Winter, in Japan with a car,trip report

winter

One of Us
May 6, 2010
511
438
163
southern highlands, nsw
We left Sydney on 13th January on the overnight flight with ANA. Only hiccup was our snowboard bag and its weight. We had a lengthy call prior to departure and were told it could weigh up to 45kgs, which is true though you have to pay excess over 23kgs. We had a quick shuffle of the extra 5kgs at the airport and away we went. The service and food was good and a very fast clearance at haneda, loving the new photo system.
We booked our car through ToCoo though it was Nippon car (only 24 hour car service) handy info for anyone booking a car on an early flight as most car rental companies start at 8am. We were picked up from the airport to travel 10mins to the car hire collection place. We had a package with pocket wifi and etc card that needed to be picked up from a local post office. It could have been a slight setback though at 630am (due to open at 9am) I walked into the post office just by chance and a very kind man looked for my parcel for 30mins. So incredibly grateful for his help. Navigating out of Tokyo early on a Saturday morning was a breeze, it started snowing about 60 kms from Nagano, quite heavy though everyone was driving safely. I am still I'm unsure about the speed signs in Japan as everyone drives way over the 80km speed limit.
Stopped at Nagano for the supermarket and shoe shopping as our 12 year old is always needing shoes with 9.5 shoe size!
Arrived in Wadano, Hakuba in very heavy snow. We skiied/rode Happo for 3 days as it was as good as it gets and I personally did not feel safe to be a passenger,digging out the car etc etc. On Monday 16th I had the best day of my life riding, the experience was so well timed on the runs we had, I cried with happiness and yelled woohoo, segoi desu ne (amazing isn't it) so many times I nearly lost my voice. Once I had had that experience on day 2 of our trip I wondered how I would get that feeling back again. The storm continued to deliver, not quite as much though still delivered. We had a slightly clear day when we travelled to Hakuba 57/ Goryu and I really love the steep runs and view from that aspect of the alps.
The following day we skied/rode Tsugaike. The top half of the mountain is fantastic, the bottom half is flat and good if you are travelling with small children. From the mid station Gondola up it is big enough that you don't notice the flat and plenty of terrain, untouched at 330 in the afternoon.
Following this day the +1 ended up with a pretty nasty ear infection and as I did not to drive by myself, my 12 D and I enjoyed skyline at Happo once again whilst he dealt with the magnificent Japanese hospital system. Once he received the treatment he was back out and we explored Iwatake and Cortina. We all enjoyed Iwatake, this mountain had so much fresh snow, you had to unstrap and walk a little though it was worth it. I chose to pull out at Cortina after 11 days of straight riding and had a 2.5 hour luxurious onsen in the magical hotel. My +1 and 12 D had 2 hours of bliss. Cortina does not have to after a powder day, 2 days later after the storm at 2pm they were finding clean lines.
We would have had at least 2 metres in 2 days.
For the onsen lovers there is a fabulous onsen turning left from the heated road in Wadano about 5 mins up the hill from where the back country skiers come back.
Food: Izakaya Hie remains a favourite as does a hand made soba restaurant on the way to Nagano.
I am thankful to my +1 for doing all the driving, next year I would feel more confident in an AWD plus snow tyres. The Mazda premacy was great for a family of 4, with gear though with so much snow during a trip, AWD is a must for my own feeling of safety.
Thanks Japan, 2017, you delivered and I am one happy traveller. Not such a short trip report though now I have my own diary reference.
 

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Crispy013

One of Us
Jun 6, 2010
2,005
2,772
363
Port Macquarie, NSW
Nice TR. Good timing coming to Hakuba just as the massive week long storm hit. A couple of days earlier was very dire conditions. I loved Hie too - very thankful our lodge owner spoke Japanese and was able to get us a reservation. A lot of westerners just rocking up and getting pissed at the staff because them and their darling 4 children couldn't get dinner there and then.
 

winter

One of Us
May 6, 2010
511
438
163
southern highlands, nsw
Nice TR. Good timing coming to Hakuba just as the massive week long storm hit. A couple of days earlier was very dire conditions. I loved Hie too - very thankful our lodge owner spoke Japanese and was able to get us a reservation. A lot of westerners just rocking up and getting pissed at the staff because them and their darling 4 children couldn't get dinner there and then.
No point going anywhere in Hakuba without a booking IMO. We also saw a lot of people turned away from HIE the evening we went. This year we could only get the bar spot, actually perfect as we ate a lot more sashimi than we would have in a booth. Best fatty tuna ever!!
 
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