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elcome to the winter of 2016-2017 here in the Hakuba Valley. And what kind of winter can we expect after last year’s lean season, one of the leanest in living memory. While compiling this year’s Hakuba Connect, I had many opportunities to talk to a lot of locals, those who have been here only a few years to those who have lived all their lives here in the valley. I asked the same question to everyone, “Do you think we will have a bumper snow year this season?” To my surprise I came across some unique answers. Some of my favorites were; “There have been a lot bees this summer, more so than usual, this means the bees are busier and preparing for a long snowy winter ahead.” “I am nearly 80 years old and we have never had two very poor seasons in a row, usually a poor season is followed by an almighty one.” “The praying mantises have built their nests much higher in the trees this year. This is to keep them above the more than usual snowfall they are predicting!” For this season we welcome El Nino’s younger sister, La Nina. La Nina years are usually credited with more than normal precipitation, turn this precipitation into snowfall then the above quotes might just be true and we might have the bumper powder year. Whatever happens in terms of the weather, we are sure that everyone visiting the Hakuba Valley will enjoy the hospitality of our Japanese hosts. We also hope that you take advantage of all there is to do here, both on and off the snow. See you on the slopes SW
Publisher Snow Connections Editor Steve Williams Contributors Stewart Adamson James Robb Photgraphers Patrick Fux Advertising Sales Mikiyo Williams Design Michael Grove Mao Hashiba
On the Cover: Enjoying the powder at Hakuba Iwatake Snowfield.
SNOW CONNECTIONS www.hakubaconnect.com
DECEMBER 23-24 DECEMBER XMAS @ HAKUBA GORYU Find Santa and enjoy chocolate fondue at Hakuba Christmasa night at Hakuba Goryu.
31 DECEMBER NEW YEAR COUNTDOWN Celebrate inside or outside at Happo and Goryu. Sake and fireworks! Welcome 2017!!
28 JANUARY Kashimayari Fireworks
17,24,31 JANUARY 7,14,21 FEBRUARY Goryu Night One of the best nights in Hakuba, with taiko drums, sake tasting and a huge Japanese buffet.
13-18 JANUARY Freeride Hakuba The best freeriders in the world will descend the back of Happo-one.
21-29 JANUARY Snowcat Night Cruise @ Iwatake New this year, enjoy a night ride on a snow cat!
Participate in the annual Kashimayari firework event. Take the Genki-Go Bus.
FEBRUARY 4,11,18,25 FEBRUARY Omachi Snow Festival
4 FEBRUARY Iwatake Thanks
Japanese taiko drummers, raffles and rice pounding.
2-3 MARCH Riesen Slalom
10 FEBRUARY Happo Fire Festival
71st annual downhill race on Happo-one.
Happo-one Nakiyama slopes is the place to be for an evening of fun.
11 MARCH Goryu Snow Festival
Take the Genki-go bus to Omachi every Saturday in February for taiko drums, fireworks and igloos. Great reports from last year!
4-11 FEBRUARY Yuki-koi Festival
25 FEBRUARY Tsugaike Kogen Festival
We Love Snow Festival. A week long of festivals in the resort.
Happy Valentine Night Chocolate fondue and fireworks at Hakuba Goryu from 6pm.
Snow and Ultra Thanksgiving festival at Tsugaike Kogen.
Fireworks, Japanese drums, torch lit skiing. A great event.
19-26 MARCH IVSI A meeting of snow instructors from around the world
25 MARCH Splash Jam Hakubaâ€™s very own slush pit challenge.
Even though the slopes stay open until early May, as spring takes the edge of the winter chill and the warm weather starts melting the snow on the lower slopes it is time to celebrate. An end of season tradition at Evergreen is the Splash Jam, a mix of skiing & snowboarding followed by water skiing over a cold water pool in fancy dress. A few make it across but many donâ€™t! Location Kokusai Lodge on Happo-one. March 25th
Japanese love their fire festivals with events scheduled around the year throughout the country. Here in the Hakuba Valley the events are held in the colder winter months. Lucky for us! A word of warning though, it does get cold, so wrap up warm with that extra layer. Happo-one Fire Festival Feb 10th Located at the Nakiyama base area, things get underway at 7pm with torch lit skiers lighting the fire. Expect food stalls, local characters, sake culminating in fireworks at 9pm. This year the Happo-one Fire Festival will be held on a Friday night instead of its usual Saturday.
Snow and Ultra Thanksgiving festival at Tsugaike Kogen Feb 25th The biggest event in HAKUBAVALLEY, with brilliant fireworks and a torchlit parade down the slopes. Hakuba Goryu Snow Festival March 11 Drumming and lots of pyrotechnics on the slopes. Look out for the Goryu Dragon! Night time shuttle buses are laid on. Kashimayari Fire Festival in Kashimayari Sports Village Jan 28th The feature of this event is skiers with torches skiing down the hill as well as a fireworks display
hat would you say if your new Hakuba Valley pass would allow you access to 110 lifts, 133km of trails over 139 courses as well as an average of 12 meters snowfall without ever having to stand in line to buy lift tickets? You would think Hakuba Valleyâ€™s marketing team finally spun things a tad too far, right? Not at all, this season everyone is spinning with excitement about the new Hakuba Valley Pass. The group of 10 independent ski resorts stretching from Hakuba Cortina in the north to Jigatake in the south
will from this season all be covered under one pass. This collaboration will see the introduction of a new access and revenue management system. After installing the new automatic gates, guests who purchase the Hakuba Valley ticket will now directly access the lifts without having to visit the ticket counter when switching between snow resorts. Until now, there was no common infrastructure among the 10 ski resorts and 15 cableways companies. The joint venture is a strengthening of ties and is sure to bring a positive impact in the region.
In order to achieve the best user experience, Hakuba Valley is proud to announce that SKIDATA, the world leader in ticketing and access management for amusement facilities has joined hands to provide the snow resort area with innovative and technological solutions. Mr. Bjarne Eckardt, Representative Director of SKIDATA Japan says, that â€œWe are very honored to be part of such an exciting project. We are happy to support Hakuba Valley to become the largest ski resort in Japan by providing the best solution for ski resort access.â€? The commencement of the new management access system will offer
This credit card sized smart card offers hands-free access to the electronic gate system. Load your Hakuba Valley Card at your convenience online to avoid lift ticket window lines and enjoy great savings. Save your eco-friendly card and reload for future visits. First time users need to buy the card at a ticket sales outlet when buying for the first time, after that the pass can be charged online. The pass can be used as a multi-day resort of just at one specific resort. At the time of going to press, you can only buy specific day resorts online for Happo-one, Iwatake Snowfield & Tsugaike Kogen. You need to exchange the pass for a paper ticket at Sanosaka, Kashimayari & Jiigatake. 200yen discount for purchasing online! www.hakubavalley.com
Avoid the queues - buy your Hakuba Valley ski passes online significant improvements and a range of possibilities for further advancement of products and services. Better service quality and product value will appeal to all skiers and snowboarders visiting the region. A â€œweb shopâ€? for business and guests will be established. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket counters of the participating ski resorts and easily over the internet, and through participating accommodations and rental outlets etc. Conveniently, tickets can also be recharged after expired usage in all participating businesses thus offering a better experience for Japanese and International guests.
FREERIDE WORLD TOUR ARRIVES IN HAKUBA
Riding in Japan takes another big step forward this winter as Hakuba hosts a qualifier on the Freeride World Tour, becoming the first Asian resort to host an international freeride event. The Freeride World Tour is a series of events where skiers and snowboarders are given a steep mountain face to ride away from the lift-served area, and are allowed to choose their own route (or “line”) down the mountain. In keeping with the “freeride” moniker, there are no marked courses. Rather than competing on time, riders are encouraged to choose an original way of using cliffs, drops, and lips in the terrain to incorporate jumps and tricks into their run. Riders are judged on their creativity in using the mountain to demonstrate their skills. A list of other ski areas to host qualifiers and main events on the tour would be a veritable who’s who of world-class backcountry areas, including Chamonix, Verbier, Whistler-Blackcomb, and Haines in Alaska. Events are broadcast live via the web and social media, and their popularity reflects a switch in viewer interest from traditional speed-based competitive skiing toward extreme sports.
The Hakuba events in 2017 begin with a two-star qualifier on January 11th for both national and international riders, which as of November 2016 is already full. Winners and qualifying international riders will then compete in the four-star qualifier to take place between January 13th and 17th. This high-ranking competition allows riders to accumulate points for the prestigious main tour. An estimated 80 skiers and snowboarders are expected to attend. The four-star qualifier will take place in the alpine area immediately above Happo-One Ski Resort. The tour aims to use terrain with an average pitch of forty degrees and a four-hundred meter vertical drop, available within one hour’s hiking of a lift-served area. There are separate categories for men and women, and for skiing and snowboarding. When announcing the Hakuba events, Freeride World Tour CEO Nicolas Hale-Woods said, “Partnering with Hakuba, Japan is one of the most important milestones in Freeride World Tour history. Hakuba proposes an incredible playful terrain with fantastic snow conditions, over a century of winter-sports culture, and a unique, very fine hospitality. Freeride Hakuba 4* 2017, the first-ever freeride competition in Asia, is a first step in freeride development in Japan, and I am convinced many more to follow.” Hakuba’s tourism director Yojiro Fukushima told us, “We think Hakuba is at the heart of the freeskiing world in many ways and we’re really looking forward to hosting some of the best skiers in the world.” Hakuba’s alpine zone has already featured in a number of high-profile international snowboarding movies, made by Jeremy Jones, Xavier de la Rue, and most recently Travis Rice. However, the Freeride World Tour should demonstrate what kind of terrain can be ridden in Hakuba by those with much less time to plan and wait for a window of ideal conditions. We look forward to seeing what the top riders can do in our mountains!
HAKUBA’S SNOW PROFESSIONALS
Over 15 y
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• Backcountry Ski & Split-board Tours • Lift Accessed Off-Piste Tours • Snowshoe & Cross Country Tours • Avalanche Safety Training Courses
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NEW FOR 2016-2017 WINTER SEASON PARASKIING AT TSUGAIKE KOGEN Hakuba is known for its breathtaking mountains, incredible skiing and is now known as the first resort in Japan to offer Paraskiing or Speed Riding, depending where you are from. It is a new sensation that blends paragliding and skiing. This lets you ride/fly the slopes at incredible speeds. The skier is basically interchanging between skiing and floating off the ground, which anybody who has ever jumped with their skis on, will tell you is an incredibly exhilarating experience This year at Tsugaike Kogen’s Kanenonaru slopes or lookers left of the wide resort, will have tandem flights with an experienced instructor gliding you through the air with incredible views of the Japanese Alps. There will also be a beginner cable that allows you to jump a few feet in the air while being pulled along.
HUNGRY IN HAKUBA?
Looking for somewhere to dine, then pick up the Hakuba Dining Guide with an extensive selection of restaurants, cafés and bars. Find everything from family friendly to fine dining.
SPICY’S NEW STORE IN WADANO Spicy, Hakuba’s largest ski rental company with 8 shops in prime locations throughout the Hakuba Valley have moved into new premises in Wadano. The purpose built building is to match the growing international market as well as the re-emerging domestic one. The store will stock the latest skis and snowboards from beginners to wide powder ones. As with Spicy’s Happo & Echoland stores, there will be a larger retail section for the latest apparel and accessories.
BURTON MOVES IN HAKUBA GORYU Leading snowboard brand and apparel company Burton are opening a resort store in Hakuba Goryu’s Escal Plaza base area. The Burton store is a great new addition to the Hakuba Valley’s retail offerings. They will carry a selection of snowboards for men, women and children including high performance rental boards for those expert snowboarders who crave the ideal boards for the Hakuba mountains. Take a copy of this magazine to receive an original Burton Hakuba Goryu sticker.
Only one minute walk to the Happo one Nakiyama Slopes
JOEY’S FIRST SKI LESSON Long time Hakuba residents James and Nadine Robb created the children`s book `Joey`s First Ski Lesson` in October of last year. Aimed at ages 2-8, the book was made to introduce young children to some of the basic techniques that they will come across on the slopes, and in doing so give them relatable knowledge of the skiing world. Both being professional ski instructors with over 25 years of combined teaching experience, James and Nadine understand how daunting that first ski lesson can be for any child, as so much of what they encounter is new and unfamiliar. Written in rhyme and with fun illustrations, the book outlines little Joey`s first ski experience, with the goal of making the reader`s time on the slopes a little less overwhelming and a lot more fun! reader`s time on the slopes a little less overwhelming and a lot more fun!
TREE RUN COURSE OPEN @ IWATAKE SNOWFIELD The trees in Hakuba Valley are making a resurgence, and skiing has come full circle in the last 100 years of the sports existence in Hakuba. Skiing’s roots (pardon the pun) were in the trees when the pioneers of the sport earned their turns by skinning up forested terrain and riding back down into the valley’s beech, birch and oak trees that lace the Japan Alps. Fast forward 100 years and more of the ski areas are opening tree glades to the delight of many. This season Iwatake Snowfield are opening a new tree skiing course named “View +alpha”. As Iwatake sits on its own hill you can now ski more points of the compass!
The Ridge Hakuba Hotel & Apartments offer unparalleled Western style apartments and Japanese infused hotel rooms, all with luxury amenities, premium comfort, stunning views and high quality services.
Nestled in the beautiful and tranquil Wadano forest area at the base of Happo One, The Ridge is also conveniently surrounded by onsens, bars and restaurants.
MODERN DULUXE MOUNTAIN VIEW NOZAWA APARTMENTS Situated at the base of the Nozawa Onsen ski field and next to the renovated Nozawa Onsen Arena with indoor / outdoor mixed onsens and restaurant, The Ridge is also an easy 5-10 minute walk along heated roads to the Gondola and village.
STAYING IN TUNE WITH RHYTHM SNOWSPORTS Like any instrument, your skis and snowboards need to be kept in premium condition. Having them tuned regularly is a great idea, especially if you’re planning on taking advantage of Hakuba’s powder conditions. In fact, skiers and snowboarders who travel to Hakuba should put getting a tune at the top of their to do list for a variety of reasons. For example you may need to update the wax and structure on your bases so they’re more suited for powder. Cold conditions mean snow is more likely to stick to your skis or board so, in order to provide optimal glide, they need to be waxed with the most appropriate product. Rhythm’s passion for performance has gone so far they’ve even developed their own ski and board wax. This ultra special ‘brew’ includes the perfect fluorocarbons for Hakuba’s unique conditions, ensuring your ride is super smooth and fast even on the coldest, snowiest days. At Rhythm, their expert technicians work with the latest Wintersteiger machinery, offering a range of services including stone base grinding, ceramic disc edge finishing, hot waxing and general repair work. Their workshop is stocked with the latest technology which means not only is your equipment tuned to perfection, it can be done overnight so you’re on the slopes, ready to go without delay. Their technicians are also highly qualified and experienced and will be able to provide advice as to what you need in order to get the most from your gear. Regardless of the snow conditions, skis and boards of any type or age will benefit hugely from tuning, even if they’re brand new. Without waxing, bases will dry out and shrink away from the edges, which inhibits their rideability. Any kinds of inconsistencies in the base will also contribute to poor performance. Plus, most importantly, regular tuning increases the chances of beating all your mates down the mountain, so give your gear the love it deserves by getting a full service from Rhythm.
Many of us go on a family ski trip and experience wonderful things as a family but there are sometimes when Mom and Dad need a holiday too! Maybe it’s taking a few turns together or having dinner without the kids. Mommy Smile Babysitters will come to your hotel room or chalet and provide a quality and fun sitting service. See the ad on page 70.
IVSI ROLLS INTO TOWN Over 300 top ski demonstrators and coaches from over 19 countries will descend on the Hakuba Valley for the 2017 IVSI Congress. The event, held for 8 days, from 19 March to 26 March at the Happo-one Ski Resort, will attract the best skiers to share information on technique and teaching methodology across a number of snow sports. The IVSI Congress, which is held every four years, is considered one of the biggest winter sports events for instructors and one of the largest festival of skiers worldwide. Choosing Happo-one to host the IVSI Congress, indicates that the Hakuba Valley is growing internationally as a hub for winter sports.
RADIO CHECK......OVER & OUT Recently many overseas visitors are bringing radio equipment, namely walkie talkies with them on their ski trip as a means of communicating in the ski areas. Unless it has the Japanese compliance mark then these radios violate Japanese law and can interfere with administrative broadcasting relating to disaster prevention, especially true in the mountains when avalanches could strike at any time. If in doubt switch it off.
FEATURES All rooms equipped with mini-kitchen Shuttle bus stops outside Walking distance to restaurants
Pick-up & drop-off service Great views of the mountains Outdoor hot-spring Private ski rental
LOOK OUT FOR THE HAPPO-ONE CONCIERGES
What is the best job in a ski resort? Some say that it has to be a ski concierge, and we can see why: They get to ski or snowboard all day, all over the mountain! The Happo-one concierge team is made up of professional volunteers who are trained throughout the season. The Concierges provide service in a variety of areas including greeting and giving out information to guests, assisting with special events, greeting groups, administering guest surveys and comment cards, fielding questions and more importantly sending the guests off with a smile. Look out for the concierges on Happo-one, they wear bright red jackets and are usually helping someone find their way around the vast mountain.
IF YOU THOUGHT WINTER WAS GOOD; YOU MUST VISIT IN SUMMER
For those of you who love Hakuba in the winter there is another side to Hakuba which needs to be seen to be believed. The locals call it the Green Season. As the snow slowly recedes to higher altitude and the winter weather changes to spring sunshine, the cherry blossoms come out, the rivers flow and the landscape begins to change and itâ€™s time to enjoy some other adventures and activities on offer; road cycling, mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, canyoning and of course paragliding from the peaks of Hakuba just to name a few........
STORY: STEWART ADAMSON PHOTOS: PATRICK FUX
Last winter 2015/16 was a bad one for snow, the worst in twenty years or more. We thought weâ€™d look back at what happened, take a wider look at how it related to worldwide weather, and then crunch some numbers to see if there have been any trends in Hakubaâ€™s climate in the recent past.
of spring rain to melt away the snow left higher up in the backcountry. Along with near-record warm temperatures, April brought gale-force winds nationwide, with gusts of close to 100kph being recorded in Hakuba on April 17. In winter 2015/16, more roofs were damaged by wind than by snow. Why? Winter 2015/16 was a strong El Nino, the phenomenon marked by warm ocean water in the central and east-central Pacific, producing high pressure and warm and dry weather over the western Pacific where Japan is located. El Nino has a reputation for poor snow years.
HAKUBA ANNUAL TEMPERATURE
It was a stinker! Things had looked promising, with a cold snap in September bringing the autumn colors early. However, the global El Nino took hold and 2015 ended with the second warmest November and warmest December in the forty years that the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) have kept records for Hakuba. December was also dry, leaving the lower ski slopes patchy and unrideable. Against everyoneâ€™s wishes, it stayed mild and dry through Christmas Day and then the New Year period, the peak for Japanese visitors. With no snow elsewhere on Honshu, this meant the crowds still came, resulting in long lift lines on the few slopes that were open. Large areas of the resorts remained closed well into January. Peak despair came on January 3 and 4 when monthly temperature records were smashed by hitting 13C on consecutive afternoons, sunny t-shirt weather in what should be midwinter. Snow and subzero temperatures finally arrived in mid-January. Ski-friendly weather continued for about four weeks, climaxing on February 9 when a short, intense storm brought some of the heaviest snow ever seen at town level. The switch then flipped again and March 2016 was the warmest and driest on record. The skies did open in April, but only to bring lots
The last strong El Nino was in 1997/98, when fluctuating conditions played havoc with the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The other main suspect is the record run of global temperatures that brought sixteen straight record months from March 2015 to August 2016. As mentioned above, Hakuba did not experience notably above-average temperatures until November, which would suggest last winter was more due to El Nino. What about Winter 2016/2017? Early predictions made by NASA in mid-2016 pointed to a switch to la Nina, usually snow-positive for Japan, but such predictions have since been
rescinded. JMA issued their winter forecast on September 24, and in their usual non-committal way it is for a normal winter that could be warmer or colder with equal probability. As long-term visitors will know, a “normal” winter in Hakuba will bring fantastic conditions with lots of big powder days. In recent months, Hakuba has had a typical summer and a warmish, but initially very wet autumn. The first snow lying on the northern Alps was seen on November 1 at Tateyama. A little late perhaps, but nothing too unusual. Long-Term Trends in Hakuba JMA have had a weather station in Hakuba for nearly forty years. It is currently located at the town hall and its historical records can be viewed by anyone on the JMA website. Most of the JMA’s forecasting work is available in English, but their historical data can only be accessed in Japanese. In keeping with the rise in global temperatures observed since 1970, the biggest trend in JMA’s Hakuba records is a gradual rise in annual average temperature, as shown in the graph. As given in the table, winter months have suffered too, with average temperatures in February and March in recent years up by about one degree Centigrade from the 1980s when the records begin. Of late, January precipitation has also been down. As an indicator to what these numbers mean, Nozawa Onsen, situated about two hundred meters lower than Hakuba, is about 1C milder, but gets more snow due to higher winter precipitation. Recent Decembers in Hakuba have seen both higher temperatures and more precipitation, leading to a “double or quits” type situation for early season. The precipitation may come early in the month as rain, giving us nothing at resort level, or there may be tons of snow and few people around to ride it, December 2014 being the obvious recent example. It can snow so much in a single early winter system that you do not have to wait for several snows for things to get good. One long-term shop owner in Hakuba refers to early-season snow that arrives before the tourists as “Paradise”. Long-term, average temperature in Hakuba appears to be rising in keeping with the global average, around 0.2C per decade. Looking in the future, this does not bode well for the many lift-serviced slopes at town level. When it comes to ski visitors though, the overall situation is much more complex. At present, a poor snow year for Japan hardly affects visits to Hakuba from Japan-based skiers. What happens is that riders who would normally go to other, more marginal ski resorts closer to the big cities are forced to travel to big Nagano resorts like Hakuba to reach the snow.
Hence the big queues at New Year last season, in spite of the terrible start to the season. A common phenomenon in big snow years across Japan is that visitor numbers to Hakuba actually fall, due to skiers staying closer to home and storms in Gunma and southern Nagano closing the expressways. Most Japanese workers will not risk getting stuck in Hakuba and missing work on Monday. If you can get here during a big Siberian system across Japan, it will not be crowded. Unlike other ski areas, Hakuba also has the contentious option of expand-
ing into the alpine, the 800m or so of vertical that exists above the present ski slopes. Pressure from FIS to use the land above Happo-One for the Men’s Downhill at the 1998 Nagano Olympics was resisted on environmental grounds, but rising temperatures and commercial pressures may win out in the end. We hope it does not have to come to this, but it is a potential option. Temperature typically drops by around six degrees Centigrade on average with 1000m of altitude. Upper slopes in Hakuba get well over double the snow witnessed in town.
Here’s a look at some local names and where they come from. HAKUBA VILLAGE The name “Hakuba” is a recent creation, dating only sixty years or so to the amalgamation of the Kamishiro and Hokujo areas to form a new town that needed a name. It is the alternative reading of the kanji of the highest mountain above town, Mt. Shirouma, written as “white horse”. However, local dialects and limited literacy in the countryside mean that the connections between spoken names and written names are never simple in Japan. The accepted version is that the mountain was originally named the “ploughing horse”. This is because the shape of a horse appears grey on white in the rocks below the summit in spring, just as it’s time to plough the paddies using horses and oxen. Somewhere in history, someone wrote the “shiro” part of the mountain’s name down as “white”, and that’s what stuck. We ended up with a mountain and now a town named the “white horse”. Hi ho, Silver!s HAKUBA HAPPO Happo-One is a relatively new name, the area originally being called “Hosono”. Happo, or “eight directions” is taken from the eight (Happo) ridges (or “one”, pronounced “oh nay”) above the ski resort to the peaks behind. The top of the Adam Gondola is called Usagidaira or “rabbit flats”. Look out for rabbit footprints in the fresh morning snow, they always seem to get first tracks! Happo was home to Hakuba’s first gondola, the “Hakuba Cable”, that ran up the grandly named “Hakuba International Ski Resort”. The Nakiyama and Sakka ski areas on both sides were operated by different companies.
KAERAZU-NO-KEN Kaerazu-no-ken is the very steep alpine face that can be seen extending to lookers right from the very top of the mountains above Happo-One ski area. Its name means the “peak (lit. “blade”) of no return” (!) It is the alpine area ridden by Jeremy Jones and crew in the snowboarding movie “Further”. Jones was by no means the first to descend this face, but he could well be the fastest. Riding it takes a lot of skill, careful timing, and significant logistics, and should not be considered lightly. HAKUBA GORYU Goryu Ski Resort takes its name from Mt. Goryu, the mountain that extends above it to 2,814 meters . The name is currently written using the characters for “five dragons”, but these were chosen to fit an existing spoken name, the origin of which is debated. The best known theory focuses on the distinct “four diamonds in a diamond” shape in the rock at the summit, which coincides with the emblem of the Takeda clan who ruled Nagano during the civil war period in the 15th and 16th centuries. Another theory suggests the name comes from Mt. Goryu’s position to the rear of the higher Mt. Tateyama when looking from Toyama. The northern section of the Japan Alps themselves is still referred to in Japanese as the “Ushiro Tateyama Renpo” or “Rear
Tateyama Range”. Like all of the older ski resorts, Goryu was created by combining lifts operated by different companies. In the 1960s, the area was known as the Sawado and Kamishiro ski resorts named after the communities at the foot of the mountain.. ECHOLAND Imagine the sound of carefree holiday makers enjoying the excitement of an all year round resort with their voices echoing off the nearby mountains, well perhaps that’s what the developers had in mind when the Echoland area was created in the 1970s. Japanese have a penchant for mashing English words together without worrying about what English speakers think, and we guess that’s what has happened here. Some skiing-related examples of Japanese English would be “magic tape” for the Velcro on your jacket, “plus driver” for the Phillips screwdriver you use on your bindings, and “doctor stop” for when the doc looks at your knees and says “No more skiing!” Keep your eyes and ears open for bizarre English whenever you are in Japan. Some of it is truly inspired TSUGAIKE KOGEN Above Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort sits the Tsugaike Kogen Nature Park, a popular destination outside winter for walks in and around a protected wetland with many unique alpine flora. “Tsugaike” combines “tsuga”, an evergreen tree called the Japanese hemlock that grows in this region, and “ike” the word for “pond”, from the wetland in the nature park. “Kogen” means highland.
Maybe you have seen the Goryu diamond in numerous logos from around Japan
Hakuba 47 - easiest name to say, but do you know the meaning? Echoland - Strange Japanese English?
Count the ridges behind the the ski area to find the name of Happo-one
HAKUBA 47 The Hakuba Valley’s most recent resort opened in 1990 and has probably the easiest name to explain. This is the place to enjoy all FOUR seasons SEVEN days a week. Most locals eschew the “forty-seven” name in Japanese and call the resort “four-seven” or “Yon-nana”. KASHIMAYARI Kashimayari’s name derives from Mt. Kashimayari, the alpine mountain with dual peaks resembling devil’s horns that can be seen from the ski area but is not connected to it. Our favourite place to view the mountain is the outdoor onsen on the roof of the center building. The mountain’s name is believed to derive from the “Yari of Kashima”, “Yari” being the famous Matterhorn-like spear peak further south in the Japan Alps, and “Kashima” being a village of “ochimusha” or fallen samurai who lived at the base of the mountain. OTARI VILLAGE Otari is the name of the village to the north of Hakuba that is home to the three ski areas of Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura, and Hakuba Cortina. Written evidence suggests that the spoken name “Otari” has been in use since the twelfth century. For the last hundred years or so, the name has been written using the kanji for “small valley”, which evokes the narrowing of the Hakuba valley in the Otari region. Like the story of the “white horse”, Otari’s website describes how the name “Otari” may have different roots, deriving from the kanji for “hemp” as “oh”, and “drooping/sagging” as “taru/tareru”. Hemp was formerly grown throughout this region, and the area to the southeast of Hakuba is called “Miasa”, or “beautiful hemp”. Hemp cultivation was banned during the US occupation following the Second World War. What is certain is that the name “Otari” will have originally referred to a small village of possibly just twenty houses. Every little hamlet in “Otari” has a separate name, which will still be used by locals long after they were absorbed into a larger grouping that retained the Otari name. Separate houses in such hamlets also have individual names, which are useful in small communities where people share the same surname. HAKUBA CORTINA & HAKUBA NORIKURA Mt. Norikura is the name of a peak up and about 5km due west of the ski resort. The mountain is hard to spot from the ski area and can be seen more clearly from neighbouring Tsugaike. To avoid confusion with a larger mountain named Norikura to the south, the resort is generally referred to by locals as “HakuNori”. Cortina does not appear to have any clear connection with the Cortina in Italy’s Dolomites, but certainly gets more snow. Like Happo, Cortina used to call itself “International” and ironically only stopped after non-Japanese skiers and boarders started going there in significant numbers (!) Despite being in Otari, both these resorts have always called themselves “Hakuba”, a precursor to the “Hakuba Valley”, the new name now used for all the ski resorts in this region.
Hakuba Cortina. One large hotel but is the ski area linked to Cortina in Italy?
When running a year-round outdoor tour and guiding company, your activities and programs inevitably revolve around the four seasons. This is especially true here in Hakuba, where the coming of winter can bring upwards of a meter of snow overnight! You can be on your mountain bike one day, then skiing early season pow the next. In contrast, when warm spring temperatures arrive you can still squeeze in a few turns in the alpine, but the green valleys are a paddler’s playground. You’ve got to have your gear and guides ready for these seasonal changes.
hen Dave and Mariko Enright started Evergreen in 2000, they could hardly imagine the growth and expansion that was in store 16 years down the line. From having only one guide and a handful of instructors on call, the company now runs year-round with winter staff of over a hundred. The reason for such progress is mainly due to overseas promotion, more ski tourists and word-ofmouth, so the Hakuba Valley is seeing a growing number of visitors both Japanese and visitors alike. Evergreen has in turn progressed to offer more types of outdoor recreational activities to the public and with an expansive menu, the necessity for separate divisions within the company arose. Most locals in Hakuba now know that EOC has its own ski school “Evergreen International Ski School” and also a separate base of operations for its winter tours like backcountry and snowshoeing. In the past, any of the winter programs, lessons, tours or courses fell into one of these two sections.
2016-2017 brings about a few new changes to the face of Evergreen, in the way of structuring and division of the activity sections. Within the Evergreen Outdoor Center umbrella will be the previously stated “Evergreen International Ski School”, the “Evergreen Alpine Academy”, “Evergreen Backcountry Guides”, “Evergreen Paddle Center”, “Evergreen Cycle Revolution” & “Evergreen Vertical Adventures”. Yes, there are lots of different parts of the same working company yet all are still adhering to the same standards of guiding safety, professional instructors and quality client care that
“Evergreen International Ski School”- Ski and Snowboard Instruction for all ages & abilities, Daycare services, Private and Group Lessons, Children’s Ski Programs: Hakuba Hero’s and Yeti Club, Junior Race and Freeride programs.
“Evergreen Alpine Academy”- Ski and Snowboard Instructor Certification Courses & Training programs, Avalanche Safety Courses (AST 1 &2), Companion Rescue Skills (CRS)
“Evergreen Backcountry Guides”- Backcountry Ski & Splitboard tours, Lift accessed Off-Piste tours, Snowshoe tours, Cross-country ski tours, Multi-day ski tours, Avalanche Safety Courses (AST 1 &2), Companion Rescue Skills (CRS) (within the Alpine Academy framework)
and eligible participants will be granted a position within the Evergreen International Ski School for the following winter season. The opportunity to learn from seasoned high level instructors, hands-on experience in lessons and applicable ski industry training make this a unique and valuable course for anyone thinking about becoming an instructor. they have provided in the past. This year Evergreen will be offering a comprehensive training program for up and coming ski and snowboard instructors who want to receive in-depth training in their field and then receive internationally recognized instructor certification. Run through the Alpine Academy this program will also teach participants the methodology behind instructing and they’ll gain real ski school experience while shadowing then assisting on lessons. The course will also include the Avalanche Safety Course to introduce them to safe backcountry travel in avalanche terrain. In addition, successful
Although the rebranding and restructuring of Evergreen is conceptually new for some, the divisions within the company all keep their reasons for pursuing outdoor sports as the same universal mission. That focus is; regardless of where you are, on developing the human spirit while in nature, promoting personal challenge and teamwork while maintaining a high standard of safety. We can only have fun when we feel comfortable and safe, then we can push ourselves a little farther, try something new and discover new adventures along the way. Here’s to going on new outdoor adventures big or small!
Hakuba Valley local and multi-business owner WIL BERESFORD has been a resident for 25 years, long before the first international tour packages came to town. We sat down with Wil and a see how the resort has changed over the past quarter of a century. What brought you to Hakuba? Originally, it was a kitchen job that brought me here. I was based in Tokyo and looking for a cheap place to live, so I worked out a deal with two Kiwis and a guy from Oregon so that I would have an affordable place to live if I taught them how to surf. As the first winter arrived, they introduced me to Hakuba and snowboarding, and I was hooked. There’s no question that they can now surf better than me – 25 years in the making – but I could show them a trick or two in the mountains. What are the major differeneces on the infrasture of the resort from then and now? Personally, I don’t believe that the infrastructure has changed that much, but resort attitude and behavior have changed drastically since 1994. Back then, there were groomed trails and the rest was untouched. No-one rode the trees, it was a disguised Utopia. My buddies and I would enjoy the fresh powder, the forbidden fruit that were so popular with us. We were Team Adam. Does more visitors mean less powder to be had? To give you an idea I think it was 1996. It hadn’t snowed for 10 days and we had methodically “mowed” every tree run within the closer resorts in Hakuba. Craig Kelly turned up and I was asked to guide him. Only through his excitement did I learn how he couldn`t believe how Cortina would sit out there untouched for 10 days until we got to it. The trees were again forbidden, so we ollied the rope and rode a single line in and a single line out back onto the piste so that when ski patrol saw it, it would look like only one person had gone in. It would take 4-6 of us the best part of a day to ride every tree run in Cortina and never cross another line all day. Today Corts is done in a much quicker time. To answer less visitors but less pow - thank goodness for splitboarding. How did you come to open a specialized snowboard and ski store? The Boarding Co. has been in Hakuba for 10 years now. There’s been a few
Wil, second from the left with Ralph Backstom (current competitor of World free ride tour and world champ 4 years ago , Ryland Bell another world competitor and Chris, one of the cinematographers of the movie Deeper. milestones I suppose. We were the first Burton Learn To Ride snowboard rental shop in the valley. The companies we worked with at the time were very rider driven, not shareholder driven..... but the only constant is change. Access to China has also had a massive impact producing smaller product lines for greater margins, which is both good and bad. On the positive side, it’s driven the consumer price down, but it’s sadly also closed a lot of development doors for gifted talent and sponsorships in the industry. We took a risk in becoming a specialist shop for directional powder boards just when the Lib Tech Banana twintip was the most marketed board on the planet, and we were the first specialist splitboard shop in the area. It paid off though, with our customers coming from all ends of Japan and all over the world to buy from us. We are still evolving, and it’s been very hands on. I have always been fortunate to have the company of leading athletes who share their thoughts on product developments as they happen and before they are marketed. Just because an athlete gets free products doesn’t always mean they will rate it as the best - that insight is essential. Product-wise, our primary
focus is to source function over fashion and use companies who are primarily rider-driven in their products. Japanese are our main clientele and they, and the Scandinavians, are so good at research and understanding quality that it drives us to be better at what we do, as does the customer-focused level of service you need in Japan. I am stoked to have grown in a Japanese recession, and can only thank my staff for maintaining the vision and helping put Hakuba on the retail map. There were only a few shops here when I started, and now we have major outlets like Patagonia and The North Face, as well as what I call the seasonal “90 day slatwall” invasion, That’s all a very different market to us, and we choose to specialize. Everyone loves fish & chips Johnny and I worked together 24 years ago in Tokyo. He did inspiring things with food then and still does. He just has so much depth of knowledge which you wouldn’t think would be necessary for a takeaway. Then again we don’t want to be average, so I am thrilled to have him. The idea of fish and chips came from watching Japanese go into Sushi restaurants in the West. They would be in Australia for five days or so, and after steaks, sandwiches
and counter meals, they had to have rice or they would go crazy. This is the mirror image for foreigners visiting Hakuba. In the offseason we provide a nostalgic taste to well-travelled locals or a novel experience to first timers. (Fish Republik is a gourmet takeaway located near Hakuba Station. Call 0261-85-0049) How did you move into the car rental business? After years of going to Bali and getting great surf just in front of wherever I stayed, it became crowded. A hire car between friends meant you had the freedom to go just beyond the crowds, chase the swell when it wasn’t working near your accommodation, or do something cultural during an injury or a flat spell. Japan is such a non-hostile environment and people are so helpful, it’s so funny watching people come back with their lost in translation experiences after a day trip. Hakuba Car Rental. Call 0261-85-0097 Do you have anything new for this coming season? This year we have Japan’s first range of Lib Tech powder skis featuring an edge technology called magna traction. For intermediate riders who thought it would be a powder day but get ice-swept bowls, it provides some reassuring edge control on a traditionally wide ski. We have set these up as touring skis, but they ride like a normal ski with a fixed heel. Thanks for giving us this platform as we don’t do packages with travel agents and are fiercely independent. Some visitors only find out about us on their second or third visit. We carry a range of standard and family equipment, as well the most extensive and quality range of touring equipment in town, with all skis featuring Marker bindings and boards coming with the latest Spark R&D Tesla (One-touch, click-on) systems.
THE BOARDING CO. Owned and managed by Wil the Boarding Co., Pro Shop is located near to the main Hakuba train station. In its 10th year of business the shop has evolved from the goto shop for anything to becoming an extremely specilaized shop in technical wear, powder boards and powder skis. Whilst native English this shop prides itself in a Japanese level of service using local talent and embracing itself as part of the community. Tel: 0261-85-5095 HAKUBA RENTAL Since 2013 though the numbers for ski tourism in Japan have grown steadily and so has Hakuba Rental. They pride themsleves on not doing “cattle truck deals” or tie inns with large inbound agencies but cataer directly to the customers. Mostly online and they also pride themselves on one of the best online booking services in the game. Tel: 0261-85-2046
ave you seen the Black Bear paw mark popping up around Hakuba? Well, there are more of them this season … lots more!
Black Bear Properties has grown from two properties under management in 2010 to twenty properties for the 2017 season, but that’s not all... The Bears have been very busy. They opened Hakuba’s first Lobster restaurant, The Lobster Shack, in April 2016, and then Black Bear Wakeboarding at nearby Lake Kizaki-ko in July 2016, and now for the winter season of 2016 and 2017, they are opening Bear’s Cafe and Goldilocks Lounge Bar. After 15 years in Tokyo, Black Bear owner’s Des and Hiro moved up to Hakuba about 10 years ago, an easy move after being in Hakuba almost every winter weekend for so many years. The idea of semi-retirement in Hakuba soon evaporated as Black Bear started to grow. From a start of two, it was soon seven, then 12, then 15 and now 20 rental properties, and with the increased workload the Black Bear team had to grow
as well. The team of local staff moved Black Bear offices from Iwatake, to Echoland, above The Lobster Shack in April 2016 to allow for more growth. Now with a team of 25 staff members for the winter season, the new office is already full! With the mindset of it being “time to do all the things you want to do,” and wanting to support the growth of Hakuba as an international ski resort, Des felt The Lobster Shack would be a fresh style and taste, the perfect addition to the Hakuba dining scene. A new outdoor dining area and The Shack Bar and bar snacks soon proved to be a big hit with the locals in the off-season. The Shack is ready to share an amazing winter menu with all the visitors to Hakuba, every evening from 5pm until late. With seating for over 50 people, a great choice for large groups, The Shack Bar is a casual and friendly dining experience for families. Sharing is caring! Hakuba is also a great place to be in the off-season. For the summer, Des went back to his boating youth and moved his office lakeside to Lake Kizaki-ko, a 15-minute drive from Hakuba. Black Bear Wakeboarding offers wakeboarding, waterskiing, and banana boat rides. It is great fun trying to stay
on the banana! It is also a great spot to BBQ and relax, giving you a place to spend a summer day out on the water in a postcard setting. A happy, happy bear! As the summer drew to a close, staying with the theme of doing things they wanted to do, the Bears got busy again, and in September started renovations on the old Weather Report building on the main street of Echoland. It was a huge project but kept with the idea of adding to the options in Echoland and Hakuba. It is opening December 2016, so look out for the paw mark at Bear’s Cafe on the ground floor. It will be a spacious casual cafe bistro with seating for 60 people, open for breakfast and dinner. From a relaxed gourmet coffee to a quick coffee to go while waiting for the shuttle, or after a hard day on the slopes, it’s an easy option for a casual dinner. After all this work, the Bears needed somewhere to relax, so upstairs from Bear’s Cafe is the Goldilocks Lounge Bar, open in the evenings from 5pm until late. With comfortable sofas to sit in and relax away the strains and pains of the day, premium wines, champagne and cocktails, this lounge is the perfect place to end the day. And for the Bears, well … next summer the Bears are going into hibernation to recover from all this activity!
RHYTHM HAKUBA STOCKS THE LARGEST AND LATEST RANGE OF SNOW SPORTS GEAR IN TOWN
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SHOP LOCATION: Wadano Visitors Centre, Hakuba | CALL +81 261-72-3288 | OPERATING HOURS - 7:30am to 8:00pm
RHYTHM HAKUBA - NAGANO, JAPAN | RHYTHM NISEKO – HOKKAIDO, JAPAN
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When it comes to buying ski boots having ones that fit well can make the difference between an O.K. winter vacation to an awesome one. Ski boots are the most important piece of equipment from which you transfer technique to your skis.
t was one of those mornings, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, a perfect bluebird day. The slopes were groomed to perfection, it was what the Japanese called “saiko”. But it wasn’t perfect for me there was something not totally right….my feet inside my ski boots were hurting and spoiling my morning. It was time to head over to BOOT SOLUTIONS and sort out my ski boot problem once and for all. Boot Solutions is located in the large Rhythm Snowsports store in lower Wadano. It is owned and operated by Ned Buckley, a leading Australian Podiatrist who has been fitting ski boots since 2001. The Hakuba store was opened in 2013
to great reviews and testimonials. At the store I met up with Dylan, who expertly showed me the process of what I needed to do to have responsive yet comfy ski boots. First he looked over my slightly irregular shaped feet and located the pressure points that were causing the pain. After diagnosing the issues he went on to discuss the recommended solutions with my existing five year old boots or using more appropriate boots in the future. Seeing as my current boots had given me so much pain I settled on buying a new pair as I was definitely due an upgrade. Buying the boots was only the beginning of the process, Dylan started to weave his magic and work on that custom fit. I was fitted with custom footbeds, these were not only to stabilize my feet in the boots but also to correct any posture problems enabling more energy to transfer to the skis. The boot liners were first heated and then worn inside the shell of the boots. As the liners cooled they molded to the contours of my feet and would provide a better fit as well as eliminate those annoying pressure points. The boots were feeling more like a sock then ski boots and I couldn’t wait to get back out on to the slopes. But before I did, Dylan placed a tiny sticker on the boots explaining the if I had any problems with my new boots that this seal was a Boot Solutions Guarantee good for two full seasons, not that I have needed to return! Although the fitting took about 90 minutes, it has enabled me to ski for much longer pain free periods and as the saying goes…I should have done this years ago. SW BOOT SOLUTIONS are located in the Rhythm Snowsports Store in lower Wadano
SPECIALIST CUSTOM BOOTFITTING STORE Cold, painful feet? We’ll save you! • Our expert Podiatrists and Master Bootfitters are passionate about solving all boot problems! • Full customization available including; footbeds, molded liners, and customized shells • Hakuba's largest range of ski boots, boot heaters and other accessories SHOP LOCATION Rhythm Snowsports, Wadano Visitors Centre CALL +81 808-629-2589 OPERATING HOURS 8:00am to 7:00pm BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT ONLINE TODAY, OR VISIT IN STORE! VISIT www.bootsolutionsjapan.com EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
PRET HELMET The overwhelming choice of our professional athletes. Cynic X draws on the strengths of the Cynic and takes it to a whole new level. Developed with athlete input and safety in mind, Pret X delivers style, safety and fit with MIPS® and RECCO® technologies. We added X-Static® fabric to keep it fresh. The Cynic X is audio ready* featuring our detachable Covert ear covers. The Cynic X has raised the bar with an exceptional blend of design and technology for phenomenal performance. THREE PEAKS Page 55
GOPRO: Hero 5 GoPro is the first—if not only—name most people think of when it comes to action cameras. The latest model Hero5 model is now out on sale! Rhythm Snowsports Page 51 FISHER: RC PRO 120 The RC Pro 120 Thermoshape from Fischer knows how to keep hardcharging, all-mountain skiers performing at their best. Designed to meet the specific needs of advanced all-mountain skiers, the ski boots know how to provide power, responsiveness, and comfort. For bold and thrill seekers only. Boot Solutions Page 53
BERGHAUS EXTREM 8000 PRO JACKET Berghaus’ innovative design, exceptional tailoring and performance engineering have come together with GORE technology to create a serious mountain jacket that gives you everything you need to tackle the Hakuba peaks. Kojitsu Sanso Page 57
PRIOR SNOWBOARDS: HAKUPOW Suitable for big open bowls to trees. This is a board built to function and can handle those ugly days when you drop into a bowl only to find its 2 cms deep on bullet proof ice. Try that on some of these fashionable sticks floating around now and you will be lucky to come home in one piece. The Boarding Co. Page 47
THE NORTH FACE: HAKUBA T-SHIRTS The North Face collaboration with Hakuba has seen the release of the North Face x Hakuba t-shirts. Available in three colors for men and three colors for ladies. These are sought after souvenirs ideal for family and friends or just to show off that you have been to Hakuba! Yamatoya Page 59
BURTON: FAMILY TREE SPLITBOARD Veteran Burton photographer Dean “Blotto” Gray shot the pristine winter scenes that adorn the bases of the Family Tree lineup, and evoke the simple beauty of the freerider’s natural habitat. Burton Store Page 06
THE NORTH FACE: DUBS JKT Designed to rabble-rouse all over the mountain with you, the Dubs is best suited for tackling resort terrain, the park, and maybe a few impromptu snowball fights with your friends. The North Face Page 60
ORIGINAL 902 T-SHIRT Located about the center of Echoland Main Street, Garage 902 is famous for not only carrying the latest trendy brands such as Volcom and Quicksilver but also making highly original t-shirts. Garage 902 Page 59
LIBERTY: ORIGIN96 The all-new Origin96 is nimble and powerful with Speedcore/Carbon construction, tip rocker, and a low rise tail. Carve hard on the frontside, ski some trees, or even bash bumps with the Origin96, it’s up for anything. And, who doesn’t love a good sunset? THREE PEAKS Page 55
How does tax free shopping work in Japan? In Japan, displaying your passport at any store that offers tax exemption will allow you to purchase goods without the 8% consumption tax.
What can I buy? Commodities (non-consumable items), such as consumer electronics, bags, ornaments, clothing, shoes, etc. are tax-exempt on purchases above 10,001 yen. Consumables, such as foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, medicine, cosmetics, etc. to the list of tax-exempt goods, on purchases above 5,001 yen
Full service workshop Do I need my passport? Yes, the store will place a proof of purchase in your passport, his document will be collected by a customs officer at the airport. You must take all the products out of Japan. For food, sake and cosmetics, the package must be kept sealed.
How much can I save? All items can be purchased at stores exclusive of the 8% consumption (VAT, GST) tax
Who is able to shop tax free?
All temporary visitors (less than six months stay in Japan) such as foreign tourists. Japanese nationals who live overseas and plan to do so for two years or more may benefit if they are visiting Japan temporarily.
All repairs Custom wax blends Edging | Base Grinds Structure | P-tex and Binding mounts LOCATED WITHIN
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Hakuba Connect met up with the new Director of the Hakuba Tourism Commission, Yojiro Fukushima to discuss about the projects undertaken and the challenges for the future
Please tell us a little about your past? I am born and bred here right here in Hakuba. Previously I worked at Hakubaâ€™s largest hotel the Hakuba Tokyu Hotel in Wadano. At the same time I was general secretary of the accommodation group Hakuba Tourism, in June of this year I joined the similar sounding but totally different, Hakuba Tourism Commission. What do you remember about the 1998 Olympics? It was actually quite strange as I was in Vancouver, Canada perfecting my English while the Olympics were on. Seeing my hometown on TV every day made me very proud. In terms of infrastructure, it made Hakuba so much more accessible with the Shinkansen arriving in Nagano and widening of the road to Hakuba. What was Hakuba like back then? It was total chaos, this was during the Japanese ski bubble with the town overflowing with visitors. You had to
wait up to one hour just to ride a ski lift, now it only takes a couple of minutes. At that time my parents ran a souvenir and bookstore along with several vending machines. I used to come home from school and help count the money over the kitchen table before it was deposited in the bank the next day. How has Hakuba changed over the last two decades? After the Olympics and with the downturn of the Japanese economy the ski bubble burst. This hit Hakuba really hard. One by one many of friends left the resort to find work in the cities, it was really painful to watch. In recent years with the international market and the re-emergence of the Japanese snow tourists many young people are returning attracted by the lifestyle of an international resort. We are seeing a lot of these people on local committees pushing for continued change in the Hakuba Valley.
I used to come home from school and help count the money over the kitchen table before it was deposited in the bank the next day.
“Think Global Act International” is the phrase that I go by with my work at the Hakuba Tourism Commission Is there anything you keep in your mind when you promote Hakuba Valley to the world? “Think Global Act International” is the phrase that I go by with my work at Hakuba Tourism Commission. I want to show in-depth the unique cultural and background of Hakuba. Even though skiing has been around for just over 100 years here in Hakuba, the mountains and the mountain way of life have been here for much longer. I like to show this culture when I promote the Hakuba Valley both home and abroad..
years’ time, and if so, what kind of projects do you think you will, or would like to be, working on? I have to get through the first 10 years first! But with the new international tourism curriculum implanted in Hakuba High School we will hopefully, if everything goes to plan, see, some motivated highly professional young people running businesses in the resort. Even though I am supporting many of the elderly business owners in town I want to push the upcoming young people to get their ideas realized.
Is the domestic market increasing like the inbound one? It is difficult for the Japanese market to accelerate rapidly like the international one. There are so many ski areas in Japan that are all competing for the dwindling domestic population. Hopefully the Hakuba Valley is positioned well with plentiful to discover and explore.
What are some of the challenges of running a tourism office in Japan in particular? After joining the Hakuba Tourism Bureau in June of this year, everyday seems to be a challenge with different conferences and meetings. My schedule book is so full that I wish that I had 48 hours in one day. But I know I have a duty for the local people as well as to the visitors of the Hakuba Valley to keep it in its pristine environment and at the same time, further develop it for the future. A fine balancing act!
What do you think Hakuba will be like in 10 years’ time? I am very optimistic for the future of the Hakuba Valley. I have been involved to get the internationally acclaimed Freeride World Tour in Hakuba this winter. New mountain bike trails are being developed throughout the valley as well as both art and film festivals planned. My dream is for visitors to not only enjoy the Hakuba hospitality but also to have something going on when they are here. Do you think you will be here in 10
What do you like to do for fun and to relax when you are not running HTC? I love spending time with the local Hakuba residents and hearing their input on what’s right and what needs improving in Hakuba. I am regular on the slopes with my young family. They are snowboarders just like me! This season I would like to, if I have the time, to get more into the backcountry. In the green season, I am a regular on the MTB trails throughout the valley.
COOKING CLASS HAND-ROLLED SUSHI
KIMONO & TEA CEREMONY TOUR
The Happo Information Center and bus station with a cafe and WiFi is located in the center of Happo Village. Besides selling bus tickets, it carries local tourist brochures and maps in your local language. English speaking staff are on hand to help out with various inquires They also have an international ATM that accepts foreign issued credit cards. Ski lockers are available. Open daily from 06:00 - 21:00 Happo Information Center 0261-72-3066
Ski Shuttle Buses are plentiful and service all resorts. For some routes you will need to change at the Happo Information Center /Bus Terminal. Please remember which number or letter bus you catch in the morning so you can get the same one back to your accommodation. If in doubt check with the driver your hotelâ€™s name. Please note, though a little confusing the Hakuba Valley Buses that run from resort to resort are 500yen each way. Other buses from accommodation areas to individual resorts are free.
Hakuba is served by local taxi companies and are usually parked up at the main Hakuba station. Expect to pay about 1,500 yen between Wadano and Echoland. Ask your accommodation to book for you as most drivers do not speak English. Please note that the taxis stop running at about 1:00am. After that you are on your own. Book early for peak times! Alps Daichi Koutsu Service 0261-72-2221 Hakuba Kanko Taxi 0261-72-2144
Getting around in the evening is cheap and convenient with the Genki-go evening shuttle bus services. The buses circulate the resort from about 5pm to about 11pm. There are four routes this year, red and blue as well as buses to Omachi and Hakuba Cortina. Make sure you know what time the bus leaves to go back to your accommodation or it could be an expensive taxi ride or a long walk. The fare is 300 yen for both adults and children. Under sixes are free. The service runs from December 23rd through to February 28. Check inside the free Hakuba Connect map for times and routes.
You need to have a valid Inernational Driverâ€™s License for renting
All cars : 4WD/Snow Tyres/Roof Rack Optional : English GPS, WiFi Booking over 72 hour: Free pick up at your accommodation in the Hakuba Area
S Class Nissan March/Toyota Vitz 5 Passengers
G Class Mazda Premacy Subaru Forester XG Class Volvo v70 5 Passengers
F Class Nissan Elgrand / Honda STW 8passengers XF class Toyota Hi-Ace 10 passengers
COMMUNICATIONS POST OFFICES
Most hotels and lodges will either have computer terminals, wireless networks or both. Happo Information Center has a computer terminal for rent. Free public wireless internet is available around the town, though there is limited access. Many restaurant and cafes carry free internet. International public telephones are limited though there is one across from the Wadano Visitor Center.. The green public telephones are for domestic use and the grey ones for international. Telephone cards can be purchased at convenience stores and some hotels.
Hakuba doesn’t have a hospital, the nearest is Omachi, which is about 30 minutes away. Most on mountain ski accident patients are taken to Shintani Clinic. (0261-754177) English speaking staff are on hand to help out. Credit cards are accepted. For more serious cases, Shintani Clinic will arrange ambulance services to nearby hospitals.
There are international ATMs available in 7-Eleven convenience stores as well as one in the Happo Information Center. These will take foreign issued cards and are open 24 hours. The ATM at the post office will also accept foreign issued cards but is only open during normal postal hours. Even though credit cards are becoming more and more widespread, cash is still the king in Japan. Most restaurants, hotels, ski rental, ski schools will take credit cards. Japan is a relatively safe country, therefore we recommend carrying enough cash with you as a backup if your card is refused.
Hakuba has two post offices one is located near the Hakuba main train station with the other vlose by to Goryu “Kamashiro” train station. Both have international ATMs that accept most international issued cards. Though the post offices are open from Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm the ATMs are opened until 7pm. Japanese post boxes are red with a T mark with a bar across the top. Stamps can also be bought at convenience stores.
Pharmacy Basic medicine, headache & muscle pain relief can be bought over the counter at Ohta Pharmacy. The staff speak English and have medical dictionaries to help you find the most suitable medicine.
Nagano Snow Shuttle (026175-5360) offer reliable direct buses to both Tokyo City Haneda and Narita Airports. Buses leave four times daily from Happo Information Center/ Bus terminal and Hakuba Goryu. Bookings can be made online, through your accommodation or by phone. See back page for timings Alpico Narita Airport Bus have one service to Narita Aiport and two services to Haneda Aiport. The bus has pick ups at Happo Information Center/ Bus terminal, Hakuba Train Station and Goryu. See page 67 for timings.
Buses leaving from Happo, Hakuba Train Station and Goryu Kamashiro Station can be taken to Nagano train station where you can connect with the shinkansen (bullet train) services to Tokyo and around Japan. Shinkansens are frequent from Nagano Station and express trains take about 75 minutes to Tokyo. Buses from Hakuba to Nagano take about 80 minutes, cost 1,800yen one way.
Check out www.hyperdia. com/en/ for shinkansen and other train times within the Japanese rail network.
BACKAGE DELIVERY Travelling on after visiting Hakuba but don’t want to heave your luggage including skis and snowboards around? Why not use the cheap and efficient courier service called “takkyubin” in Japanese. You are able to send your luggage to the airport, which will then be held by the courier company until your flight departure as specified on the luggage tag. When you arrive at the airport, you will have to collect your luggage from the courier company and then check in as normal. Luggage sent from Hakuba to the Tokyo airports, requires to be sent two days before departure. Kuroneko 0261- 72-3811
CAR RENTAL If you are confident about driving on the snow and ice then renting a car is great way of getting first tracks in the powder as well as enjoying some day trips. All rental cars are 4wd and come fitted with snow tyres. All customers wishing to rent will need either a Japanese driver’s license or an international license and passport. Without these cars cannot be rented. Windy Car Rental 0261-72-5382 Hakuba Car Rental 0261-85-0097
RIES SKI・ SNOWBOARD・ WEAR ・ ACCESSO
CHECK OUT MORE DINING & RESTAURANT OPTIONS IN THE HAKUBA DINING GUIDE 76
14:00 - 23:00
SHOOTING FIELD Hakubaâ€™s GENUINE Shooting Range!!
There are lots of ways to spend a day off the slopes in Hakuba. You can sign up for a snowshoe tour and follow some animal tracks. You can try your hand at wearing a kimono and making some soba noodles. You can head over to the Cross Country Stadium and have a go at skiing uphill. You can venture out of town to see cultural sites like Matsumoto Castle or Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City. You could sit and read a book and enjoy the scenery. Or, if youâ€™re a petrolhead and that all sounds a bit tame, you can saddle up on hit the throttle, and go snowmobiling.
The easiest way to join the world of “roopers” is hook up with Lion Adventures and go on one of their snowmobile tours. They will pick you at your accommodation or at a central meeting stop and whisk you across Nagano to the Shiga Kogen area. They have full use of wide ski area complete with groomed cat tracks and usually some deep powder to play in. If necessary, Lion will kit you out in full winter weather gear and a helmet. Ski or snowboard clothing is fine, so you can just bring your own. Given that you’ll be stopping for instruction and orientations, maybe dress a little warmer than normal for skiing. Sturdy boots are also advisable, but snowboard boots will do. Don’t forget your gloves. If you have any questions about gear, Lion will be happy to answer them when you book. Each course starts with a guide taking you through the safety features of Lion’s bright yellow SkiDoos. They are all new and have a top speed of around 60km per hour. The sleds are easy to ride and most beginners master the basics very quickly. The guides will show you how to position your body weight for stability on a slope or over bumpy terrain. Snowmobiles have an automatic gearbox, so there is no clutch and you ride them more like a jetski or a large moped than an actual motorbike. All you have to do is twist the throttle.
Every Mon/Wed/ Fri/Sat@ 7:00PM
Experience the beauty of Hakuba’s snowy forests at night. Stroll along with a local guide and enjoy a delicious chocolate fondue & hot spiced wine under the stars.
Most tours start with the guides getting you to do a few figures of eight at the bottom of the hill. The progression then continues onto some laps of groomed cat tracks on the mountain. Once you’re all fit and able, it’s time to hit the offpiste! Imagine doing that on your first morning skiing. You’d be half buried within seconds! Once off the trails and in powder, the snowmobiles ride like a snowboard or fat skis, all mellow and surfy. As you get the feel of how to ride a sled, you can start to attack more terrain. Lunch is inside the warm lodge at the base of the ski area exclusively used for Lion Adventure. For our trip, they offered us a choice of curry or noodles. It was just the job to warm us up and get us ready for more action. After lunch, it’s back on the sleds for more fun and thrills. As the group gets more proficient, the mountain really starts to open up to you. Once this second session has finished and you’ve made your way back down, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the trip. The guys from Lion finish things off by taking you down the valley to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, home of the world famous Snow Monkeys. After all that high-octane excitement, it’s cool to watch someone else playing in the snow and relaxing in their own onsen. Just make sure you’ve got some memory and power left in your cameras. The little furry fellas are cute as they come and will let you get right up close. They make everyone very snap happy
Snowshoe Tours We offer full day tours into the sub-alpine areas above the resorts and half day tours into the scenic forests and mountains around Hakuba.
Cross Country Tours Cruise and glide on some fantastic nordic ski trails with a friendly and knowledgeable guide. It is great exercise and a nice way to escape the crowds.
Lion Adventure also have a local tour by the riverside along side Hakuba 47 Ski Area. You can enjoy either an hour ride or 30 minute ride single or tandem behind a Lion guide. This is great for beginners before hitting the powder on the day tour.
Feel free to drop by our office at the Wadano no Mori Visitor Center or give us a call.
Over 15 YEARS of quality tours in Hakuba Phn 0261-72-5150
NINJA KIDS CLUB Black-clad figures with muffled faces skitter through a courtyard, swarming over walls like spiders and running lightly across rooftops, quick as cats. An unsuspecting samurai sleeps peacefully as these shadows permanently silence his body guards. The bedroom door slides open without a sound, an up-raised blade glints in the moonlight, and... This is the ninja of the movies and comic books, the stealthy assassin in black robes with magical abilities in the arts of concealment and murder. This wraith-like being is very compelling, to be sure. Now your kids can enjoy being a Ninja right here in Hakuba at the new Ninja Kids Club. Children from 3 to 12 can experience throwing shuriken stars, blow darts and archery all in a Ninja costume. There are two available times, morning 10:00am to 12:00pm and afternoon 1:00pm to 3:00pm. Cost is 3,500yen per child with a free pick up if required. Parents can attend. Children under 3-4 can attend but must be accompained by an adult. Ninja Kids Club is located near to the main Hakuba Train Station. 0261-72-6953
Hakuba HEAT provides the hottest indoor action Hakuba has to offer with its epic airsoft battles and shooting games. Airsoft can best be described as a real life video game using identical scale airguns to battle it out and complete various missions. Set in an old hotel, the battlefield is like something out of a movie where players have the chance to run loose and become the action star of their dreams. Be forewarned, these airguns pack a punch! Those who prefer not to get shot at can still have a blast shooting targets. If itâ€™s fun and action you seek, HEAT is the place to be. Hakuba Heat is located upper Echoland facebook.com/hakubaheat
CULTURAL DAYS KIMONO & TEA CEREMONY When people think of traditional Japanese clothing, kimonos instantly come to mind. The modern day kimono is extremely complex and there is a specific step-by-step process to properly put one on. The friendly professionals will assist you in putting one on, making it extremely easy and hassle free. Come try on a piece of history and experience wearing a traditional kimono for yourself. Included in the morning tour is making of Japanese paper crafts and a tea ceremony. Available for ladies only, Children above 150cm. The tours run every Thursday from 5 Jan to 23 Feb Sanroku Tours 0261-72-6900
SAMURAI SHOW The art of the Samurai lives on and you can experience it nightly in Hakuba during winter. The Samurai show, which includes an all you can eat Korean style barbeque dinner, which itself sounds a must do, features a sword display that will take you back through the ages. Everyone has a chance to try on Samurai body armor or a kimono. You can also try your luck at throwing a Ninja star. All children will receive a Samurai present. Now that is something to brag about when the kids go back to school! This year sees the location moving to near Hakuba Train Station. Pick up is still available Samurai Show 02161-72-6953
CHOCOLATE HEAVEN Do you want to enjoy something with the all family? Then join a snowshoe chocolate fondue tour on one of your free evenings in town – you won’t be disappointed. After getting the right boots and sizing up snowshoes you are off with your guide, who will point out animal tracks and interesting facts. Then it is time to hit the snow-couch and table to tuck into the yummy dessert, chocolate fruit fondue accompanied with hot spiced wine. The most fun is on the return journey running, jumping back down the hill, tripping over your snowshoes and falling face first into the soft snow! Booking can made through Evergreen Outdoor Center 0261-72-5150
Is this the winter sport of the future? With tires twice as wide as mountain bikes, fat bike are made for snow. Fatties as they are called are surprisingly smooth over the snow with a nice crunching sound. They are the 4x4 of cycling. Just be careful of ice… Fat bikes can be rented from Spicy Rental at their new Wadano store as well as Kita–one slopes above Sakka base area on Happo-one.
It is an evening filled with electrifying taiko drumming loud enough to awaken the Gods as anyone who has ever seen a performance will know. Taiko drumming, which dates back to at least the sixth century, is an enormously physical endeavor. As the routine reaches its ear-splitting crescendo, the faces of the drummers contort and eyes bulge with effort, and they emerge at the end with chests heaving and sweat pouring. Then it is your turn to try! While you are riveted to the show, it is difficult to take your eyes away but there is a huge Japanese food buffet to be eaten! Enjoy all the favorites including sushi. If this was not enough, then there is a sake tasting, take your pick at a half a dozen or so local sake varieties. Goryu Night is located inside the Escal Plaza base area of Goryu Ski Area and takes place every Tuesday from January 17th to February 21st. Free pick up is available. Tel 0261-75-2101. If you get through to the gods: Thank them for the snow!
A fantastic way to spend a rest day off the ski slopes of Hakuba and experience more of what the Nagano region has to offer is to take the Snow Monkey Tour. It takes about a 2 hour bus ride to get to the monkey park. Along the way, your guides will engage you with interesting facts about the Nagano area and also have a few funny stories to tell.
The highlight of the tour is seeing the Japanese Macaque monkeys that inhabit the Jigokudani –“Hell’s Valley” Monkey Park and enjoy the hot spring that has been created especially for them. The scenic walk through the forest to this area takes about 20 minutes. Make sure you rug up and wear your ski jacket and warm boots as hell is a very cold place in this instance! You’ll understand why the monkeys are so keen to soak in the hot onsen. Take your camera as you’ll be amazed at how closely you can observe the monkeys. They really are remarkable to watch – and photogenic! It’s easy to get caught up watching them and it can be hard to remember to get back to the bus in time for the drive to the 250 year old Musuichi Sake Brewery where you’ll be having lunch.
The brewery is located in the town of Obuse which has a rich cultural and artistic history. This brewery one of the few that still uses traditional Oke barrels to ferment the Sake. You’ll want to buy a bottle of Sake just for the way they’re beautifully decanted. After you’ve enjoyed a delicious lunch with rice cooked in an old-fashioned wood-burning oven and a taste of the Sake, you can visit the museum of the art works of the famous Japanese artist Hokusai or look around the quaint shops in the town. The final stop of the day takes you to the Zenkoji Buddhist Temple in Nagano City. The temple was built in the 7th century and is said to house the first Buddha statue brought to Japan. The “Hibitsu” which is the secret Buddha is so precious that it’s hidden from the public but a replica is shown every 6 years. The next viewing will
be in 2015 and will attract millions of pilgrims. In the meantime, for a small donation, you can try your luck at finding the “key to paradise” which is attached to the wall of a completely dark corridor under the temple’s prayer chamber. The temple also contains a statue of Binzuru, a physician who was said to be Buddha’s follower. Rubbing the statue is said to cure you of your aches and pains – the spot you rub should correspond to the area that needs healing. A perfect way to finish off the day and ensure that you’re primed for your next big day on the mountain! You’ll be back in Hakuba in time for dinner and an early night if you want to make first tracks the next day.
ONSEN TIME Getting naked, hot and wet with a bunch of total strangers is perhaps the most quintessentially Japanese thing to do. There are several onsen (natural thermal hot springs) scattered the length of the Hakuba Valley. The mineral content of almost every onsen in Hakuba is slightly different, and many onsens use the healing effects of their particular mineral mix in their marketing. A trip to Hakuba is not complete without a trip to the onsen.
HOW TO ONSEN Step 1 Undress slowly and calmly, taking care to fold your clothes and place them neatly in the basket or locker provided. Step 2 Remove your towel from its packaging - it will probably be no bigger than a handkerchief. This towel is meant to hide your genitals, to rub a soapy foam on your body, or to cool your forehead in the hot bath. Step 3 Wash and rinse before you enter the bath - this is done while kneeling or seated on a small stool, and bowls are provided. This is one of the most important steps bathing without first washing yourself is considered the height of rudeness. Scrub like youâ€™ve never scrubbed before.
Step 4 Enter the bath slowly and gradually, especially if you are in a large group. Upon entering the water, you may loudly exclaim your pleasure, and discuss its quality. You will then slowly relax as the hot bath washes over you. Step 5 After a dip, you can then exit the bath to scrub your body (or someone elseâ€™s) once more, until you reach a boiled red or purple color. You may then reenter the bath, and repeat. Step 6 In Japan, one popular post-bath custom is to drink milk, with many onsens selling it. Drinking alcohol immediately after bathing is not recommended (although it doesnâ€™t stop many from doing so); it will dehydrate your body even further.
Chanko-nabe Hot Pot 1,500yen Donburi Rice Bowl 1,000yen
There is no better way to relax & rejuvenate than having a natural thermal onsen. Hakuba Happo Onsens are located at the base of the Hakuba Mountain Ranges they are favored by local residents due to additional health beneďŹ ts of the onsen water which include a high alkalinity pH11.5 making your skin feel soft & supple. Happo no Yu 'GRAND ONSEN', Mimizuku no Yu 'TEA HOUSE & ONSEN', Sato no Yu 'OLD STYLE LOG ONSEN', Obinata no Yu 'NATURAL OUTDOOR ONSEN'.
Private Onsen rental at Obinata is avaiable from 14 Jan ~ 31 Mar free pick up from your hotel.
The rich minerals in the onsen & surrounding beauty are an excellent way to unwind whilst enjoying Japanese ski culture in Hakuba, Happo. For more information http://www.hakuba-happo-onsen.jp
By James Robb
apan is one of the snowiest places on Earth, so it should come as no surprise that the snow that accumulates can pose many difficulties in general daily life, in business and both on and off the resorts. Apart from these difficulties, which are generally manageable in the valley, the huge snowfalls also bring pleasure to folks who pursue powder. Originally in Japan and in Hakuba, there were no resorts, lifts or groomers. Anyone who wanted to ski had to hike up, negotiate mountain terrain and almost always got treated to fresh turns. Now over 100 years later, the equipment has improved, lift accessed runs have developed but the backcountry mountain terrain remains the same. There are still massive avalanche slide-paths, tight V-shaped valleys with overhead exposure and many terrain traps to mention just a few hazards. We do though now have the technologies and universally practiced methods to study, observe and forecast
the conditions where avalanches can occur. Avalanche safety professionals around the world are dedicated to reducing involvements in avalanches and through public information, research and training they promote safe winter backcountry travel. In Japan, with the growing number of recreational backcountry skiers and snowboarders, the same public awareness, avalanche hazard information and training is available. Positively speaking, the shift towards providing useful and appropriate public services for avalanche awareness is still a developing concept here. However, in the past few years the ski resorts in the Hakuba valley have seen the value in providing information and services to the public to aid in safety and fostering awareness. For example, Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort OKâ€™d the installation of an avalanche beacon checkpoint that checks if your beacon is on and sending a signal. If you are heading out
into the backcountry from Tsugaike, it is a great reminder to check your own and your group’s beacons. The Hakuba Tourism Association along with Evergreen Backcountry Guides are also currently seeking the same for the top of Happo-One Resort where people head up into the backcountry. On a national level there isn’t the same available information on avalanche hazard and area forecasting as in North America or Europe, however smaller local organizations like Hakuba’s Avalanche Control Team (ACT) http:// actjapan.org/ has mountain weather station online information and The Japan Avalanche Network (JAN) http:// www.nadare.jp/ offer avalanche bulletins for the Hakuba area and other areas in Japan. There are also lots of useful weather websites that offer information like wind, expected snowfall depths and temperatures for below treeline, treeline and alpine. For the average on-piste skier, all this is extraneous information. However, the ease at which one can enter into off-piste terrain that can potentially be deadly avalanche terrain is
very relevant. Some terrain between runs or just out of the ski area boundary is a tempting treat, though the unknown consequences of treating yourself to them could be severe to you or others below. You can get into a nasty spot without really realizing. And the old adage of “ignorance is bliss” rings true in the avalanche world too, although your bliss might very well be short lived. With this in mind, the concept of providing proper signage, information and safety services to all guests on the mountain is essential. As the Hakuba ski community grows and becomes more avi-savy and the resorts offer more information to the public, we hope to minimize risk in avalanche terrain while at the same time encouraging safe backcountry touring. Be safe, be respectful of the mountains and others and happy sliding! James Robb is a tour director with Evergreen Outdoor Center and long time local resident.
POWDERMANIA’S Patrick Fux is a backcountry skier & photographer based in the Hakuba Valley during winter. Patrick let us have a look into his backpack to see what he carries when he is outside to the resorts’ boundaries. Check out Patrick’s pictures on facebook. com/powdermania
1. Atomic Bent Chetler with Marker kingpin binding: A great ski for everything you can experience in the backcountry. 2. Julbo Symbios: Lots of ventilation in the helmet, which helps not only when it is warm but also when you have to hike for an hour or so. 3. Canon 7D: With over seven frames per second the camera ensures that you never miss that one shot that you need in a sequence. 4. Canon 18-200 lens: With some shots I need to get in pretty close while others I can stay back on another ridge. This lens is a workhorse that lets me do both. A little heavy but it is worth the extra weight. 5.Canon Fisheye 8-15: Perfect lens for snowy Cortina days in the trees where you take that
shot in the deep powder as well as incorporating the surroundings into the shot. 6.Swiss Brand Sunglass: Sometimes the sun comes out in Hakuba……then I need my sunnies. Also great for the long hikes when goggles are too cumbersome. 7. Sony DSC-RX100 IV: On days when I am not going out to do photograph but see something that makes me wish that I had my Canon, the Sony is a great go to camera. 8. Uvex Goggles: I always take a spare pair in case of fogging up, freezing or maybe a friend forgetting theirs. 9.Mammut Avalanche Backpack: Touch wood that I never need to use it (again), but the airbag is that extra safety feature that could mean the difference of life or death.
10.Hand Saw: To cut off skiers hands…only kidding, I use it to cut branches that maybe in the way of a good shot. Or make a snow profile to check the snow stability. 11.Stock: Wide baskets, so they don’t sink into the deep snow. 12.Insulation Mat: When I a perched on a ridge waiting for the riders to come, I need to sit on the snow without getting wet and cold. Will also come in useful if a rider was injured and needs to stay warm. 13.First Aid Kit: Whether it is a little cut or something more serious, it is always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit. Pain killers as well for obvious reasons. 14.Skins: For those long hikes, you need skins on the bottom of your skis to give you trac-
tion in the snow. 15.Walkie Talkies: Great for communicating with the riders on where to go and turn. Also maybe required in an emergency if someone is injured. Make sure you have Japanese frequencies as they may interfere with official channels. 16.Headlamp: As the sun goes down earlier during winter, it is always a good idea to carry an headlamp just in case you are out longer than expected. 17.Rescue Blanket. Make sure to have one (ARVA) made for low temp and not the 100 yen supermarket version. 18.Duct Tape: This tape fixes nearly everything! 19.Splint: Ideal for stabilizing injuries. 20.Bivvy Sack: Survival protection for the unexpected night out.
21.Rope About 10m: The backcountry can have crevasses or glide cracks you never know when you might have to help others get out. 22.Avy Beacon: Donâ€™t leave the resort boundaries without one. In the event of an avalanche you need to locate or be located as soon as possible. 23.Shovel: Again essential kit required out of the resort. Digging someone out or making a snow profile. Make sure it is metal and not plastic. Plastic becomes brittle especially in winter. 24.Down Jacket: Extra layer for those cold days waiting for the riders to come into view. 25.Avalanche Probe: After using the beacon, a probe is required to do a fine search to locate someone buried deep in the snow.
At Hakuba Connect we live and breathe skiing and snowboarding. The staff are out there throughout the valley nearly every day of the season. Skiing and riding takes skill, the more you have the more places you can access. We have put together a few of our favorite places.
GROOMED If you love the feel of high “Gs”, quick short or even long turns then Tsugaike Kogen’s perfectly groomed wide slopes are ideal. In fact one slope Kanenonaruoka course is an amazing 1200m wide! You can ride top to the base on all intermediate and beginner slopes at Tsugaike. For a challenge can you ski top to bottom without stopping? Iwatake: At the gondola take skiers right on South Course, it’s another wide course with fabulous views looking down the Hakuba Valley and the mountains behind. Happo-one: Hakuba’s favorite course, Riesen Slalom, is like a high speed expressway early morning with a mixture of instructors, locals and speed enthusiasts getting in early turns. Hakuba 47: Route One is great steep groomer, that can be extended to the base area. Hakuba Goryu: In the evening the pistes are groomed and reopened at 6pm for night skiing on the corduroy.
TREE SKIING For many skiers and snowboarders, tree skiing is the holy grail of winter fun. When you enter a glade you leave behind the noise and commotion of a busy resort and enter an entirely tranquil world. Hakuba Cortina with its mixture of tree species, lightness of snow and perfect pitch is one of the valley’s wonders! Be warned though, the terrain in the ski boundary is not patrolled and in the event of an accident you are liable for costs. If an area is closed off then it is closed for a reason. Iwatake: The east faces offer some good tree skiing with more opening up this winter season Hakuba 47: In recent years Hakuba 47 have been operating their Double Black Diamond, sign in and grab a bib before you hit the trees. The pitch is steep and challenging. Tsugaike Kogen: From the top of the gondola, take the Tsuga No2 chair and enjoy the trees directly under the chairlift.
Most of the rental stores carry different style of skis and boards that will suit your ability and the conditions that you will want to ride. We recommend wearing a helmet all the time you are out on the slopes.
For improvement book a ski or snowboard lesson. Sometimes you pick up habits that are hard to get out of, a few hours in a lesson could improve your skiing or riding 10 fold!
POWDER Even though most of the valley resorts may post
From beginners who have never been in a terrain park to experts getting ready for the X-Games, the Hakuba Valley has terrain features to suit everyone. Hakuba 47 with the valley’s only half pipe stands out head and shoulders above the competition, A dedicated park chairlift will let you complete lap after lap, though it does get a little busy on the weekends. Iwatake: On the north side the flowing rails and jumps will keep beginners and intermediates happy all day. Tsugiake Kogen: HIT Park has some larger jumps and is usually quiet throughout the day. Kashimayari: The Nakatsuna-ko base area has a few different obstacles and rails that are fun and are inside the night skiing area so stay open when the sun goes down. Happo-one: Happo Banks at Kita-one opens a little later in the season and as the name suggests you can get some good air off the numerous banks.
30cm on a deep powder day, head north to the valley’s powder capitals the linked resort of Hakuba Cortina and Hakuba Norikura; they will probably be reporting 50cm! This is deep snow, we kid you not, snorkel-deep! At Hakuba Cortina with its bowl setting you have a choice of both sides, though skiers left opens slightly later than the right side. At Hakuba Norikura head over to Snow View Course, the wide course on skiers left for the deepest powder. Happo-one: Enjoy the rolling Skyline Course. Tsugaike: Stay high for the steepest slopes, lower down the gradient is gentle and you might get stuck. Hakuba Goryu/Hakuba47 – The Adventure Course that links both resorts usually opens late but enjoy it when it does! Kashimayari: When the snow comes from the south, usually 2 or 3 times a season then head south to Kashi for the deepest snowfall.
Explore the Hakuba Valley with Evergreen.
Hakuba Valley, Nagano, Japan
Evergreen International Ski School is the largest international ski and snowboard school of the region, boasting Hakuba’s best facilities and most progressive programs designed specifically for kids. Big kids (Hero’s program) love to explore Hakuba on skis or boards, our Yeti’s (3-6 year old skiers) have their own Kids Centre and learning park as well as magic carpet, while our daycare facility has both indoor and outdoor play areas.
Evergreen International Ski School has the whole family covered with excellent programs for Mum and Dad from beginners to advanced (and even back country). Come and enjoy the Evergreen difference in a fun and safe environment with our friendly and professional staff. Our team and programs are designed to enhance your family winter holiday here in Hakuba, Japan.
Hey Kids, learn to ski with me here in Hakuba. Ikimashou... Let’s Go! • Yuki Club (3-6yrs) • Hakuba Hero’s (7-14yrs) • Daycare (from 18mths)
• Ski & Board Lessons • Group & Private • Race Programs
Call 0261-72-3200 www.skischool-hakuba-japan.com firstname.lastname@example.org
• Backcountry Tours • Resort Guiding • Snowshoe Tours
To the south of the valley and serviced by free shuttle buses, Kashmayari is one of the new members to the Hakuba Valley group. Kashimayrai takes its name from the mountain peak directly behind the resort.
Spounge Bob Snow Camp will keep them happy for hours with a magic carpet, hoops and slides. For the older kids, there is a good intermediate park at the Kizakiko base area serviced by either the No.6 Quad or the No.8 Pair
The area is serviced by eight lifts with a respectable verti- Intermediates cal of 720m. Kashimayari has A favorite run is to take the 1 two â€œbaseâ€? areas depending Quad lift followed by the 10 on which direction you ar- Pair lift to the top of the rerive from. If you are arriving sort. After taking from Hakuba then you the obligatowill arrive at the Lake ry photoLifts 8 Kizakiko base. On graphs, Courses 22 the way past p u t the lake make Elevation 720m t h e sure you try to Beginner 40 catch a look at the ice fishing Intermediate 45 that happens Advanced 15 when the lake camfreezes over. If Longest course 5000m e r a you are coming away www.kashimayari.net from the south a n d 0261-23-1231 the quickest way is h e a d to take the road that down Route 1 cuts through the mountain or Route 15 coursand ends at the middle sta- es. These are fast groomed tion base area, Central Plaza. courses that will make you The Central-Plaza itself is a feel like a ski racer. great area to base yourself and meet up for lunch. From Advanced here you can in every direcFor powder lovers, turn left tion. The plaza houses restauoutside the mid-station buildrants serving the usual skiers ing and jump on the No.5 fare including a Sponge Bob Pair lift. There are a couple Family Space area. The plaza of courses through the uneven has its own accommogroomed down to mid-stadation, great for getting first tion. Be warned that after a tracks in the morning. few days without snow, this course becomes a serious Beginners mogul field. For beginners, head skiers Night skiing is available evright for the long cat track ery evening with good vertidown to the mid station. cal from Central-Plaza all the For the younger kids, the way down to Kizaki Base.
The linked resorts of Hakuba Goryu and Hakuba 47 form Hakuba’s most popular hill in terms of visitor numbers. Both resorts can be ridden using the same lift ticket.
Orientation Hakuba 47 has a single base area with a large, free car park. From here, the distinctive dark- green gondola takes you on a short journey alongside the kickers and the half-pipe to midmountain. A short run to skiers’ right takes you to the quad lift, Line C and from there, it’s a final short hop on the Line E pair to the resort top and the Goryu slopes. Goryu has two base areas named Toomi and Iimori. The former is home to the gondola that shoots up to the resort top in a single ride. What could be easier? The other lifts only reach partway up the mountain. Wide beginner runs starting from the slope above the Toomi base take you down to the Iimori base. This is home to a kids’ area and some intermediate slopes.
Beginners On the 47 side, ride the mid-mountain courses next door to the park or better still shoot up to the top lift linking 47 with Goryu. At Goryu, beginners are spoilt for choice with the long slope above
the Toomi base and many gentle runs over towards the Iimori side that Lifts 19 many
of the gondola with great snow and three lifts to keep you moving.
Courses 23 Elevation 926m
Routes 2 and 3 off the quad at 47 both exceed Beginner 35 30 degrees, Intermediate 40 with the latter mostly unAdvanced 25 groomed. At Longest course: Goryu, simply Hakuba Goryu 5000m do laps top to Hakuba 47 6400m bottom off the http://goryu47.com gondola, taking Goryu 0261-75-2101 the Champion Iimori 0261-75-2636 Hakuba 47 0261-75-3533 peoExpert and not the ple tend switchbacks. Also at to miss. Goryu, the upper Alps Skiers who are just Daira slope is wide and unstarting out should really groomed. Lap it up! head over this way
Hakuba 47 has Hakuba’s best terrain park, with a well-maintained half pipe, kickers that range from small to veritably huge, and a selection of rails and boxes. Two parallel lifts let you hit it again and again. 47’s park is popular with local seasonaires who often can’t make first lifts due to work on the breakfast shift. Get up there early and the lineups will usually be short.
Night Skiing Goryu offers night skiing every evening until 10pm on the run above the Toomi base.
Intermediates At 47, a top-to bottom run down Route 1 from the top of the quad offers about 600 meters of vertical at a steady 20-25 degree pitch. Due to its overall northeasternly orientation, this course is usually rideable to the base even at the resort’s closing in May! Goryu has a wide intermediate slope at the top www.hakubaconnect.com
Happo-One (pronounced “oh-nay”) is Hakuba’s oldest, largest and most central ski hill. Happo offers riders a leg-burning thousand meters of top to bottom skiing with stunning views of Hakuba’s three symbolic peaks Host to the men’s and women’s blue ribbon downhill and super giant slalom events at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Happo is the one hill not to miss in Hakuba.
Orientation Nakiyama - Home to the Olympic Ski Jump and the Happo Ski School. SHIRAKABA - Adam Gondola, the fastest way up the mountain. KOKUSAI - Access to Lower Wadano (Tokyu, Mominoki Hotels), Evergreen Ski School. SAKKA – Sakka kids Park area, access to Upper Wadano (La Neige etc.), Happo Freestyle Park. Lifts rise from all four areas to two midmountain zones, Usagidaira and Kurobishi, and then run alongside the resort’s steepest courses to a single ridge. The four or five main courses down from mid-mountain are linked; look out for the signs and try to carry some speed
because the tracks between them have little gradient. Make sure you end the day at the right area, because it can be a long walk Lifts 22 home.
where conditions vary from great fun to genuinely hairraising!
Try your hand at the 1998 WinCourses 13 ter Olympic men’s and Elevation 1071m ladies Beginner 30 downhill coursIntermediate 50 es. The Olympians Advanced 20 (except Longest course 8000m famously Herman Maiwww.happo-one.jp er) finished in 0261-72-3066 about two minutes. See how long it takes you. Powder Hounds Beginners Beginners first come, first served! The should head out to the Sakka upper part of Happo is mostarea where the gentle slopes ly ungroomed, so get yourwill get you linking turns in self on the gondola when it no time at all. There is the opens. Catch the Alpen lift Snow Chao kids’ area with a up to the Pilar Café and hit magic carpet, tobaganning, Usagidaira slopes. and a banked tubing course
Advanced Try your hand at the 1998 Winter Olympic men’s and ladies downhill courses. The Olympians (except famously Herman Maier) finished in about two minutes. See how long it takes you. Powder Hounds first come, first served! The upper part of Happo is mostly ungroomed, so get yourself on the gondola when it opens. If you see one of the Kurobishi lifts moving (the longer one seems to run mainly at weekends now), head over to that side but watch out for buried moguls! Cruise past the restaurant there and down Skyline for some of the best powder that Hakuba has to offer. Get your breath back on the lift before you embark on another slide through the powder wonderland!
Hakuba Iwatake stands on its own mountain in front of the extended Japan Alps range. Unlike the other Hakuba resorts, the snowfield, literally drops over the back side and has slopes on all points of the compass.
Beginners can stay low or take the gondola and ride a number of courses with lifts back up to the summit restaurant but most beginners will have to take the gondola back down.
Intermediate riders should be able to enjoy the whole hill. From the resort top, there is only one way down to the base – follow the signs and check the map if visibility is poor. Midway there is the
“Corridor”, a flat section where slower skiers and riders should stay left to allow others to pass.
Advanced The resort has a number of powder pockets that do not see the same traffic as at the big boys nearby. The
resort has moved away from grooming all its courses and now leaves several areas to lay down some tracks. Due to the high proportion of snowboarders in the resort’s clientele, Iwatake remains almost completely free of the moguls you will find in ungroomed areas elsewhere. A number of park items are also provided along another easily-missed course, this time to lookers’ right of the restaurant at the top.
Locals Knowledge A ride on the gondola gets you to Iwatake’s summit, from which courses radiate out in all directions. Easiest to miss is the Resort View area that is accessed by a cat track off to the left as you get off the quad lift. This area provides quite varied terrain and great views of the Hakuba peaks.
Tsugaike has top-to-bottom vertical that rivals Happo One, but more gradual gradients that offer extended runs to a greater range of abilities.
Tsugaike’s biggest draw is the expansive beginner area at the bottom where ten lifts service Hakuba’s widest piste. When not buried in powder, this area offers a nice easy introduction to sliding on snow.
er resorts’ ungroomed areas between storms. Tsugaike provides smooth respite to those who struggle in the bumps. You can really open it up and let the scenery fly by.
A fine snowpark is built near the resort’s summit late in the season - there’s too First is a short hop over much snow to do it earlier! very gentle slopes to a The HIT park is locatmid-mountain area ed further down where you can Lifts 22 on the midjump on or dle slopes. off, or more Courses 11 Heli-skiing likely stay Elevation 904m is available on to from early Beginner 40 reach the March! higher Intermediate 40 upper Advanced 20 area. From Longest course 6000m Locals there you Knowlwww.tsugaike.gr.jp can take a 0261-83-2515 edge number of Expert skiers and routes down to riders are best off skiers’ right or take hiring a guide and hiking a further lift up to the main above the resort. We’re not ridge course. Tsugaike has going to say where, but great a further area north of the options lie just a short bootgondola to lookers’ right, pack away. The combination originally a separate ski area. of high snowfall, high winds, It tends to be very quiet. and fluctuating temperatures Almost all of Tsugaike’s termakes this genuine avarain is groomed, which may lanche terrain, we strongly disappoint powder hounds, recommend hiring a guided but means hardly any of the backcountry service moguls that develop on oth-
Advanced Hakuba Norikura has a good sized park Lifts 10 for freestlyers and shred Courses 18 fashioners to strut Elevation 600m their Beginner 30 stuff. It can get Intermediate 50 a little Advanced 20 crowded and very Longest course 2500m colorful www.hakubanorikura.jp on the weekends. Norikura shares Cortinaâ€™s mighty snowfall and extends for a very respectable 600 meters of vertical up the ridge it shares with Cortina.
Hakuba Norikura is linked to its neighbouring resort, Hakuba Cortina, which can be ridden using the same pass if you buy the combined resort ticket. We think this is a must as it doubles the terrain that you can enjoy. Make sure you ask for the combined ticket when purchasing.
Beginners A number of shorter lifts are also aligned along the wide foothills. Thereâ€™s a great choice for beginners and those who may not have ridden fresh soft snow before.
Intermediates Hakuba Norikura is a weekend warrior kind of place, thus making the combination of lots of space, lots of snow, and the lack of crowds that
can be found at the larger resorts providing a great stage for building up confidence. There are two parts to the base area Satomi on lookers right and Wakakuri on the left.
Locals Knowledge Many visitors to Hakuba do not give Norikura much of a thought, but we think it could be the valleyâ€™s most underrated resort. When combined with Cortina, it certainly offers a lot of different options.
Hakuba Cortina Ski resort rises behind the imposing Bavarian-style Green Plaza Hotel with its criss-crossed black beamwork and large red roof. You will never lose your bearings while skiing here!
Beginners Above the hotel itself extends a long central beginner run with a dedicated beginners/ kids snow park. In fact even though Hakuba Cortina is loved by powder hounds there is still plenty of areas for beginners to progress.
Intermediates A favorite run is to take the 1 Quad lift followed by the 10 Pair lift to the top of the resort. After taking the obligatory photographs, put the camera away and head down the route 1 or route 15 courses. These are fast groomed courses that will make you feel like a true ski racer.
heaviest snowfall, Cortina is also famous for having the steepest pistes, one of which averages 36 degrees and touches 42 degrees in places. The resort operates a self-responsibility code with resort visitors riding the trees at their own risk. At Hakuba Connect, we applaud this progressive approach, we love riding their terrain, and we urge all readers to respect the few rules they have. If they mark an area as out-ofbounds or closed, it will be for a reason. For the more adventurous Cortina also has three gates to access the backcountry, though standard backcountry rules apply.
As the closest resort to For lunch, the mountain the sea, Cortina regularly has five restaurants records the highto choose from. est amount of Warabi dishes Lifts 8 snowfall in up large Courses 17 the valley. It helpings to doesnâ€™t just Elevation 530m satisfy the snow at hungriest Beginner 40 Cortina, of skiers it dumps! Intermediate 30 and ridWhen ers. Best Advanced 30 Hapknown is po-One Longest course 3500m the hotelâ€™s and Goryu www.hakubacortina.jp ground up the valley floor restau0261-82-2236 will report rant where they 20cm of fresh give you a pizza snow, Cortina will probbase and let you pile on the ably receive about 50cm! toppings yourself to make Not content with having your very own pizza. Kids the valleyâ€™s largest hotel and will love it. www.hakubaconnect.com
Beautiful modern open concept cottages Minutes walk to many restaurants and AprĂ¨s ski locations Car parking available Complementary pick up and drop off
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Hakuba Mominoki Hotel Phone +81(0)261-72-5001 Fax +81(0)261-72-5520 www.mominokihotel.com email@example.com
he word “Kanazawa” (金沢), which basically stands for “golden marsh”, is said to originate from the fable of Imohori Togoro who was plowing for potatoes when chips of gold came up to the surface. In fact almost all of the gold leaf utilized in Japan come from Kanazawa. In a few shops you can be given tea having speckles of gold inside. It is apparently good for vivacity and health! Kanazawa is one of the top destinations for Japanese visitors, but is hardly known outside the country. Sandwiched between the Japan Alps and the Sea of Japan, peaks engraved on the skyline like a milieu to a stage, Kanazawa is actually off the beaten track. Kanazawa was at one time the fourth biggest and flourished city of ancient times. And is frequently compared to Kyoto, for its riches of ancient buildings having been spared by tsunamis and earthquakes and having got away from the World War II air attacks that devastated many Japanese cities. Kanazawa was under the control of one clan for around 300 years. This clan was the Maeda family, and, controlled the places which you can still picture being in existence a couple of centuries ago. For instance, the Higashi Pleasure District is the only place outside Kyoto which has geishas. The conventional structural design of low roofs of glinting curved black tiles, gauzily patterned facades (easy to see out, but not in) - is unaffected. Geishas in ghost-white faces and intricate kimonos can be spotted, or heard practicing their songs and instruments - the threestringed shamisen or even a drum. The Samurai region of Nagamachi is nearly entirely the same as it was since feudal times. Paved roads, amazingly free of the typical spaghetti interweave of overhead cables that frequent over Japanese towns and citiies are refreshingly absent in this area of Kanazawa. Near to the canal, with its sliding paper doors, uncluttered interiors, meditatively peaceful garden and tatami straw mats, with carp swimming in soothingly trickling waters is the Nomura family house, and is a peaceful abode for the residence of a
warrior. On show is a thank you letter, from the 16th century, addressed to Nomura for executing a high-ranking soldier, which says ‘We are very happy that you brought us his head’. Over the iron bridge straddling one of Kanazawa’s two rivers is Teramachi (‘temple town’), a calm commune of shrines and temples, and congregations of sculptures with red bibs, which are memorials to children. But the main tourist lure is Kenrokuen, which was once part of the 18th Century palace, some of which still remains, and now is one of the three stunning gardens of Japan. Gyokusenen Garden is a more serene, and a bit smaller family-owned garden, in which there are zigzag paths under trees, moss-covered stone lanterns, waterfalls and rivulets. Kanazawa is also home to healthy cuisine, particularly seafood. The stalls at Ohmicho market are loaded with an array of seafood mostly crabs, tuna, oysters, squid and eels. It was a refuge of harmony, although situated a culture spar - only one block from a shopping street where you will discover a throng of international stores. A “chaya” is a house where guests take pleasure in buffets and traditional Japanese performances, such as live performances of Japanese instruments, like the shamisen or the koto, and the Japanese dance. The areas where there are numerous chaya is known as “chayamachi”. There are 3 well-known chayamachi in Kanazawa, and the Higashi Chayamachi is the biggest of all. Higashi Chayamachi has also been delegated as a Japanese artistic asset. In the Higashi Chayamachi, there is a house known as “Shima”. Shima has also been delegated as a national imperative cultural asset. At Shima, everything has been kept in the same way as it was in the ancient period of japan, so you can actually feel the history. Tourists are persuaded to take part in the local crafts, also the tourist office offers sessions for making miniature dolls from cloth, tote bags and newspaper. You can be trained to adorn bowls or chopsticks by making use of gossamer-thin squares of gold leaf. The shinkansen “Kagayaki” takes merely 1 hour from Nagano City to Kanazawa, which is one of the most stunning cities in Japan.
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