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Trip Report 2018 Hakuba Japan trip report (Spring Season)

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Sage Oya, Apr 18, 2018.

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  1. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well we've just come back from our latest trip to Hakuba and already the daily routine of office life is already becoming tiresome. At least its only about 50 days till the home season kicks off!

    My girlfriend and I visit Hakuba for during the 2016/17 season and liked it so much we thought we'd do our annual trip there again this year. As fortune would have it, our good friends who live there permanently had announced their engagement on our last visit and set the 2nd of April 2018 as the date for their big day. They'd chosen April on the basis that they wanted a snow wedding but also wanted to capitalise on the warmer weather. We decided that rather than making two trips to Japan, that we'd just fly over once and stay from the 28th of February until the 4th of April.

    Flying in to Narita, we took the Shinkansen up to Nagano and then the Alpico bus through to Hakuba which, like last year, wasn't too painful even though we had a snowboard and a set of skis each. We timed our travel outside of peak hour which definitely helped as we didn't have to contend with our luggage and the rush hour crowds at Tokyo station. We considered using the black cat service but decided we'd just muscle our gear personally. In hindsight it might have been better to courier it but i wanted to make sure my gear was ready to go as soon as we arrived in Hakuba.

    Given that we arrived in Hakuba on the 1st of March we opted for the Happo-one spring season pass which came in at 36,000 yen each. On top of that we then used the mountain collective 'associate' deal to each buy a 5 day Hakuba valley pass to use at the other resorts at half price. One thing we found out was that if you plan to use the mountain collective deal you only get one opportunity to use it in Hakuba valley so you need to buy a 5 day pass straight up rather than trying to buy 5 one day passes.

    We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at our friends house which is adjacent to the Iwatake gondola for two week. After that we had to vacate as the bride to be's mother arrived- I guess that was fair. After moving on from our friends house we stayed at the Phat House in Hakuba for 8 nights which was really good. We thought their pricing was very reasonable for Hakuba and their shuttle service to and from the mountains was excellent for when we didn't have access to our friends car. They were able to take us to Tsugaike, Happo-one and 47 which we appreciated given the town shuttle service winds down in spring.

    From the Phat House we then moved across to Hotel Villa (one of the hotels our friends run) in Wadano where all of the guess attending the wedding stayed. Enjoyed ski in ski out access to the Sakka lifts at Happo-one and many a cheeky beer and burger at the Rabbit Hole, very much recommended if you're in the area.

    Right, on to the skiing. We managed a total of 30 days on the mountain which was a pretty good effort given we were in japan for a total of 34 days. The weather was typically spring and slushy with 24 of our days being blue birds or slightly overcast, 3 snowing and 1 rain. Importantly, the weather on the wedding day was a blue bird, albeit slightly windy during the ceremony. We mostly skied Happo-one but also visited Tsugaike Kogen quite a few time. We also did Goryu, 47, Iwatake, Norikura, and Cortina.

    Given we were in spring we didn't visit Cortina or Itwatake too much as the whilst the snow cover was decent, they weren't best the valley had on offer. The favourite would probably have to have been Tsugaike as we like the variable terrain, side hits and trees available without fear of our passes being pulled.

    Highlights
    - The wedding
    - Having a car which made skiing different resort much easier given the reduced bus service
    - Daily breakfast Nikuman from Lawsons (literally the busiest Lawson in the whole of Japan)
    - Gondola bevies
    - Ski shots
    - Tsugaike Kogen
    - Not being at the office for 5 weeks

    Anwho, here are some pics and vids:
    If you want to see more you can check out our instagram @outdoorenthusiastsaustralia

    Prepping the car for our first day on the mountain
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    Half way up Happo-one
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    Top of Happo-one
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    Daily breakfast gondola bevies
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    Out the back of Happo-one
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    One of many marshmallow enjoyed at the Corona Terrace
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    Building a kicker out the back of out friends' house:
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    Sending it once built
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    Backyard tobogan sesh


    Taking Gus out for a stroll and enjoying the scenery around Iwatake
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    On the Panorama course at Happo
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    Pow day on the lift up
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    Outside Usagidaira at Happo-one
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    Enjoying a stroll around town
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    Top of Tsugaike
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    Mid station at Tsugaike on the snowscoot - rode it from the top, wasn't easy
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    Found Totoro near the ski patrol cabin at Tsugaike
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    Pow day at Tsugaike
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    Tsugaike on a pow day


    Marcelle being snowvouge at Tsugaike
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    Hotel Villa/The Rabbit Hole (our friends hotel) - Highly recommend
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    Out at Cortina
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    Playing in the scrub at Cortina


    Pondskiming at Roots Cafe Happo-one - saved my beer from going in the drink
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    Wedding ceremony down by the river
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    Bridal party at the top of Happo-one
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    Last day on the mountain, snow down low all but gone- 03/04/18 at Happo-one
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    #1 Sage Oya, Apr 18, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
    Hyst, shepski, Telemark Phat and 4 others like this.
  2. Crispy013

    Crispy013 One of Us

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    Wow, 3 days of snow in 30, that shows how average March was for Japan. Still looks like you had fun though! Thanks for the TR.
     
  3. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, a few more snow days would have been nice. Still, we were stoked just being there :D
     
  4. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Actually, March was NOT typical for Japan and for Hakuba.
    Tokyo had the warmest March on record, and the second highest rainfall total. It was around 3-4 degrees above average.
    I would normally expect around 10-12 days of snow in March for Hakuba.
     
  5. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Apologies, I didn’t mean typical for Japan in March, rather spring skiing in general. It was definitely warm!
     
  6. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great TR :) Bummer about the abnormal snow conditions but awesome you guys had some many blue bird days. Seeing the Saka area so brown in that photo was pretty alarming.
    Awesome idea by your friends to have a Japan snow destination wedding, love it! That shot of the bridal party up the top of the lifts is incredible.
     
    Sage Oya likes this.
  7. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, it was super sad to see it melt off so quickly. By the time we were leaving they had closed off the entire lower half of Happo bar the run that brings you down to the bottom of the gondola. At least it looks like they've had some cooler weather the past week.
     
  8. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    Nice report and Im pretty sure we met at the wedding :)

    Great to read your honsety about knowing the people where you stayed. On many occasion I read reviews etc ramping up a place without acknowledging that fact. :)
     
    Sage Oya likes this.