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has anyone been to Hakuba

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We are looking to goto Hakuba in Japan this February and I am soliciting views on the destination. At the moment I can find lots on Niseko but little on the Hakuba area. One item in particular that I would like some advice on is: should we take our own skis? We will be skiing for 9 days so at a quoted £30 per day ski hire seems rather expensive. I’m sure ski transport on KLM/Air France is less than this but is there any problems on transporting skis on the Shinkansen as well as lugging them through the Tokyo metro (we are planning a couple days in Tokyo as well)?
All views and experiences greatly appreciated.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I've been to Nagano, but only in the summer!

If you're bringing your own skis, transporting them is really easy - use Takkyubin, a courier service offered by a couple of companies. They have kiosks at major airports, so drop them off when you arrive and they'll be sent to your hotel in Hakuba. Same at the end of your trip back to the airport.

https://www.kanpai-japan.com/travel-guide/takkyubin-sending-luggage

Saves lugging them on trains or through Tokyo!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I’d say take your skis. Ski hire in Japan is more expensive than Europe and depending where you go you might have issues with the quality as well.

No need to lug your skis through Tokyo. Japan has a great luggage forwarding service and you can send all your ski gear from the resort to the airport. Just need to make sure there is enough time for them to get there but it shouldn’t be an issue with a couple of days.

As far as a Hakuba goes I actually prefer it to Niseko but that might be because I haven’t had great luck with weather and snow on my two Niseko trips.
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I went last year, and yes; take your own skis it's no real issue.

Finnair to Tokyo (Narita Airport) was cheapest, especially as they were offering free ski carriage!

On the way out we lugged skis onto the Narita express to central Tokyo. From the station there, through the metro system and onto the Shinkansen to Nagano without even emerging above ground. Just follow the lines on the floor.

Outside Nagano train station there was a bus stop to take us to Hakuba. It's actually a coach and the skis go inside the coach in the luggage areas.

On the return we also had a couple of days in Tokyo, so sent nearly all our luggage by "Black Cat" to the airport where we picked it up just before check in. Hand luggage only to, and then round, Tokyo made it very easy.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yes-been there twice (both times based in Happo One). Taking your own skis isn't a problem. For easy transfer on arrival we used a shared minibus which is easily bookable via the Hakuba website. Or you can take the train. English isn't widely spoken but the japanese are always keen to help as best they can and somehow everyone gets by. Signs in the stations, en route and in resort etc are also in western script/english.

On the way back-given the flights home tend to be early morning, you probably need at least one night in Tokyo-and it's dead easy to get the bus from Hakuba to Nagano for the Shinkansen into the city. Either stay in the city centre or by the airport.
One thing to bear in mind if you book a city centre hotel-Tokyo taxis are invariably saloon cars and don't have space for skis. (With true Japanese politeness the driver will try and fit your ski bag into the boot of the car, despite it being blindingly obvious it won't go!). So best book a hotel by the station that's walkable.

If you want to stay by the airport-then take a train onwards and there are airport hotel buses who will transfer you to and from your hotel.

It looks like my stepson may be off there for as season this winter working as an instructor/freeride coach for the Evergreen Outdoor centre, which is possibly your best bet for backcountry guiding if you're after off piste adventures. He did his first season there as an 18 year old and has just been offered the chance to go back 5 years on-which he's keen to take over a season in Zermatt.

Any hints or tips, happy to offer what we experienced in the two trips we did.
Make sure you get over to Hakuba Cortina and Norikura for tree skiing (it has a bonkers hotel at the bottom of the hill) but we had some of the best fun over there on our two trips.
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Thanks @Perty, and others for their help.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I had two weeks there this year and really enjoyed it. Stayed in Echo Land and the free bus services worked really well for all the mountains except Cortina/Norikura (needed two bus rides and timing was not great). Do not buy the Hakuba valley pass, you can get better deals buying your pass each day often best price from your hotel/lodge front desk. If you are getting old like me the senior discount starts at 55yrs for most mountains but I think you have to buy these at the mountain ticket office. Each mountain has different rules for off piste so just do you research before going into the trees. The valley is quite international but still has way more of a Japanese feel than Niseko and not nearly so crowded. Kashimayari ski area had almost no foreigners and hardly any signs in english but still easy to manage and worth a day.
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