Hakuba – Everything You Need To Know
Hakuba is one of the best ski areas in Japan, it is roughly 200 miles west from Tokyo and you can get there very quickly on the bullet train….more about that later. With 9 resorts, over 130 lifts and more than 200 runs, it is easy to see why this area is ever popular with domestic and foreign tourists. The Hakuba weather is one of the main reasons people flock here each year, on average there’s over 10 meters of snow every year and if that doesn’t get you powder heads excited I really don’t know what to say!
Here are some great tips to help you out on your next visit to Hakuba:
I mentioned the bullet train above, it is known locally as The Shinkansen, it is a fine example of how advanced Japanese design and technology is. The network of bullet trains form a high speed link between most of the major cities, they reach a top speed around 200 miles per hour. You can hop on the Shinkansen at Tokyo station and hop off when you reach Nagano city, from here you take a short bus ride to Hakuba. I highly recommend going by bullet train because it’s fun and something we should all experience.
People love going off piste or backcountry as some people call it. The ease of access to the backcountry skiing in the Hakuba Valley is one of the main things the area is famous. Don’t get ahead of yourself and think just because it is easy to reach you shouldn’t take the necessary precautions. I always tell people that they should hire a guide for a really great backcountry experience, an experienced guide who knows the best spots will make your day a million times better than if you headed out by yourself – it is also a lot safer! You can hire the gear you need to ski the backcountry area from plenty of shops in the area, so don’t worry about being underprepared because everything you need from a guide to gear can be arranged.
I knew nothing of Matsumoto Castle before I visited. To give you an idea of what it is like, well it looks just like you imagine a stunning Japanese castle would! It is seen as a National Treasure by the locals and they told me some great tales about the place. It is the oldest existing castle in the country and was constructed over 400 years ago. It is however haunted because a curse was put on the castle by Tada Kasuke – he was executed for leading an uprising but before he passed he cured the people who occupied the castle. A great idea for a day trip and you can get there using the train from Hakuba Station.