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!
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!
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!
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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.
Charge: 500 yen
Open: 9:00 – 21:30
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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
If you are an onsen virgin (as one of our guests called it) you may be feeling a little reluctant to bathe with the locals. Many foreigners feel strange about being nude with others, but let me assure you, everyone is naked under their clothes, and everyone leaves their clothes behind when they take an onsen. If you too undress, you will fit in perfectly, no need to feel uneasy or out-of-place. And anyway, you will most likely never have to see these people again so who cares if they get a peak at your barest essentials. Even if you don’t care about the nudity, you may be worried about embarrassing yourself by committing the worst of faux pas while having nothing on to cover up the shame. The first time I went to an onsen I had a good friend take me through the process step-by-step. I have to admit it was not the most relaxing experience the first time around, but now, 100s of onsens later, I have to tell you this is an experience not to be missed! So let me take you through the process step by step and hopefully you too will feel confident enough to have a go at one of Japan’s oldest and most popular traditions. Click on “read more” for a detailed 9-step onsen procedure.
Da Monde is commonly known as “Darts Bar” and rightfully so. They have 2 electronically operated dart boards that will keep track of your score so you can focus on your toss. They also have karaoke, and a good selection of manga for those who prefer to put their feet up and do a little reading (in Japanese). Da Monde is about a 10 minute walk from Lodge tabi-tabi, you can also find it on our Goryu Walking Map here.
Lantern Rirun is an old lodge with a great new bar and after-hours club serving strong drinks, danceable tunage, and a super-chill local vibe. The night I was there DJ Haiyato was churning out some sweet trance and techno, along with some housy beats. He was well in tune with the crowd and kept all of us wacky people on our dancing feet. Looking forward to getting loco with the locals again soon!Â
I’ve been suffering from a cold so, as advised by my naturopath, I’ve been turning to all things hot. This week I have soaked at the Yamada Ryokan Onsen for a long dip in healing waters, put extra tabasco on my Tacos on Monday, had a good dose of wasabi on my tofu last night, been drinking hot yuzu tea, and spent a few hours sweating it out at Escal Plaza’s Spa. The Spa at Escal Plaza is nothing fancy but has all of the required basics for only ¥600. There is a large changing area with free lockers, showers, a large hot bath, a sauna, and a cold plunge pool for those who prefer to bathe the Scandanvian way (alternate between heat and cold). Their super convenient location on the first floor of Goryu Ski Resort’s main building, makes it possible to get warm and clean while waiting for your friends to finish up their day on the mountain.
Nagano prefecture is known for Shinsyu Soba. Shinshyu is the old name for what is now known as Nagano Prefecture and soba is a buckwheat noodle soup made with a simple soy based broth. You can find Soba restaurants all over Hakuba and the rest of the prefecture. Tonegawa Soba has got to be the best soba restaurant in the Hakuba village. As you can see it is set in beautiful old Minka (Japanese farm house) complete with irori (a sunken hearth used for cooking and eating), kotatsu (heated tables), and hand-made hanten (a quilted robe for guests to wear).
If you need rental gear, Hakuba has an ever-growing number of choices. However, for price, quality, and service most of our guests are satisfied with the options available at Spicy Rentals. They have everthing you need for dowhnhill and cross-country skiiing, and snowboarding. They carry large sizes, stuff for kids, helmets, powder boards, beginner and high-perfomance gear.
They open before first lift and are right across from Goryu’s main entrance so you won’t miss out on first tracks. We have posted a Spicy Rental’s pricing chart in the lodge plus our guests will receive an extra 20% off on all their gear. Click on the pic for more details.
Rental Gear at Lodge tabi-tabi:
At the lodge we also have a small selection of rental snowboards, boots, outerwear, gloves, and goggles, at well below the going rate. Sorry, our gear is available on a first come first serve basis and can not be reserved. Please let us know when you are checking in if you are interested in having a look at what is available.
Snowboard with bindings: ¥1000/day
Outer wear: ¥500/day