Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The hotel and the material we have read has given us a good idea of what to expect from each of the ski areas in Hakuba. Today we skied in “Goryu/Hakuba 47” which is actually two resorts: “Goryu” (on the left), which is basically for skiing, and “Hakuba 7” (on the right) which is more for boarders and beginners. We had been told that “Goryu” had the most difficult skiing of all of the resorts in the valley so we had saved this for the last day before our break tomorrow to see the Snow Monkeys. After the break I am not so sure we would want to try anything too challenging.

We started our skiing by sticking to the bottom of the resort where we found very wide, gentle slopes though a run off to the side we found quite challenging - Very steep and fairly narrow - But we enjoyed it though it took me a few seconds to get up my nerve to head down - I never, ever, stand at the top of a run and stare down it for any length of time, only just to see what line I want to take, if you stare though you end up getting more and more nervous…best to just go and since mother and I are fairly good skiers it does not really matter how bad it is, we will make it to the bottom.

It doesn't look steep in the photo...

When we first started skiing there was a lot of “corduroy”, that is, freshly groomed snow which is incredibly nice to ski on as it is so smooth. Of course the grooming is soon lost with the skiers all over it but it is nice while it lasted.

Bottom Runs

It was getting about time for lunch so we took the “Goryu Express” gondola to the top of the mountain.

Up the Gondola

I noticed something stuck behind the seat opposite us in our car so had a closer look and noticed a sign on the window “Emergency Toilet”. The packet was a plastic bag-affair though I did not look too close at it…I would have to be pretty close to disaster before I would consider ever using it and since the ride was only about 10 minutes long I can’t see it would ever be necessary short of the lift stopping completely for a few hours…We had a bit of a giggle though.

Emergency Toilet

It was very obvious that there are the slopes at the bottom then above that is a very steep, narrow, run while the top consists of a number of very steep slopes leading down. So to get back to where we had just come from we were going to have to down the steep slopes then along the narrow track before we could get to the easy runs at the bottom. We decided to stay up for a while..All along the top of the mountain are a series of fairly nice green (beginner) runs though.

View Back Down the Valley from the Gondola

At the gondola station on the summit we carried our equipment through the building to the “Restaurant Alps360” cafeteria for something to eat. It was a different arrangement here with my having to purchase our food from a machine that dispensed a token that we then presented to the people behind the counter.

Restaurant Alps360

We have been drinking Coke at lunch as it is refreshing and gives us a bit of a caffeine/sugar boost though we have been having two glasses. Here we did not need to as our Cokes came in half-liter tins! Enormous!

Huge Coke!

The top of the gondola station has a lookout station so we climbed the three stories of steps up to the top to have a look around (pant, pant, pant…we were up fairly high don’t you know!).

View from Lookout

The Hakuba Valley

It is a clear day so the view down the valley is amazing. Since this is really the first ski area in the Hakuba valley we were able to look at many of the other resorts from here. It is very pretty with so many more trees than you see when skiing in Canada or the Alps where you are so much higher.

We skied the easy trails along the top for a while which was quite nice. I say “easy” they were not really easy as they were fairly steep and wide.

Nice View

I do want to say something about the lifts here. Before coming to Hakuba I cannot say I have ever skied anywhere where the lifts did not have safety bars but here about half of the lifts are like that. It is a bit disconcerting being fifty or so feet above the snow with nothing but gravity pushing you back into the chair preventing you from doing a header into the mountain. The lifts are generally quite ancient as well hitting you hard on the back side when you get on and many times the seats are quite low (presumably for the Japanese) so they hit us square in the back. Mother and I always go up together so I try to make sure that the lift hits me first so that she can get on without any problems…it is not really nice. The attendants, however, are always saying “dozo” (“here you go”) so I always reply back “domo!” (colloquially, “thank you”). I think I am the only one that does this though they are very helpful making sure that we get on correctly and they are forever digging out the snow around the chairs to make sure it is easy for people to board.

Catching a Chair

Local Art!

One of the lifts along the top goes through the trees which were very pretty with all of the snow on them. You are below the tree height so it is also protected from the wind.


Well, we had to face the inevitable and take the trip back down to the bottom. It was getting up to about 3 pm (very late for us) so we took the plunge. It was not nice. The first part was very steep with a lot of ice and deep snow making the going very slow. It did not help that this was the only way out so there were a lot of people that were not very good skiers on this red (intermediate) slope (though it could arguably be called an advanced slope but here we have all but given up on the gradings of slopes as we have found the green slopes sometimes very difficult and the red slopes very easy). At the bottom of that run we had a narrow trail that was all ice that people were having a difficult time negotiating. I generally skied as straight as I could around them but mother had a lot more problems getting stuck behind some people that meant she had to really work hard not to run into them.

Thankfully, and uneventfully, we made it to the bottom, returned our cards for our deposit then waited in the car park beside the bus that was to return us to the Tourist Information Centre (it left about 20 minutes later).


We have noticed that at the bottom of the hills that there are always one or two shops selling snacks obviously cashing in on the people waiting around. The one here was selling very tasty looking crepes…


Mother’s watch showed up today so she was very relieved. It was sitting on the table in the room when we got back. I am thinking the cleaners found it in the bedding or something.

Our Hotel

Side Roads

Outside a Local Traditional Japanese Inn/Bar...

For dinner tonight we returned to the soba shop up the road that we visited earlier this week. This time we had the waiter seat us in the “traditional” Japanese dining area - Sitting cross-legged on the floor with a low table (like our room!). Tonight I had the “beef bowl” (local stewed and marinaded beef on a bowl of rice) which came with miso soup on the side but mother had the same as she had last time: Soba noodle soup with prawns. We convinced the waiter to bring us a big bowl of tempura we had seen another diner eating on our last visit (it turns out it is part of a meal but he relented and brought it out to us all by itself). The tempura was an amazing assortment of vegetables: Green peppers, tarot root, broccoli, onions, courgettes, …as well as a few prawns.


The restaurant is not that expensive either with the whole meal costing about 3,500 yen. It is certainly the bargain in this area looking at the menus posted in windows of restaurants in this area. We are also told soba noodles are a local speciality so that makes it even better.

The Soba Restaurant (on Left)

>> Next: Day 15

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