2020 Hakuba, JAPAN
- 7 NIGHT Group Trip Standard Lodging -
7-nights lodging in a double or triple occupancy room in Hakuba
Breakfast included each day
5-day Hakuba Valley lift tickets (valid at all 10 ski areas in the valley)
US$ 2,378 PER PERSON
Hakuba is the most popular ski town on the main island of Honshu. The town is in a valley surrounded by the large Japanese Alps and with 10 separate ski areas in the valley. Hakuba is the name of the local village where the train station is, as well as ho most people refer to the entire valley, but each ski area has a small base village with different names. Happo is the most popular village and is at the base of the largest ski area Happo-One. This was the site of the 1998 Olympic downhill course and you can still tour the ski jump that was built for the olympics.
Hakuba is in the Nagano Prefecture (state) and is about a 5.5 hour drive west of Tokyo. A bullet train from Tokyo Station to the city of Nagano takes around 100 minutes and then a bus from Nagano to Hakuba takes about 1 hour. Hakuba is a good blend of western amenities and ski area infrastructure and a town still home to longtime locals. One downside to Hakuba is that it can be inconvenient getting a large group to different ski areas in the valley because getting to each one requires a bus.
Day 1 - Arrive in Tokyo.
From NRT airport:
You must first take the Narita Express Train to Tokyo station. The train leaves from downstairs and costs US$29 per person (3,020 Yen). This train takes 53 minutes to get to Tokyo Station, and departs NRT roughly every 30 minutes.
You can buy tickets from JR (Japan Rail) Travel Service center that is in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2/3. And there are usually JR employees selling tickets at the train platform. Don't worry about being ripped off, the Japanese will never try to charge you more than the true cost.
At the JR Travel Service Center you can also purchase your ticket for the Shinkansen (bullet train) line from Tokyo to Nagano. If you want the first class cabin, then say you would like the Green Class or Gran Class ticket. Gran Class is first class and Green Class is business class.
Locations of the JR Travel Service Centers in the Narita airport are illustrated below.
IF YOU ARRIVE AT HANEDA AIRPORT (HND):
Fron the International Terminal, first take a monorail to HAMAMATSUCHO station, then change to a local train for Tokyo Station. These trains to Tokyo Station cost about $5.
From Tokyo Station, you want to transfer a Shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Nagano Station. Follow the signs in the station to the JR Shinkansen lines.
If you also purchased this ticket at the Narita or Haneda airport, then you will already know the train/track to look for and the time of departure.
If you did not purchase this ticket in the Narita airport, then you can buy this ticket in a JR ticket counter in Tokyo Station. Just say you want to go to Nagano and the JR employee will put you on the next available and fastest train.
There are trains leaving often throughout the day.
The exact track you are on will change depending on the exact Shinkansen train you are taking, but they will all be from the Shinkansen part of the JR Station.
FROM NAGANO TRAIN STATION:
A chartered bus will meet the group at the Nagano Train station and drive the group to Hakuba.
This bus takes 50 mins and will drive directly to your accommodations.
Day 1 - 8: Stay 7 nights in a SnowLocals recommended hotel in the Hakuba Valley and close to a ski area
The entire hotel would be rented out for this group and includes a dining room, kitchen and cook.
Breakfast are included in the cost.
Day 2 - 8: Ski any of the 10 ski areas in the Hakuba Valley. The Happo-One ski area is within walking distance from the Luna Hotel, and shuttles to the other areas leave from the Tokyu Hotel just down the street. The hotel has vans and can offer transportation help within the valley, but not for the entire group at one time.
5-day Hakuba Valley lift tickets are included and are valid at all 10 ski areas in the valley.
Things to do around Hakuba include:
Ski lots of powder
Visit the snow monkeys if there is a down-day
unlimited backcountry/touring options
restaurant choices representing a variety of foods, as well as a variety of Japanese foods.
Day 8: A private bus will bring the group back to the Nagano Train Station.
Once at the Nagano Station, go inside and ask at the ticket counter for tickets to get to Tokyo Station (or wherever it is that you want to go in Tokyo). You can also buy tickets using automatic ticket machines, but they are quite confusing. If you go to Tokyo Station, you will take one of a number of bullet trains (on the Shinkansen line) that will take between 88 and 105 minutes and cost about US$ 75 per person.
From Tokyo Station, transfer to a train to the correct airport for your departure flights.
Finally, have a safe flight back home and tell all your friends how much powder you skied!
Guided ski days / Snow Monkey day trip
You can hire off-piste or backcountry guides for one or more days.
I would recommend at least one day of guided skiing for some of the group. To change tings up and to see another part of the Hakuba Valley or unexplored zones from Happo-one.
A few private guides for your group would cost about US$ 175 per person (exact cost depends on number of people going and number of guides needed).
The Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is 1.5 hours from Hakuba and is where every photo you have seen of a snow monkey likely comes from. This can be made into a day tour with a stop at the Zenkoji temple in Nagano as well. A day tour like this would cost about $ 70 per person and include transportation and a guide.