Backpackers and Nui Hostel from a friend, who’s friend’s friend, is part owner.

Nui is more than just a hostel, it’s an amazing creatively designed space meant to bring together people from all over the world. Set in an old warehouse, it still has lots of industrial touches like the high ceilings, floor to ceiling glass doors across the front, and the over-sized freight elevator. Comforting touches of nature are incorporated with their 8 meter long tree-trunk bar, and a massive de-barked tree that stands in the center of the 1st floor lounge. The bathroom doors have original handles forged by a local lady black smith artisan. Nui has private rooms and dormitories available on the upper floors. They have free wifi throughout the building and a computer for all to use. I have no doubt that the yet-to-be-completed kitchen and library on the 5th floor will be another amazing creative feat of eclectic design.

If you are looking for something more Japanesy, you might want to try their second location, Toco Backpacker’s Inn and Free Space Bar Lounge, an old ryokan built in 1920 and completely refurbished by the same creative crew that built Nui Hostel & Bar Lounge.

Although both locations are within easy reach of Narita and Haneda airports, you should keep in mind that neither neighbourhood, Iria or Kuramae, are in the must-see section of your guidebook. Instead, Nui and Toco, provide a great escape from the big city bustle with easy access to the rest of Tokyo.