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Getting around Hakuba

By Kalin, Hakuba 2013-14

Despite not being the infrastructural miracle that Tokyo is (with its trains departing on the minute… EVERY minute), Hakuba is a place that is surprisingly both easy to navigate and cheap to travel around!

In terms of cost, getting around Hakuba is very cheap. Most resorts provide free shuttle buses to almost everywhere. Whether this is just down the hill so you can get to a convenience store, or all the way to the other side of Hakuba there is usually a bus that departs at least every 2 hours. On top of that the drivers are very kind and you can always negotiate special drop offs and pick-ups with them!

As a quick example, simply because I wanted to go for a quick bite out in Hakuba central I hopped on the bus bound for Hakuba station. When I was hopping off I asked the driver if there was a return bus. Apparently there wasn’t one but he offered to just come and pick me up on the way back of one of his runs if I gave him a time, so I did. Sure enough after I’d finished eating he was right back at the station at the planned time and I got to Hakuba central and back without spending a single yen!

As I just mentioned, there is even a free bus to Hakuba Station. Hakuba station is your hub to the rest of Nagano, which in turn is your hub to the rest of Japan if you feel like going for a big trip! Given that you have these buses, you could easy get to the station, buy a ticket to Nagano-city for around 2000 yen, and see all the sights of the prefectural capital! Please note however that the trains are not as convenient as they are in Tokyo! (if that’s what you are used to!) In some cases they only come every 2 hours and on particular days they don’t come at all, so make sure to do your homework first!

Other places you can visit via bus are of course the other ski resorts! If you’re a keen skier/boarder then you’ll love this shuttle bus system, you can get from Goryuu, to Iimori, to Hakuba 47, to Happo One, and back all from the same bus station right outside the Resort. You can even get as far as Tsugaike from taking the aforementioned Hakuba station bus and then hoping on the Tsugaike shuttle bus! It may not be the same as Tokyo’s train system, but it sure is more relaxed, cheaper, and comes with even friendlier service!

Well aside from taking buses and trains there’s always the alternative… LEGS! Yes, most of us are born with those! Along with being free, walking also provides things that ‘conventional’ transport never can. There are so many places inaccessible by bus or train, so go on an adventure! I spent the greater portion of my first month doing just this and ended up seeing many great things that others missed… despite these things being right under their noses!

I saw temples, found natural hot springs, made new friends, discovered great food joints, and all sorts of other amusing things! Hakuba’s an area that on sight may not look like something that’s jam packed with things to do, but mark my words! Get off the main road and have a look around and you will find something new and interesting. I did and have many a tale and picture to show for it!

One last method of getting around Hakuba is a little less set in stone, but while working in Hakuba you are bound to make many, many friends. These friends may be from work, the slopes, or even the pub but at least one of them is going to have a car. The Japanese people are extremely well known for their generosity and so more often than not your friends will be more than happy to give you rides to places all over Hakuba. (So long as you aren’t asking too much! Be realistic!)

As you can see, Hakuba is actually a really easy place to get around and there a few good methods too! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find yourself an adventure!

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