Options for getting to Hakuba

Tokyo to Hakuba

1. Shinkansen + Bus: Bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station, transfer to bus from Nagano to Hakuba. This is the easiest way to reach Hakuba from Tokyo. [Estimated time and cost: 3 hours, ¥ 10,000]

  • Take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano Station from Tokyo or Ueno. For precise times, fares and platform numbers check with Hyperdia. For tips on reserving train tickets please read this article.
  • At Nagano Station, go to the east exit and find bus stop #26. The bus bound for Hakuba destinations leaves roughly every hour from 8:20 to 20:30 and cost ¥1800.
  • Please remember that the last departing bus to Hakuba from Nagano Station is around 20:30 and you have no public transport options to Hakuba after this time.

2. Express Train: Direct express train (Azusa 3) from Shinjuku to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 4 hours, ¥ 8300]

  • Leaves daily at 7:30 from Shinjuku Station and goes directly to Hakuba Station arriving at 11:28.
  • This is also a great way to get back to Tokyo with the only direct train (no switching) leaving Hakuba at 14:37 and arriving in Shinjuku at 18:36.

3. Bus: Overall the Alpico Bus is the cheapest method of transportation Tokyo to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 5 hours, ¥ 4850]

  • Without at traffic the ride is 4.5 hours with two rest stops along the way. During holidays and weekend commuting times, be prepared for delays.
  • To find the bus terminal, exit Shinjuku Station using the west exit and follow the signs or exit on the street level and cross the street and turn left, go one block and turn right. The terminal is across from Yodobashi Camera. Check out their website for precise times and fares.

4. Car: Rent a car in Tokyo and drive to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 4.5 hours, cost depends on car size, but a Toyota Voxy will run you around ¥ 20,000 per day from Toyota Rent a Car]

  • Please remember that if you are coming to Hakuba in the winter time that you will need to reserve winter tyres as a special option with availability depending on the pick-up location.

Nagano to Hakuba

1. Bus: This is how the majority of travelers get to Hakuba from Nagano Station. [Estimated time and cost: 1 hour, ¥ 1800]

  • From the east exit of Nagano Station, take the elevator on the left down to the ground floor and go to bus stop #26. Here you will find the Alpico bus bound for Hakuba destinations leaving roughly every hour from 8:20 to 20:30.
  • Please remember that the last departing bus to Hakuba from Nagano Station is around 20:30.
  • Also be aware that you cannot reserve the bus and that usually if the bus is full they are able to put another one into service on short notice.
  • It is best to get off the bus at the Happo Information Centre (also called the Happo Bus Terminal) as this bus stop is centrally located, has an English speaking help desk, international ATM, free Wifi, coffeeshop, bathrooms and indoor waiting area.

2. Chartered Taxi: Another alternative is a chartered jumbo taxi. Chuo Taxi is the only taxi company offering this service and it is often booked out. [Estimated time and cost: 1 hour, ¥ 15,880 per jumbo taxi]

  • It is recommended that you reserve this service way in advance as it was near impossible to secure a booking last season.

Narita to Hakuba

1. Express train + Shinkansen + Bus: the fastest way to reach Hakuba from Narita is to take the Keisei Skyliner express train from Narita to Ueno (41 mins) and at Ueno switch to the Shinkansen to Nagano Station and then take the bus to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 4 hours, cost ¥ 12,260]

  • Once you clear customs, check with Hyperdia for the best route and times and proceed to the Skyliner ticket desk just outside customs.
  • At the Skyliner desk you can only purchase a Skyliner ticket to Ueno as they are not part of the Japan Railway Group, so you will need to purchase your bullet train ticket in Ueno. (the Skyliner now has free Wifi)
  • If you want a chance of getting a better seat, you can take the Narita Express from Narita to Tokyo Station which is the starting point for the Shinkansen to Nagano. The drawback is that it take a bit longer and Tokyo Station is a busier than Ueno Station.
  • Once you arrive at Ueno, follow the signs pointing to the JR Station where you can purchase you Shinkansen tickets and board the train bound for Nagano Station.
  • From Nagano Station you can either take the bus or a chartered taxi. (please see about - Nagano to Hakuba)

2. Shared or Chartered Taxi: Chuo Taxi is the most hassle-free way to getting to Hakuba from the airport, with a Toyota HiAce van meeting your party at the airport and transferring you to the front door of your Hakuba accommodation. [Estimated time and cost: 5 to 6 hours, adult: ¥ 15,900, children aged 12 and under: ¥ 11,800, children aged 6 and under: ¥ 6,100]

  • For groups of 7 adults or more, the taxi is chartered, meaning your taxi is private and there is no waiting on other passengers.
  • Groups smaller than 7 adults can secure a chartered taxi by paying the rate for 7 adults, thus ensuring that you do not need to wait on any other parties.
  • All airport pickups will incur an automatic ¥1000 fee for meet and greet.

3. Bus: If your flight time matches up with a bus departure, the Nagano Snow Shuttle is a convenient and cheaper alternative way to get to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 5 to 6 hours, adult: ¥ 9200, children aged 12 and under: ¥ 8200, children aged 3 and under: free with no assigned seat] Alpico Bus also has a daily bus leaving Narita Airport around 11:00 in the morning.

  • The Nagano Snow Shuttle departs Narita daily at 9:00, 12:00, 15:30 and 20:30.
  • You can arrange for a drop off in front of your Hakuba accommodation for a fee of ¥500.

4. Car: Rent a car at Narita and drive to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 5 hours, cost depends on car size, but a Toyota Voxy will run you around ¥ 20,000 per day from Toyota Rent a Car]

  • Please remember that if you are coming to Hakuba in the winter time that you will need to reserve winter tyres as a special option with availability depending on the pick-up location.

Haneda TO HAKUBA

1. Express Train + Local Train + Shinkansen + Bus: Lots of transfers, but it isn't too hard if you don't have lots of luggage and kids in tow. [Estimated time and cost: 3.5 hours, ¥ 10,410]

  • Go to the train station at Haneda and take the Keikyu Airport Limited Express to Shinagawa Station and switch to the Yamanote Line going towards Tokyo Station.
  • At Tokyo Station buy a ticket on the Shinkansen to Nagano Station.
  • From Nagano Station you can either take the bus or a chartered taxi (please the Nagano to Hakuba section above)

2. Shared or Chartered Taxi: Chuo Taxi is the most hassle-free way to getting to Hakuba from the airport, with a Toyota HiAce van meeting your party at the airport and transferring you to the front door of your Hakuba accommodation. [Estimated time and cost: 4 to 5 hours, adult: ¥ 12,900, children aged 12 and under: ¥ 9100, children aged 6 and under: ¥ 3800]

  • For groups of 7 adults or more, the taxi is chartered, meaning your taxi is private and there is no waiting on other passengers.
  • Groups smaller than 7 adults can secure a chartered taxi by paying the rate for 7 adults, thus ensuring that you do not need to wait on any other parties.
  • All airport pickups will incur an automatic ¥ 1000 fee for meet and greet.

3. Bus: If your flight time matches up with a bus departure, the Nagano Snow Shuttle is a convenient and cheaper alternative way to get to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 4 to 5 hours, adult: ¥ 9200, children aged 12 and under: ¥ 8200, children aged 3 and under: free with no assigned seat] Alpico Bus also has a two daily buses that leave at 7:40 and 12:40.

  • The Nagano Snow Shuttle departs Haneda once daily at 9:30.
  • You can arrange for a drop off in front of your Hakuba accommodation for a fee of ¥500.

4. Car: Rent a car at Haneda and drive to Hakuba. [Estimated time and cost: 4 hours, cost depends on car size, but a Toyota Voxy will run you around ¥ 20,000 per day from Toyota Rent a Car]

  • Please remember that if you are coming to Hakuba in the winter time that you will need to reserve winter tyres as a special option with availability depending on the pick-up location.

 

Helpful Hints...

Takkyubin or TA-Q-BIN is a handy next day luggage delivery service which will send your luggage to anywhere in the country including the airport, which will make travelling on the trains a lot easier as you don't need to carry your heavy bags up and down platforms and stairs as well as crowded trains. The Hakuba store is open from 8:00 to 20:00 daily with the last delivery truck leaving Hakuba at 18:00, so you want to have your luggage there by 17:00 if you need it by 18:00 the next day. The exception is they need a full 48 hours for luggage headed to the airport as they need to be certain you will receive it before your flight. The estimated cost to send one piece of luggage is less than ¥2000.

Google Maps is the best way to navigate the roads of Japan. Not only is it in your own language, but the maps are more up to date as they are collecting real time traffic data from everyone that is using it. Just be aware that you cannot save a map to your phone for use offline in Japan due to licensing restrictions so you'll need to have a data plan in order to use it in the car.

The JR East Pass is handy and can save you some money if you are traveling mainly in Nagano, Niigata and the Tokyo region during your stay. The ticket can be purchased at the Narita and Haneda airport or in your home country and is useable on 5 days out of 14 days starting from the date of purchase. It is ¥18,000 per adult and ¥9,000 for children (a bit cheaper if purchased overseas).

Pocket Wi-Fi or sim cards certainly make your holiday more pleasant keeping you in touch with your friends and family back home as well as helping you navigate Japan. There are several places online to rent them. Here is one.