Jan 14, 2020
Exciting Snow Activities and More! – Snow Fun in Hakuba
The winter season is in full swing!
Many people visit Japan during the wintertime for its awesome powder snow and accessible ski resorts. One of the most popular ski resorts lies in Hakuba, which is about an hour away from Nagano City. If you’ve read our previous blog, you would know why Hakuba is such a great winter destination and why people love going there so much. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to check it out.
Do you like the snow and the mountains, but you want to take a break from skiing, or you don’t really like skiing at all? Not to worry, as there are dozens of other snow-related activities available in Hakuba Valley for people of all ages, so both adults and children can enjoy a day out in the snow. Ever wanted to slide down the mountain on a tube or ride a snow mobile? You can!
We’ve listed some of the most popular and exciting winter activities for you to try out in Hakuba below.
As one of the most popular winter activities, snowshoeing can be done in multiple areas throughout Hakuba Valley, such as in Tsugaike Kogen. Just put on some big snowshoes, practice walking around in them a little, and then you’re ready to start your journey. Snowshoeing is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful winter landscape as you wander through the snow. The best thing about snowshoeing is that pretty much anyone can do it, from children to adults, so if you want to explore the snowy fields of Hakuba in a leisurely way, this is the perfect activity.
As mentioned in our previous blog, the 2019/2020 season marks the arrival of a new snow activity in Kashimayari Snow Resort: snow tubing. Lie down on an inflatable tube and rush down the snowy slope on a 500m-long course, which is actually the longest snow tubing course in Japan (!). The activity can be enjoyed by children and adults alike and is available from around mid-January until early March. The information currently on Kashimayari’s website is only available in Japanese, but you can click here for the Google translated webpage.
You can also find snow tubing areas in many kids’ parks around Hakuba Valley, so be sure to check out the facilities at the ski resort you intend to visit beforehand.
River rafting is a popular summer activity, but have you ever heard of snow rafting? It’s similar in the way that you are seated in an inflatable rubber boat, but instead of a river of water, you’ll be pulled along a “river of snow” by a snow mobile. A maximum of 4 people can fit in one boat so you can enjoy this activity with your family as well. Available on the weekends and holidays from early January until the end of March, this exciting ride through the snowy landscape is great for those looking for a fun but thrilling activity.
Want to ride a snow mobile yourself? That’s also possible! Get a feeling of freedom as you drive your own mobile across the snow for an hour. Of course, you’ll be guided along the way and taught how to handle a snow mobile correctly before being let on the course through the hills of the Japan Alps. The activity is available in both morning and afternoon at set times from December throughout March.
If you prefer something less motorized, you might like snow scooting more. As the name suggests, you will ride down the mountain on a special snow scooter. Handling the scooter may be a little tricky as it requires the right balance, but for those who are already used to skiing or snowboarding, you’ll probably get the hang of it quickly. You can rent snow scooters at various rental shops throughout Hakuba Valley.
For the Little Ones
Travelling with smaller children and looking for some safe and fun activities to do? Hakuba Valley features many snow parks inside the ski resorts that are especially made for children. For example, in Happo-One Snow Resort, there is the Usagidaira Kids Park where kids can try riding a snow scooter or a fat bike, and for the smaller ones there is a separate area where you can just play with the snow and built a snowman together. Another well-known kids’ park is Kids Wonderland in ABLE Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort. Besides an outdoor area where kids can sleigh or tube down the snow, there is also a large indoor area that has its own play area called Wood Land. There’s also a cafeteria inside with large windows, so you can watch your kids play as you sip your warm drink.
Hakuba Tsugaike SNOW WOW!
If you’re looking for the perfect place that can offer loads of activities, then we recommend you visit Hakuba Tsugaike SNOW WOW!. It caters to all ages, so there’s something for everybody to enjoy. Smaller kids can enjoy Amidas, a climbable 3-layered structure made out of nets where kids can release their inner snow monkey and have the time of their lives, while somewhat bigger children and adults might prefer taking on paraglider towing, which is different from normal paragliding in that you put on skis and that, while skiing, you’ll be pulled up into the air by a towing machine. Besides these activities, you can also find snow tubing, snow biking and snow skating (no, not ice skating!) here amongst others. After trying out some of the activities, you can warm yourself in the “open-fire lounge” and have some tasty food from the barbeque.
Video credit: アウトドア撮影隊 GOAT Youtube channel
Hakuba Tsugaike SNOW WOW! Opening Hours:
21 December 2019 ~ 31 March 2020 10:00 ~ 15:00
As you can read, there’s plenty for you to enjoy besides skiing and snowboarding, so certainly check out the other winter activities while you’re in Hakuba!
There are several means of transportation you can take to get here, such as the train, bus and taxi. Depending on various factors such as the amount of people in your party, the amount of luggage and your budget, you might prefer to take a direct taxi to Hakuba (available from any of the places listed below, for other places please inquire). For taxi reservations and inquiries, please click here.
Narita & Haneda Airport
Nothing beats direct transport between the airport you arrive at and your desired destination. Especially if you’re carrying a lot of luggage or large ski equipment. During the winter season, ALPICO operates special Hakuba-bound buses from both Narita and Haneda Airport. The bus features wide 3-row high-quality sofa seats that help you relax during your journey and also has free Wi-Fi so you’ll stay connected. Easy, affordable and hassle-free – the best way to get to Hakuba.
If you’re coming from the Tokyo area, there is a direct bus you can take from Shinjuku Station. You can also take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano. However, while the trip is a bit faster, you will have to transfer at Nagano Station to get to Hakuba.
Shinjuku – Hakuba
Osaka & Kyoto
In case you’re flying in from Kansai Airport, you can take the direct bus from either Osaka or Kyoto. As the Kansai area is quite a bit away from Hakuba, the bus travels at night, which means that you won’t lose a day travelling. During the trip you can get some sleep and when you wake up you can enjoy Hakuba to your heart’s content.
Osaka & Kyoto – Hakuba
Already in the Nagano area? It only takes about an hour to get from Nagano Station to Hakuba. There are two types of buses running from Nagano Station to Hakuba Station during the winter season. One bus requires reservations while the other is non-reserved. You can book a seat for the reserved buses online, while the non-reserved bus tickets can be bought at the Shinanoki Souvenir Shop (at the East Exit of Nagano station) on the day itself.
Nagano – Hakuba
During wintertime, there is a direct bus between Matsumoto and Hakuba going once a day. Whether you’re coming from Matsumoto or you’re visiting on a day trip, this direct bus getting there a lot easier.
Matsumoto – Hakuba
More to Discover in Hakuba
There are so many things to do in Hakuba that we couldn’t possible fit everything in one post, so we’ve decided to divide it into several parts. If you’re interested, please click any of the links below to discover what other wonderful things you can do in Hakuba.
As you can read, there’s a lot more to come, so stay tuned!
PART 1 – An Introduction to Hakuba Valley
PART 3 – Food, Drinks and Onsen (coming soon)
PART 4 – Side Trips from Hakuba (coming soon)
Hakuba is wonderful in the other 3 seasons as well due to its luscious nature, great hiking spots and many adventurous activities. Last autumn we went hiking in Hakuba’s Tsugaike Nature Park and the mountains were painted in the most beautiful fall colors (our blog). The aforementioned Hakuba Tsugaike SNOW WOW! is also opened during the other seasons (then just called Hakuba Tsugaike WOW!) offering many fun and adventure-filled activities.
To find out more about the Hakuba area, be sure to check out our Hakuba Tourism Guide!