Feb 25, 2020
Enjoy the Best Food, Drinks and Onsen – Après-Ski (After Ski) in Hakuba
In our previous blog posts about Hakuba we’ve introduced you to the ski resorts and other snow activities, but after a long day in the snow, you might want to look for a warmer place where you can just relax.
A huge part of any winter vacation is the après-ski (literally “after ski”) part of the trip and we know that some find it even more exciting than the skiing itself. Compared to other popular winter destinations, Japan has a pretty unique après-ski culture. Rather than going to a bar, most Japanese prefer relaxing their bodies at an onsen (hot spring). While you’re here, we highly recommend you try it out yourself! But first, let’s introduce you to some places to eat and drink.
Restaurants and Bars in Hakuba
A day on the slopes will certainly make you hungry, but don’t worry – there is plenty of great food to be found in the Hakuba area, whether you’re in the mood for Japanese, Western or other types of dishes. Three of the most popular areas to find restaurants, bars and to also do some shopping are Echoland, Happo and Wadano. While these are all located relatively close to the Hakuba Happo Ski Resort, they are easily accessible from the other resorts as well. You can find a list of all Hakuba’s ski shuttle buses right here to see how to get there.
There is also an inexpensive night shuttle bus called Genki-Go that runs between the different areas in Hakuba from late December until early March. Click here for a map and timetable.
TIP! For any restaurant in the Hakuba area, it is highly recommended that you book a table in advance due to the busyness in wintertime. You could try calling yourself, as most of the restaurants have staff that speak English, but the easiest way to make a reservation is to let your accommodation call the establishment and make one for you.
Praised for its nightlife entertainment, Echoland has a large number of restaurants and bars, most of which you will find on its main street.
Sounds Like Café
If you’re in Echoland during the day and you’re looking for a place to grab lunch or just have a quick coffee, swing by the Sounds Like Café. They have a variety of sandwiches and a couple of tasty burgers that give you the energy to keep going for the rest of the day. Of course, for those with a sweet tooth, they also have some delicious desserts, such as an apple pie or a crème brûlée with a big scoop of ice cream on the side.
For dinner, you could try out some authentic Japanese bar-style food at Izakaya Hie. They’ve got edamame, fried chicken, tempura, sashimi, yakitori, wagyu steaks – all the things you would want to eat at an izakaya. Wash it all down with some flavorful Japanese sake, and you’ve got yourself a great night out. Be aware though that this place is very popular, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Still want to après-ski some more after visiting Hie? Well, you’re in luck, because right next to Hie, you will find Mocking Bird. This quirky bar is known for its characteristic and artsy interior, laidback atmosphere and friendly staff. Of course, there’s plenty of great food and drinks on offer as well (check out their cocktails!). As entertainment, they often hold their so-called “Mocking Parties” which feature live music by DJs. If you’re looking for a place to chill and make some friends along the way, we recommend you spend your evening at Mocking Bird.
Happo is the area most people first set foot in when coming to Hakuba as this is where the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal is located. It has many restaurants and is also popular for its onsen facilities.
Yamagami Shokudo NEO
Their specialty is gyoza, or fried dumplings, and we highly recommend you try it out. They’ve got a party size platter as well, which consists of 30 delicious dumplings, so if you’re with some friends, this is the best option for you. Besides their gyoza, they also offer a variety of other dishes such as noodles, curry and grilled meats.
Soba Shubo Zen
Like its name implies, Soba Shubo Zen is a Japanese restaurant that’s famous for its soba (buckwheat) noodles, which is the specialty dish of Nagano Prefecture. The restaurant is open for lunch as well as dinner and serves many traditional Japanese dishes which include fried tofu, tempura, baked squid and of course sashimi. While you’re here, don’t miss out on tasting some of the Japanese sake on their menu, as they have regional sake options from all over Japan.
Jack’s Sports Bar
Jack’s Sports Bar is one of the most popular bars in Hakuba. Being a sports bar, Jack’s has three large tv’s that screen sports events from all over the world. Proudly presenting you with tasty burgers and other bar food, a variety of drink options and great live entertainment every night of the week, you’ll definitely have a fun time if you decide to spend your evening here.
Wadano is the closest to a ski resort (Happo-One Ski Resort) and located in an idyllic forest area. It features some great and highly reviewed restaurants and bars from which we’ve selected a couple below.
This quaint little restaurant is found hidden away among the trees (and snow). Once inside, you’ll feel right at home thanks to the cozy atmosphere and the hospitality offered by the couple that runs the place. As you make yourself comfortable, feast on one of the many dishes on their menu, such as fried shrimp, teriyaki chicken or yakiniku beef.
Mimi’s Restaurant & Bar
Are you in the mood for a candle-lit dinner, with fantastic food using local produce and an extensive list of delicious wines? Then Mimi’s Restaurant & Bar in the Phoenix Hotel is the place to go. Highly praised by its guests, Mimi’s offers an exquisite dinner experience in a sophisticated setting. The European-style dishes made by married chefs Kazuyuki and Yuki Shimamoto are prepared with the best produce found in the Shinshu region using culinary techniques the couple has perfected up during their time studying in Japan and overseas.
For those wanting to experience the night life in Wadano, go check out The Pub located near Mominoki Hotel. As the name suggests, this is an English-style pub that has a nice vibe to it and offers a good variety of beers and other drinks. The food is typical pub-style food, ranging from burgers and pizza’s to nachos and wings, so if you want to try something different from the regular Japanese bar food, pay The Pub a visit.
Onsen (Hot Springs)
Once you’ve eaten your fill at any of the places above, it’s time to experience the ultimate relaxation by bathing in an onsen. Lots of hotels in Hakuba have their own hot spring facility, but if they don’t, or if you’re looking for a new onsen to enjoy, we’ve summed up a couple of onsen that you can check out.
Kurashita no Yu
Close to the Happo-One Ski Resort, you’ll find the onsen “Kurashita no Yu”. The natural spring water flows abundantly and each minute about 45 liters of water from the spring source is being added to the bath. While they do offer face towels for 200 JPY, they don’t have a body towel rental service, so don’t forget to bring your own if you go.
Business Hours: 10:00 ~ 22:00 (last entry: 21:30)
Entrance Fee: Adult 600 JPY, Child 300 JPY
Hakuba Happo Onsen
The Hakuba Happo Onsen consists of 4 hot springs baths and 4 smaller footbaths that are spread across the Happo area, with one of the (“Happo no Yu”) being located across the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. Loved by locals and tourists alike, we recommend you try out one of the Happo hot springs. All of them have the baths for men and women separated, but if you would like to have a private onsen experience, you can make a reservation at “Obinata no Yu” during the winter season. Towel rental service is available at all of them. Check below for more info.
1. Happo no Yu
Business Hours: 9:00 ~ 22:00 (last entry: 21:30)
Closed: until 12:00 on Wednesdays for maintenance purposes
Entrance Fee: Adult 800 JPY, Child 400 JPY
Indoor and outdoor onsen available
2. Mimizuku no Yu
Business Hours: 10:00 ~ 21:30 (last entry: 21:00)
Entrance Fee: Adult 650 JPY, Child 300 JPY
Indoor and outdoor onsen available
3. Sato no Yu
Business Hours: 12:00 ~ 21:00 (last entry: 20:30)
Entrance Fee: Adult 650 JPY, Child 300 JPY
*Indoor onsen available
4. Obinata no Yu
Business Hours: Open early March ~ early November from 9:00 ~ 18:00 (last entry: 17:30)
Entrance Fee: Adult 650 JPY, Child 300 JPY
Outdoor onsen available
For private onsen reservation at Obinata no Yu
Business Hours: Available from mid-December until the end of February. One hour slots available at 15:30, 17:30 and 19:30.
Reservation Fee: 20,000 JPY for 1-5 persons (Reservation Link)
*Reservations include a free shuttle bus pick up and drop off from any accommodation within Hakuba Village, as well as a body and face towel.
That’s it for our list! Hopefully you get a chance to try out any of the restaurants or onsen above. Of course, there are a lot more places within Hakuba waiting to be discovered, so whenever you’re done skiing or playing in the snow, head out into town and experience Japanese après-ski!
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. Besides the bus, you can also access Matsumoto by train (train timetable).
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.
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). To find out more about the Hakuba area, be sure to check out our Hakuba Tourism Guide!