japan travel tips
The Hyperdia website is an absolute gem. Use it to plan your route using rail to Hakuba or when traveling anywhere else in Japan.
Hakuba has only 3 ATM's for international travel or credit cards. It's a wise to grab some cash at the bank ATM at the airport upon arrival, the CITIBANK ATM usually is the best. Our bar and kitchen only accepts cash.
English in Japan
From the minute you arrive in either Tokyo(Narita\Haneda) or Osaka(Kansai) you'll find that English signs are common and English is spoken by most staff at the tourist information stands. If you are taking the Narita Express rail line from Narita into Tokyo and Shinkasen onto Nagano you should not have any issues getting around as English signage is standard. Same applies to Osaka trains, just follow the signs - you'll be fine and it is an adventure anyway!
Weather in Hakuba
Being in an alpine region its not unusual to receive +60cm snowfall overnight or for temps to be low as -20ºc at the lodge. You will need to be prepared with decent clothing & equipment. When on the mountains use waterproof outer shells, good quality warm gloves, double lens goggles and wear layers to give you options if you do need to cool down. Thermals are recommended also, as everyone feels the cold differently you're better off being warmer than not. Even around Hakuba in the evening, when you may be walking to restaurants or bars, a nice down jacket and waterproof boots will come in handy.
Does this need explaining? Snow sports are fun but can be dangerous also, invest in an insurance policy before taking your vacation. It should cover cancellations to accommodation, transfers on top of the usual medical & injury cover. Please don't come to Hakuba without one, and double check you are covered for snow sports. If you are planning on a week or more of off-piste or back country skiing, you require separate more defined insurance, check out the Austrian Alpine Club of UK.
If you want to have your gear sent through to Hakuba from the airport while you spend a few days in Tokyo or Osaka, use the Yamato or signed as a Black Cat luggage service. It will usually take 24 hours for your gear to arrive at our door in Hakuba, the benefit is you won't have to cart it around with you. The cost is quite reasonable also (around ¥2,500 per ski bag). We are a agent for this company so we can send your gear back to the airport also.