Things To Do Around Hakuba
So much to do so little time! When your legs ache or you are waiting for the next powder dump to roll in there is no shortage of things to see and do outside the confines of the valley! We have compiled a few of the most popular attractions nearby. Most are year round and the Firefly Apartments in Hakuba is a fantastic base to see them all year round!
We are so lucky to have these world famous monkeys on our back doorstep. These are a personal favourite of ours and well worth a visit.
The monkeys are in an area called Jigokudani - translated as 'Hell's Valley' because of all the volcanic activity in the area including the Onsen hot spring that made these cute guys famous! There will be monkeys running around your feet and in and out of the onsen and provides great photo opportunities even with just a smartphone!
There are organised tours that depart daily during the ski season that usually also include a stop at Nagano's famous and beautiful Zenkoji Temple. It is also a very easy self drive to the monkey park from Hakuba taking about ninety minutes on good roads.
Wear sturdy shoes as there is a short walk on a trail that is icy/snowy/wet/muddy/dusty depending on the recent weather.
Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's ''Big 3'' original castles and is considered one of its most beautiful and complete castles. Matsumoto Castle has its origins that date back to the 1500's and gives an authentic experience very few can experience in Japan.
You can climb up to the 6th floor of the original turret for amazing views and there is also a museum on each floor. Throughout the year there are festivals here that include samurai battle reenactments, drum and musical performances and great food. The whole castle is surrounded by a moat and gardens which in cherry blossom season (mid Apr) is one of Japan's most beautiful and famous cherry blossom viewing spots. Makes a great day trip from Hakuba.
All trains from Hakuba will stop in Matsumoto. Matsumoto castle is just a 5min walk from Matsumoto Station. There are also organised tours departing from Hakuba.
Just outside Matsumoto there is also a famous Wasabi farm that has all things wasabi. If you like your wasabi maybe this is the place for you!
Toyama Ice Walls
Kurobe Alpine Route
How much snow did Hakuba receive this year? Take a trip to the Toyama Ice Walls to find the exact amount.
Every springtime an alpine road near Hakuba is cleared to gain access to a summertime mountain top hotel. The walls carved out of each side of the road dwarf a bus and make an incredible tourist attraction! You can walk down this road with snow walls often taller than 20m high on either side if you come when it opens in mid April.
If you come mid year there will still be snow up there.
It is not just the walls that are the attraction, the journey to get there is like the Amazing Race with so many modes of transport! It is a fun scenic journey!
You start off catching an electric bus through the mountain to the Kurobe dam (Japans Highest Dam - an attraction in itself) which has amazing valley views. After crossing the dam you travel by funicular through another mountain to connect with a cable car. At the top of the cable car there is a breathtaking viewing platform with a few cafes. It's a coffee or a beer with view that leaves you speechless! After taking in the sights you hop on a trolley that will climb you through yet another mountain. On the other side is the jaw dropping snow walls and yet another breathtaking view from 2500m up!
This Alpine route is even more popular in Autumn when all the mountains turn fire red when the leaves turn. One of Japan's must do's!
Nagano's Zenkoji temple is one of the most visited and most important temples in Japan. Zenkoji houses the first image of Budda ever brought to Japan in the 6th Century making it a very spiritual place. Walking to the temple is easy from Nagano Station and takes you along some old market streets selling crafts and food. The temple grounds itself are full of gardens, statues and shrines. The main hall is in the centre which was built in 1707 and houses a dark passageway which has a key attached to the wall that you must find and is known as the ''Key to Paradise''.
Around Nagano there are many buildings from when it hosted the Olymics in 1998. The most notable is called the M-Wave. It was where the speed skating events were held. Today it is a museum of those great couple of weeks and inside it is also a public ice skating rink if you feel like something different.
These volcanic hot spring baths are a huge part of Japanese culture and are very relaxing and soothing after a big day powder riding. There are a few rules to follow such as being in your birthday suit to keep the volcanic water pure but everyone just gets on with it. There are many onsens in the Hakuba valley all with different settings, mineral compositions and healing properties so let us know on check in and we can point you in the right direction!
Togakushi is a mountain temple not too far from the Hakuba Valley. It is famous for being a shrine to nature and has a very iconic trail lined with gigantic cedar trees. Conditions along the trail can be a bit variable depending on snowfall but you do not need to walk far from the carpark to get on the cedar lined trail and access the lower temple. Hiking to the upper temple is something best left until April when the snow starts to melt a bit.
Togakushi is also famous for it's Ninja heritage. There is a Ninja school called Togakure Ninpo and has many buildings visitors can visit including a museum and a Ninja House. The museum showcases many of the ninja techniques, tools, weapons, clothing and art and even includes a ninja star Shuriken throwing range. The Ninja House is particularly interesting with many trap doors and secret passages.
If the kiddies want to blow off some steam April to November the Kid's Ninja Village theme park will keep them entertained and exited for a few hours. Built in the forest it is full of obstacle courses, jungle gyms, secret passage buildings where your little ones can pretend to be a trainee ninja for the day! There are also some attractions to keep us big kids entertained too!
Nearby is the Togakushi ski resort. It does not receive the same snowfall as the Hakuba Valley but if you are feeling like some new terrain for all abilities it is worth a look!
Round 1 is an indoor amusement centre the likes of which you have never seen before!
Sometimes there is the rare day you don't feel like throwing the boots on or it is just too windy up the mountain or you just want to break up the riding then Round 1 is a place to check out. Eight floors of unimaginable entertainment, the likes you have never seen before! It has everything to keep kiddies and us big kids entertained for hours! Hoverboards, Bowling, Baseball Batting Cages, Trampolines, Segways, Bubble Suits, Tennis, Billiards, Arcade Machines of every description including an 8 player MarioKart machine, Karaoke, Golf Cages, Mini Golf Course, Rollerblading, Mechanical Bull Riding yeehaa! and it even has a Curling Rink! The little kiddies even have their own play zone too! All for one admission price!
Round 1 is in Nagano with an hourly free shuttle bus connecting to the station. If you have a set of wheels it has free parking too.
Across the street on the corner there is a space age sushi restaurant that is also well worth checking out!