Now that my stay in Hakuba has sadly ended, I wanted to share a little of what live is like there and some of the interesting things I’ve found around. I lived in a guesthouse called White Hill Lodge, which is in the Echoland part of Hakuba.
When I first came here, the place was a mess. The owner, Sky, had just gotten the place in 2017, and it was now in the midst of renovation. And just that would be our task for the first few weeks.
The rooms for the guest are all on the bottom floor. First we had to install the 8 bathrooms there, which was fun because none of the staff had any experience in plumbing or construction or whatsoever. We ended up learning how to plumb up toilets, install ventilation, wire up plugs and lights and how to seal the entire bathroom with silicone. Even though it was a ton of work, we always had a blast doing it. It was really fun trying to learn how to assemble these bathroom kits with just very limited information. I would have to say they turned out pretty good, and nothing has leaked yet, which is always great.
For the rooms themselves we had to put in a new carpet, also a first, and then put in all the furniture.
This is what they looked like before…
and this is after finishing.
The Echoland area here in Hakuba really consists of one main road. All the restaurants and cafés are located there and the hotels and guesthouses are on the connecting side streets. There’s quite a selection of restaurants, from Korean BBQ to a Mexican restaurant and of course a ramen shop and other japanese restaurants.
Now that the season has really started, it’s pretty busy around there. Most of the visitors are Australian, since it’s the best place for them to go skiing and snowboarding but I’ve even met a couple of german people around that wanted to experience Japanese snow..
speaking of it
When it snows in Japan, it comes down hard. There were some nights where we woke up to 50cm of new snow, and on 2 days there was a ridiculous amount of 90cm of fresh snow at the mountaintops. On such days it’s a crime not to go skiing. The trick is simply to not stop (which is easier said than done) because otherwise you would be stuck waist-deep in snow. On powder days like these there are many dangers waiting for you. Avalanches are not uncommon, and a few people have actually died in recent years, skiing just outside of the ski resort. If you lose control and fall, it’s easy to lose orientation and suffocate in the snow. At one point the people i was skiing with and I had to pull out one of our friends, because he was stuck upside down and could not move.
But the experience of gliding over that powder is simply too magical to skip out on. It feels almost as if you’re flying down a mountain, steering though the trees all while constantly being bombarded by amazingly fluffy snow.
White Hill Lodge
It has been an absolute pleasure staying at White Hill Lodge. If you’re ever in Hakuba and need a place to stay, definitely try to go there. Everyone I met there was so nice and it almost felt like a family staying there. We had breakfast and dinner together and the owner was always very open in what we could make so we had a homemade pizza party a few times and I made some burgers and so on. The guest were also really nice for the most part, some of them knew the owner and joined our dinners. The family vibe caught on to the guests a lot of the times and I even went skiing with a few of them occasionally.
Sad to leave, now its off to Kyoto.