We all know the feeling. You wake up looking forward to some sweet pow turns only to open the curtains to the shredder’s worst enemy (apart from the teenage mutant ninja turtles): rain! The first thing any dedicated powderhound should do is check the snow conditions on the mountain. More often than not, what is rain at the base is snow at the top. But if the snow gods still don’t smile on you, don’t despair―read on for the ultimate list of rainy day activities.
January 28th, 2020 | by April Eve Day
Visit a living museum
At the Azumino Alps Park Exhibition center you can experience all things Japanese at this cultural hub where you can try your hand at creating art and handicrafts and cooking traditional Japanese food. The kids will enjoy getting up close and personal with local creepy crawlies and fish in the science room and there is even an Imax theatre where you can take a simulated hot air balloon ride over the spectacular Northern Alps. This will definitely keep the kids happy for an afternoon and it’s only about an hour’s drive from Hakuba which is easily reachable if you’ve hired a car.
Relax by a roaring fire
Not up for loading the kids into the car? If you’re in more of a mood to #chill, forget Netflix and snuggle up in a comfy chair by a crackling fire instead, wine or hot chocolate in hand of course. If you prefer a craft beer, the Hakuba Brew Pub in Iwatake has got you covered. Who needs snow when you have a sofa, a fireplace and 26 different beers to work your way through? If you’re looking for something to keep the kids occupied, head to Dongree cafe, also in Iwatake. While you relax by the fire and enjoy the view of snow covered forest over a bowl of made-from-scratch udon, let the kids work out their rainy day frustration at the mini indoor skate park right next door. This chilled out cafe even comes complete with its own very chilled out corgi-shiba cross. If you’re in Happo, warm up at the Fireside Lounge and Wine Bar in the Mominoki Hotel. There are plenty of board games for the young and young at heart, and the bar opens at 3pm every day.
Test Your Wits At Hakuba’s Escape Room
This 60-minute real-life adventure game pits you and your team against the clock. You and your team will assemble in a themed room and will have one hour to complete your mission and “escape” the room. Prove your skills and successfully escape by finding the hidden clues and solve the puzzles found throughout the room. If you are looking for a fun activity to do in Hakuba on a rest day from the slopes, this is for you! We can personally vouch for how much fun this can be. We even set the room record for our escape can you beat our time? Book now to find out!
Soak your troubles away
Bathing is something of a national pastime in Japan and you can do it in style at the Hakuba Highland Hotel Onsen. Non-guests of the hotel can enjoy a soak for a small fee and you can’t beat the view of the mountains from the outdoor bath. This is by far the best bath in Hakuba. What better way to prepare your tired muscles for the next serve of Japow! You can also grab a meal or a drink by the fireplace and enjoy the view. Hop in a taxi or take a walk, it’s just behind Hakuba station and up the hill on the west side of Hakuba Valley.
See the snow monkeys
It’s not just people who love a good bath in Japan, the monkeys get in on the act too! Sign the family up for a trip to see the infamous snow monkeys soaking their troubles away. While the monkeys are wild, local caretakers do feed them at certain times and the monkeys are partial to a good soak before and after eating, so be sure to avoid feeding times to make the most of the monkey bathing cuteness overload. A snow monkey trip can also be combined with sightseeing in Nagano city. Don’t miss Zenkoji Temple, the center of Buddhist life in Nagano and one of the most important temples in Japan. There are many local bus tours that cover both places.
Visit Castle Black
When it’s raining in Hakuba, it can often be fine in the nearby city of Matsumoto and trains leave every two hours from Hakuba station. Matsumoto castle is one of only twelve completely original castles in Japan and is also known as the “Crow Castle.” No, that’s actually not a reference to Game of Thrones, but to its entirely black exterior, a rarity in Japan. Just south of the castle is Nawate Street, also known as Frog Street for its dedication to Kermit and all his kin. Visit the frog shrine, browse the shops for frog figurines or have an instagram moment with one of the samurai frogs that guard the west entrance to the street. Why, you ask? Why not!
From furry friends to frogs, from bars to baths, there’s plenty to keep the boredom at bay on a rainy day in Hakuba. Let’s face it, we’re all here for the pow, but spend your next rainy day sans skis or snowboard and you might just discover something awesome.