Grab your boo and trade the sweltering city for the cool mountains this summer. From private onsens to lunch for two on the lake, get loved up with our guide to the ultimate romantic weekend in beautiful Hakuba.
August 14th, 2020 | by April Eve Day
Arrival – Romantic dinner served in your room
First, soak away the city in your hotel’s onsen, then slip into your yukata and prepare to be wined and dined from the comfort of your hotel room. Many traditional hotels offer a private dinner for just the two of you, usually consisting of several courses featuring fresh local ingredients. No other noisy guests, no kids, just the two of you. What better way to kick off your romantic weekend?
Day 1 – Bike Ride, Onsen, and A Night Under The Stars
Morning: Gentle ride through Happo
Grab a couple of bikes (often available at hotels or can be rented at numerous outlets throughout the valley) and go for a relaxed pedal around the village. The Happo area is relatively flat and has plenty of sights to see. Don’t miss the Hosono Suwa shrine with its giant 1000-year-old cedar tree and the view of the Matsukawa and mountains from Ohashi Bridge. Keep an eye out for the foot onsen across the road from the Happo Bus Terminal and the countless quaint little gardens dotted throughout the village.
Afternoon: Lunch at Nonjae and Private Onsen
Nonjae restaurant serves up delicious set meals at lunchtime complete with home-made soba, tofu, and oyaki, but one of the best things about it is the enormous windows that look out onto the gorgeous flower garden with the alps in the background. Cuddle up to your love on the floor cushions and take in the view. Follow lunch with a private onsen for two.
A private onsen is a rare treat in Japan, where you are usually surrounded by same-sex strangers, so call ahead and reserve an hour just for the two of you at Shirouma So. The onsen can be reserved between 11 am and 3 pm daily.
Evening: Stargazing or firefly park and picnic
Several of the gondolas open in the evenings on specific dates so you and your beau can cuddle together and gaze at the heavens. Add a blanket, some champagne and a picnic (BYO) and you have an unforgettable evening. If the stars (and the calendar) don’t align on your special weekend, don’t despair, the winking lights of thousands of fireflies at Hotaru Park are just as romantic.
Day 2 – A nature walk and Canoe for Two
Morning: Leisurely stroll at Himekawa Spring (姫川源流自然探勝園)
All good things must come to an end, but your romantic weekend isn’t over just yet! Grab a couple of Bentos, for your last day before heading home. The Co-op grocery store is also good for bread, cheese, and fruit.
On your way out of town stop by the impossibly clear water bubbling out of the ground at the Himekawa spring. It’s only slightly out of the way, but chances are you’ll only share this beautiful nature walk with the little green frogs that make the wasabi plants their home. Stroll through the deep, cool shade along a boardwalk that has been purpose-built to keep the spring pristine, and keep an eye out for monkeys, which are occasionally spotted here.
Afternoon: Canoe for two at Lake Aoki
From the Himekawa Spring, continue on to Lake Aoki, which gets its name from its startlingly blue water. Make sure you call ahead to reserve a canoe from one of the rental outlets (Evergreen Outdoor Center or Lion Adventure). Paddle out away from the families and enjoy some peaceful, quiet couple time. The shore is lined with huge shady trees, so there are plenty of places to enjoy lunch from your gently rocking boat. A dip in the cool water will complete your afternoon, and your romantic weekend.
Romance tank re-fuelled, it’s time to head home but not without some beautiful memories to last you until next time. See you in the Fall!
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