An Epic Journey to Hakuba, Nagano

I want to share my trip from Osaka to Hakuba, Nagano,  a high land with full of snow while some cities like Osaka still has no snow in the beginning of winter season.  I’ve been to Japan in December 2016 and spent new year there. It has been my dream to see snow in Japan. I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself. After 4 months of planning (and saving haha), it was time to play snow!

I left the apartment at 11.30 am. I supposed to go in the morning but there was a problem. I took JR train from Osaka to Nagano. Such a long way because I used Seishun Kippu. By using Seishun Kippu,  you can cut your transportation budget, but be ready to enjoy a long journey and couple times of changing train because it just can be used for local or rapid train. You can also check about Seishun Kippu and other transportation thingy on my story before.

I spent 10,5 hours on the train. I supposed to spent 9 hours, but I took wrong train. I was confused about rapid train and local. As the schedule, I suggested to take rapid train. But, the local train came first. I took local because I thought it would be faster than rapid. But, I was wrong. Rapid is faster than local no matter local train came first.

When you want to take a long journey and especially you are alone, prepare yourself by read train schedule carefully. I always checked the schedule in www.hyperdia.com before I took train everywhere in Japan. And remember to follow the schedule.

I remember some station where I have to change train, like Kyoto, Maibara, Nagoya, Ogaki, Nakatsugawa, and of course Matsumoto! Many times to changing train, yeaaa.

One of the station I passed on my way to Nagano

So I arrived in Nagano at 10.30pm! A long journey but I finally made it. I met my friend, Lucky and Becca, in Nagano Station. We took a walk to find our homestay. It was very cold outside OMG. It was minus 6… Yeah Nagano is colder than Osaka and Tokyo also. I saw snow on the street there.

If you want to cut your budget, please note to rent the cheapest homestay or guest house in Nagano. There are some hotel or homestay in Hakuba. But, it’s expensive. Even homestay in Nagano is more expensive than Osaka. You can search on booking.com or airbnb.com to book cheap homestay. I booked my homestay from booking.com.

Okay back to the story.  After 10 minutes walking in a crappy night winter, we arrived at the homestay, Aun Guest House. It was a little room with 4 bunk bed, included the small kitchen inside. It was the cheapest homestay in Nagano. The host named Ikeda cannot speak English, but he was nice and helpful. Ah ya, in our homestay we had a new friend. A solo traveler from Australia named Tyson. He wanted to go to Hakuba tomorrow like us.

The next day, we were ready to go to Hakuba by JR train, covered with Seishun Kippu. It took longer than bus. If you want to save your time I suggest you to take a bus, not train. After spent almost two and a half hours in train, finally we were in Hakuba! I saw lots of snow there! So excited!

Located in the Japanese alps,  northwest of Nagano, you will find the beautiful village of Hakuba. Hakuba Valley is known to be one of the best winter sports locations with 11 ski resorts offering various terrains from beginner to expert level. I didn’t want to skiing because I have no experience at all. I didn’t want to practice for beginner too because we have to rent the gear for skiing and  it’s expensive for my budget. We just wanted to see snow and enjoy to play with it.

The street is full of snow

 

 

IMG-20170111-WA0067
A snowman

There are some ski resort in Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort, the largest resorts in Japan, and the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics was our choice. From Hakuba Station we took a shuttle bus to Hakuba Information Center. The fare was 300 yen.

It was snowy day until we realized how hungry we had all become… Oooh we want to eat. It almost 12 pm, time for lunch.

From Hakuba Information Center we walked somewhere we didn’t know, just follow the sign which direct us to reach Happo One. We hoped there was some restaurant, but it was rare to find the restaurant there. We saw the one and only Japanese restaurant but we didn’t want to eat there until we found unexpected food truck after walk 10 minutes. And… the owner is Indonesian! We were amazed how could indonesian food truck exist in the snowy place like Hakuba. Wow!

At Happo-one ski resort (白馬八方尾根スキー場)

Eko’s Kitchen save our tummy. We ordered satay and nasi goreng. Believe me if you eat nasi goreng and satay here the taste is more delicious even it’s “not-really-the-best-Indonesian-food”. I think it’s because the sensation, eating Indonesian food so far from Indonesia in a snowy day.

The owner of Eko’s Kitchen, Pak Budi, was very nice guy. His hometown is in Bali. We talked a lot with him. He told us about his life in Japan and how he can he manage the food truck in Hakuba. Such an interesting story.

We continued to go to Happo One after lunch. Just 5 minutes walk from Eko’s Kitchen. Based on the information from the website, we have to pay 4200 JPY for a half day to enter Happo One. It’s expensive., but we are wrong. We didn’t have to pay 4200 JPY. We only pay 1000 JPY something because we are non-skier. With that ticket, we can go to the up hill with gondola and see the beautiful mountain panorama.

happo one

Happo One is a huge mountain, with several different peaks, many wide open and steep slopes, and a lot of vertical gain. It have been a ton of fun to take gondola. Saw the scenery from the up hill.

At Happo-one ski resort (白馬八方尾根スキー場)(1)

And… Here we go! We’re on the peak and having fun with snow.

Happo one ski resort

Actually was very cold outside. I just can stand for 10 minutes outside, the go back inside to warm my body. I couldn’t imagine how about Hokkaido. The winter there would be crappier.

   hakuba ski resort

We did so much fun in a whole day. We went to our homestay when the sun went down. The snow was getting worse in Hakuba. The temperature was down to minus 8… Colder… and colder…

I returned to Osaka with Becca and Lucky on the next day. It was pretty epic journey! The moment and every inches of experiences we had in Hakuba are unforgettable. In winter season if you stay in Osaka, Hakuba is worth to visit.

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