Nagano Ski Safari

Japan Holidays

Expert Opinion Our Expert
Andrea Selig

"Indulge the senses and discover a new culture with our 14-day Nagano Ski Safari which covers the resorts of Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen, and the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, all on the mainland of Japan."

Safari Details

Resorts & Cities

Driving Times

Kyoto Tokyo - Kyoto 2.5 hrs
Nozawa Onsen Kyoto - Nozawa Onsen 4.5 hrs
Hakuba Nozawa Onsen - Hakuba 4.5 hrs
Tokyo Hakuba - Tokyo 4.5 hrs

We can tailor-make an itinerary to include any combination of resorts and cities that you wish, for any duration. Below, however, we’ve detailed our full 14 night itinerary including both resorts and both cities – it is best done using a Japan Rail Pass, which covers travellers for 14-days of unlimited rail travel including the Shinkansen Bullet Train.

You will be covering quite long distances on this trip with some of the transfers between resorts or cities taking up to half a day. One way to maximize ski time and reduce costs is to miss out Kyoto.

Sample 14-night itinerary

Day 1:

Overnight flight to Japan

Days 2-3:

Arrive in Tokyo in the morning and hop on the bullet train down to the temple city of Kyoto. This allows you a day and a half to explore Japan’s former imperial capital.

Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in Japan, and with more than 1,000 temples it is no wonder that it is known as the temple capital of the world. Kyoto is in an inland basin, with hills bordering the city - the train station is conveniently located in the centre and the TV tower right next to it acts as a good compass. One temple ends up looking a bit like another after a while, so limit yourself to a few and mix it up by visiting the Geisha district of Gion, or by strolling down the Pontocho restaurant alley lined with traditional Japanese eateries. Some of my favourite temples include Fushimi Inari Shrine (for the Tori Gates), Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Kiyomizu Dera (shrine with excellent views over Kyoto and great souvenir shops).

Days 4-6:

Take the bullet train again and transfer to Nagano City. From here take a local train to Nozawa Onsen. Spend the evening scoping out the village, and maybe getting your rentals sorted out so that you’re ready to go early the next day. You would then have two full days to ski the mountain. If you are not staying at either the Jon Nobi or Sakaya Ryokans, I would recommend heading to one of these in the evening and spending the £8 to use the fantastic onsen (hot spring) facilities.

Nozawa Onsen was one of the original ski resorts in Japan and is a great place to spend a few days or up to a week. The quaint village is nestled at the base of the mountain and whilst it may be small, it by no means lacks facilities or excitement – the centre is a bustling hub of shops and restaurants and public onsens, which are easily identified by the steam creeping out from all sides of the building. The villagers are extremely welcoming, and it is not unfamiliar to end up in the local Karaoke bar with some locals at some point during your stay! If your stay happens to fall over 15 February you will be lucky enough to catch the famous Dosojin Fire Festival, a spectacular event which builds up over a few days culminating in the public burning of a purpose erected wooden shrine and lots of free sake! Also take an afternoon off to visit the Snow Monkey Park – an hour’s drive from the village and a must see whilst in Japan.

Days 7-11:

Transfer from Nozawa Onsen to Hakuba where you have four full days to ski the resort. I would recommend spending one or two of these days away from the main Happo-One mountain exploring the Tsugaike mountain on day and the interconnected Hakuba47 and Goryu mountains on the other.

Hakuba - the Hakuba Valley boasts a number of ski fields, which can all be easily accessed using the convenient shuttle service that runs between the mountains. Hakuba town itself is quite spread out - most of the hotels, bars and restaurants are at the base of the ski hills. The main mountain is Happo-One, with the interconnected ski areas of Goryu and Hakuba47 a 10 minute shuttle ride away. 15-minutes in the other direction and you’ll find Tsugaike.

Days 12-14:

The last few days should be spent in Tokyo, where you can experience a final blast of culture and shopping. I would recommend heading to Omotesando, where you can see some amazing displays in the window of shops such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and more. The Oriental Bazaar can also be found here, and you can pick up great Japanese kimonos, yukatas and chinaware. You can also head down the ‘Cat Street’ in Jingumae, just off the main Omotesando drag. Here you will find the flagship stores for a lot of outdoor brands such as Patagonia, Burton, Mammut and many more. However if you are looking for really cheap ski/snowboarding gear, head to Jimbotcho (closest station Ochanomizu), an area where shop after shop attempt to undercut each other with the latest gear, or last season’s equipment at the lowest prices!

Disneyland is a must for families. If you happen to be spending a day in Tokyo on a Saturday or Sunday I would highly recommend a stroll through Yoyogi Park, where you can catch a glimpse of everyday life in Japan – whether they’re walking their dressed dogs, dancing dressed as Elvis, or having a boozy picnic with friends. Shinjuku is the business district, a ride up the government towers gives you the best views over Tokyo, or venture to the seedier “Kabukicho” red light district. There is something for everyone in Tokyo!

Day 15:

Mid morning flight back to the UK- you’ll arrive back on the same day!

Top tip

When you’ve arrived at the airport in Tokyo and have your own skis, send them ahead to your first resort by the luggage delivery service ‘Takyuubin’ – you will see this post-office style counter on exiting arrivals. This is a widely used service - you hardly see any Japanese people carrying luggage, as they will always forward it! By the time you arrive in resort your ski bag will be waiting for you, and at the end of your time skiing you can send it straight back to Tokyo Airport, where they hold it for you until departure.  This service costs approximately £15 per ski bag and takes up 2 days for delivery, so this is useful if you’re spending time in a city before or after your skiing time (as with our itinerary above).

Price Guide

The above 14 night itinerary starts from £1,825 pp in March based on 2 people sharing a room in the following accommodations:

2 nights Kyoto - 4* Granvia Kyoto (room only)
3 nights Nozawa Onsen - 3* Kiriya Ryokan (B&B)
5 nights Hakuba - 4* Phoenix Hotel (B&B)
3 nights Tokyo - 3* Shiba Park Hotel (room only)

Price includes return flights with British Airways and a 14-day Japan rail pass.

A 10 night itinerary in March costs from £1,675 pp, based on 2 sharing:

4 nights Hakuba - 4* Phoenix Hotel (B&B) Hakuba
3 nights Nozawa Onsen - 3* Kiriya Ryokan (B&B)
2 nights Tokyo - 3* Shiba Park (room only)

Price includes return flights with British Airways and a 5-day Japan East rail pass.

Click here to request a quotation tailored to your particular requirements, or please call Andrea on 01273 224 062.

NaganoSkiSafariMap

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