At the beginning of February we took an unpaid day off so we could spend 3 consecutive days with Mikes brother Jordan since he was visiting Japan! What better place to do a little bonding then up in the mountains of Hakuba!
A mere 3 hour train ride consisting of 2 different trains and we found ourselves in the infamous town of Hakuba, where the 1998 winter Olympics were held!
We managed to hit the slopes of Happo-one by noon which allowed us to get a few hours of skiing in. Not bad for how long and far we had to travel to make it here! The mountain is HUGE. With 11 different ski resorts, 138 lifts, 5 gondolas, and who knows how much ski-able terrain it is obviously impossible to experience everything in just 3 short days. We chose Happo-one because of the location, and the popularity. I’m not going to say that the skiing was out of this world. Japan’s winter has been unusually warm and snow less this year. The conditions were a bit icy which is not super fun on a snowboard. But the mountain definitely has the potential to be EPIC. And if your experienced enough I heard the backcountry skiing is out of this world.
We checked into our hotel Kamoshika Views which is brand new this year and the guy running it is a super hospitable friendly Kiwi. The views were incredible and the beds were comfortable clean and warm. The only bummer was that we didn’t see any Kamoshikas (Mountain Goats)…where were they hiding?!
The snow Gods must have been on our side because the next morning when we woke up it had snowed!! We chose to ski at Cortina for our only full day because of the terrain and the overall snowfall. Upon arriving we were taken aback by the huge Swiss chalet style resort that was on the base of this mountain. Japan loves making things weird! We bought a pretty reasonable ski package for the day which included full day skiing, lunch and a soak in the onsen all for about $50. My favorite part of the day was the Onsen! For being inside the resort it was surprisingly relaxing and the “outdoor” onsen had an amazing view of the mountain! So far this is my favorite hotel onsen in Japan.
For dinner we decided to check out the best Sushi restaurant in Hakuba called Kikyo-ya. We’ve eaten at a few sushi restaurants since we’ve been here but this one definitely takes the cake! The chef is a licensed Fugu master, which means he’s trained to cut and serve poisonous blow fish! If this fish is handled the wrong way and you eat it you can die pretty much instantly. So what if its 200x more deadly than cyanide, we had to see what the fuss was about! Honestly, it tasted O.K. fresh yes, but in my opinion it was kind of flavorless and a bit too tough for my liking. But hey you gotta live on the edge right?
Overall, the weekend went by much too quickly and before we knew it we had to get back on a train say goodbye to Jordan and leave the beautiful mountains. It was rejuvenating to be away from the hustle and the bustle of the city but even more so to finally see a friendly face all the way from home! We only wish we could have spent more time with Jordan, eat more sushi and of course lose ourselves in the snowy bountifulness of Hakuba.