Onsens are an important and revered aspect of Japanese culture that every traveller to Hakuba should experience at least once. Onsens are public bathing springs heated by volcanic geothermal energy and are the perfect way to relax after a long day on the mountain. Nude bathing is mandatory at the majority of onsens and most are separated by gender. Hakuba also has small private onsens which can be booked for families or groups. Onsens can be both indoor and outdoor and usually are placed in a serene mountain setting with beautiful Japanese architecture – the perfect place to quietly relax and enjoy the Japanese mountain landscape. Before booking your onsen experience be aware of etiquette, and that tattoos are banned at many onsens. If you have any questions or would like us to suggest an onsen for you come see us at reception or get in touch here:Email Us
A quintessential image of the Japanese mountain landscape, Japanese snow monkeys are one of the most popular things to see for guests of Hotel Villa Hakuba. The Jigokudani Valley snow monkey park is where to find them and makes a beautiful and rewarding day-trip during your holiday in Hakuba. Surrounded by the steep mountains of the valley, a winding path takes visitors to the hot springs where the monkeys are found bathing in the warm pools, and interacting with one another in their natural habitat.More info
For those interested in Japanese history and architecture, Matsumoto Castle is considered a Japanese national treasure and is only a short day trip from Hotel Villa Hakuba. Built in the 1500’s, Matsumoto Castle is the oldest castle donjon remaining in Japan. The grounds are stunningly beautiful with manicured trees, meandering paths, traditional arching bridges and koi swimming in the icy moat. Inside the castle are steep stairs and low ceilings leading past displays of armour and weapons from the Sengoku period. Matsumoto town surrounds the castle and is a wonderful place to explore with its narrow streets, traditional Japanese buildings and plenty of cafes, shops with a variety of Japanese arts and handicrafts. Matsumoto is a melting pot of art and culture and is home to the Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, the Modern art Museum, and the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum.More info
For a fun and eventful day trip from Hakuba, many like to explore the city of Nagano. Host of the 1998 winter Olympics, visitors can explore shrines, galleries, museums, and Olympic venues during their visit. With a vast array of stores including the 24/7 shopping paradise, Mandai – Nagano is a great spot for those looking for some retail therapy. Nagano also has a bunch of great dining options and bars to keep you nourished while exploring the city.More info
In the centre of Nagano, just a stroll from the train station is Zenko-ji Buddhist temple. One of the most important and popular in Japan, Zenko-ji is one of the last remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan. Built in the 7th Century, the temple holds what is believed to be the first image of Buddha, a wooden statue of the Amida Buddah brought to Japan in the 6th century. Zenko-ji is open to everyone regardless of their Buddhist denomination, and it is believed that a visit there once in a lifetime will ensure passage into the Land of Happiness. The temple has grown on the basis of this popular belief from ancient times, and is bustling with visitors and tourists even today.More info
If youre planning a trip to Hakuba in mid January the Nozawa Onsen fire festival is not to be missed. Held on the 15th of January every year, the festival is a celebration held to pray for a plentiful harvest, health and good fortune during the year to come. During the festival, an 18 metre beechwood shrine is built by the village only to be set alight during the festival, and battled over in a dramatic tradition performed by local villagers. Fireworks, Dosojin drummers and other ceremonies make up the rest of what is an unforgettable fire festival experience.More info
The city of Omachi is only a half hour drive from Hotel Villa Hakuba and is home to a number of fascinating museums and galleries for the culturally inclined. With something for everyone, a must-see is the famous Omachi Alpine Museum which documents the geological and mountaineering history of the Japanese alps. Visitors to Omachi can also check out the Sake Museum, Energy Museum, Salt Road Museum as well as the Mokusho Azumino Wood Carving Museum and Wachigai Gallery. For questions or Omachi museum recommendation contact us here.More info
Japanese cuisine is as authentic as it is delicious, with many visitors to Hakuba taking advantage of the wealth of delicious Japanese restaurants found around the valley. For those looking to delve a bit deeper into Japanese food culture, there are a variety of Japanese cooking classes on offer, teaching students how to prepare everything from traditional sushi, to udon, ramen, gyoza, tonkatsu and okonomiyaki. For more info about different Japanese cooking school options visit us at reception or get in touch here.More info
Dating back to the 9th Century, the ancient Japanese tradition of tea ceremony is an authentic part of Japanese culture and a wonderful experience for visitors to Hakuba. Learn about what traditional Japanese matcha is, and how it’s properly prepared then share it with your friends in a serene and authentically Japanese environment.
For more info about tea ceremonies visit us at reception or get in touch here.
For visitors looking to get into the outdoors, but not interesting in skiing or snowboarding – snowshoe tours are available. Hakuba has an endless supply of peaceful mountain ridge trails which can be explored on foot – visiting shrines, forests, rivers and beautiful alpine views along the way.More info