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