David Reber's Japan Itinerary
- JAN. 21: Arrive at Tokyo's Narita Airport (NRT) @ 12.45pm
- If you need to get Japanese Yen, look for the 7-11 owned ATM machines. These are the ATM machines that most regularly accept foreign cards, and generally give the best exchange rate. You will need the equivalent of 100,000JPY in cash for the vehicle deposit (US$900 or 800 Euros).
- The camper van rental company will pick you up from the train station in the city of Narita. To get to the Narita Station from the NRT airport by train:
- From Narita Airport
Please get on any LOCAL train from Narita Airport which stops at NARITA station.
There are 2 railways companies : JR (Japan Railways) and Keisei.
Both trains pass through Narita city but not all of them stop there!
Please make sure you get on the right train.
The train ride takes approx. 10 min.
- Below are examples of trains you can take from Terminal 1. The same trains will start from Terminal 2 as well. There are lots of trains going to Narita Station all day from NRT.
- From Narita Airport
- If you arrive in JR Narita station please call Japan Campers for a free pickup from the outside of the JR station - East Exit.
- If your phone does not work, please use the Public Phone at the station. Or, call from NRT airport using the free wifi after you have collected your bags.
- If you arrive in Keisei Narita station please walk to the JR Narita station (about 100 meters away) and call for a free pick up from the outside of the JR Narita station - East Exit. (there is no parking area outside the Keisei Narita station).
- Arrive by 17:00 in order to pick up your van that day. The rental depot closes at 18:00
- please call Toshimi, Andre or Maciek for a pick up (I will let you know who will be on duty):
from Japan 080-5041-5243
from outside of Japan +81-80-5041-5243
Narita office (Van Depot):
from Japan 0476-85-4433
from outside Japan: +81-476-85-4433
- By taxi:
If you decide to get to the office directly from the airport by taxi, expect to pay approx. 3,000-4,000 JPY.
Please tell the driver this address:
** NARITA-SHI **
** NAMIKICHO 3-2 **
If they have problems to locate the address please ask the driver to call the camper van office for directions.
- JAN. 21 - FEB. 3: You have a BIG camper van booked for 14 days under the name David Reber.
- The company renting you the camper van is called Japan Campers.
- There is an Official Translation for your Swiss Driver's License waiting at the rental office. You may have to remind them that your translation is waiting for you. This costs 7,000 JPY and you can pay the staff in person.
- Your rental fee is paid, but you will need to give a cash deposit of 100,000 JPY or the equivalent in Euros (800 Euros) to rent the van. Please bring cash, as the rental company does not take a deposit with a credit card.
- Make sure the van has everything you need, and you can leave empty bags at the rental depot so you don't have to carry extra stuff in the van.
- Ask Andre, Maciek, or anyone at the rental depot any questions you have. They are all knowledgeable and helpful.
- FEB. 3: Return the camper van at the same place where you picked it up.
- If the iPad and van are undamaged, then you will receive your deposit back immediately.
- Expect to pay a fee for van and bedding cleaning (about $40). I don't know why they don't build this into the van rental price, but oh well.
- Ask an employee at the van rental depot to give you a ride to Narita Station. From Narita Station, you can catch a 10 minute train to Narita Airport (NRT).
- Fly home and tell all your friends how much powder you rode!
Ski area tips
- Hakuba: The largest ski town on Honshu and the skiing hub of the Nagano prefecture. There are 10 different ski areas in the Hakuba Valley and you can purchase a lift ticket that is good for all of them.
- The main ski areas are Happo-One and Hakuba Goryu-47 (Goryu and 47 are 2 connected ski areas). These are large and offer great backcountry terrain if you have the gear and then backcountry knowledge.
- Tsugaike and Iwatake are further up the valley and are also really fun and less crowded. Tsugaike has some great tree skiing and some of the longer sustained pitches in Japan.
- Hakuba Cortina is at the North end of the valley and for some reason it always gets a little more snow that the rest of the valley. If there is a storm, stay in the parking lot of the Hotel Green Plaza (pay to use their onsen because it is really nice), and you will be right at the bottom of Cortina for a pow day. *Hakuba Cortina is small and does get crowded on powder days tough*
- Myoko: Further west (and a bit north) from Hakuba, Myoko gets the storms first due to being closer to the Sea of Japan, and often has more annual snowfall as a result. Myoko is in the Niigata prefecture and can be compared to Hakuba 10 years ago. It is less busy and has a neat little village with restaurants and bars, and there are 6 nearby ski areas. Myoko also has amazing sidecountry and backcountry terrain. A camper van is ideal in Myoko because the different ski areas are not connected and getting around with a bus keeps most people on the 2 main ski areas right at the village (Akakura Onsen and Akakura Kanko). Try Seki Onsen or Suginohara for a more local feel.
- Madarao: In the Nagano Prefecture, Madarao doesn't have much of a town around the ski area, just a collection of hotels. Madarao is just begining to become discovered by westerners, but you can still find yourself alone on a powder day. You can also buy an upgraded lift ticket to include Tangram Ski Circus which is connected ski area. The town of Iiyama is down the hill and offers a normal Japanese town/city to explore (as well as some other nearby local ski areas).
- Nozawa Onsen: Just across the valley from Madarao is Nozawa Onsen. Nozawa is a really cool old-style town with a lot of hot springs and a large ski area. The town is compact, so it might be tough to park a camper van downtown there overnight, but you can easily drive the 20 mins back to Iiyama to camp or somewhere closer. Most public buildings allow overnight parking, but make sure first. Nozawa is worth the visit to hang out inthe village and then the ski area is a bonus.
- Naeba: Also in Niigata, but close to Gunma, Naeba is a strange place. It is a ski town from when Japan had a massive ski boom inthe '80s and now it is basically abandoned except for a large ski area, a giant and somehow still operating Prince Hotel, and the Dragondola - once the world's longest gondola.
- Minakami: Near Naeba, but in Gunma, is another nearly abandoned but beautiful onsen town on a river called Minakami. Stop by for some local character, onsens, and R/C car racing / arcade games. Then head to Mt. Tanigawa to ski. You won't see other tourists at the Tanigawadake Tenjindaira ski area. It is a small ski area, but has an impressive view of Mt. Tanigawa and a long run from top to bottom if there is good snow.
- There are hundreds of ski areas in the Nagano, Niigata, and Gunma prefectures. Use the website SnowJapan.com to see every ski area sorted by prefecture and the ski area stats. This is helpful if you want to find smaller undiscovered places.
If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance for this trip, have a look at the ski and snowboard specific plan from World Nomads, or click the link below.