Hakuba MountainLife Magazine

The last few seasons, Hakuba MountainLife Magazine has graced the racks just left of the front desk. It’s an excellent resource for knowledge and inspiration about the backcountry surrounding Hakuba, put together by a group of dedicated mountain travelers.

This winter’s magazine is available online, meaning you don’t have to visit the front desk to read it (though we’d love it if you did). Amongst other stories, it includes an account of the Korube Traverse, photo gallery from skiing around the Hakuba area, and info on getting started in the backcountry. Check it out for some guaranteed winter excitement from our backyard.

All-Time Alpine & A Favorable Forecast

IMG_0456It’s no secret that Japan’s early season snowpack is a bit below average, but Hakuba’s alpine terrain is still delivering deep turns and big smiles. On December 16th, a storm rolled in and dumped nearly 40cm of low-density snow on the upper slopes of Happo One. The following morning, the sun popped out, allowing eager skiers and snowboarders to explore Happo’s incredible backcountry terrain. High winds deposited lots of soft snow on to the northeast aspects, and a few Morino employees and locals teamed up to power lap the mellower lines.

Consecutive bluebird days are a rarety in Japan; frequent storms make high-elevation skiing inaccessible for weeks at a time. Luckily, the sun stuck around after the most recent storm, and the peaks above Tsugaike held dry and wind-protected pow. Morino employees Rachel, David and Ian adventured into the alpine and got excellent goggle tans while making endless fluffy hippie turns! Temperatures rose later in the week, and the snow at lower elevations firmed up quickly and turned into creamy mashed potatoes. This warming trend will hopefully allow the next layer of storm snow to bond easily, strengthening Hakuba’s early season snowpack.  


Hakuba lacks a standardized weather model, so forecasting here can be tricky. Matt, co-owner of the Morino, has developed his own advanced, top-secret formula for predicting snowfall in the valley. His estimates indicate that Christmas will bring several days of consistent heavy snow, even at lower elevations. Matt’s weather projections for this week are confirmed by a few other local resources, so get ready for refills!

 

Escape the Heat with a cool Hakuba retreat.

Hakuba Lake Aokiko Panorama

Rainy season is “officially” over & the long hot Tokyo summer has set in. Temperatures in the mid to upper-30s & lots & lots of concrete = not much fun at all.

The good news is that Morino Lodge & all our Deluxe Chalets are open for the summer & Hakuba is full of fun & relaxing ways to cool off.

Here` a list of Morino`s top 10 things to do in the Hakuba summer;

  • 10Take a drive down the Azumino Art Line – With stunning views of the alpine landscape, & a dizzying array of cultural attractions, this picturesque piece of countryside is one of Japan`s best kept secrets.img49479d04206a9
  • 9 – Wakeboard in Lake Kizakiko – Wakeboarding is not as difficult as you think & Kizakiko`s smooth waters is the perfect place to do it.
  • 8 – Visit Miasa – Miasa is a charming little farming community about 20 minutes-drive from Hakuba. “Miasa” means “beautiful hemp” which is what they used to farm here. Nowadays it`s mostly soba & rice. Naturally, you`ll find some of the best soba restaurants in Japan here. But you should also check out Miasa Coffee a charming straw-bale coffee house on beautiful grounds….a fantastic place for a walk.
  • 7 – Tandem Paraglide – with a qualified instructor, sore amongst the majestic peaks of Hakuba.paraglider
  • 6 -BBQ – whether you do it at the edge of the Matsukawa river, on the shores of Aokiko or on the deck of one of our chalets, this is what summer`s all about. We`ve got the bbqs & we`ll take you to the local butcher with cheap “inaka” prices.
  • 5 – Take a Mountain Bike Clinic at Sweetridersor if you already know what you`re doing, rent a bike & we`ll show you some fantastic trails.
    Mountainbiking Hakuba
  • 4 – Take a walk – From short strolls in the valley to serious multi-day treks, the Northern Alps offer some of the most stunning scenery in Japan. There`s something for everyone. 1465345746_750_happo-ridge-070929-2-happo-pond
  • 3 – Take a nighttime Firefly Canoe Tour – A magical experience for folks of any age, this has quickly become one of Hakuba`s most popular summertime activities. night-hotaru-canoe-2
  • 2 – Go Canyoning with EvergreenRappel, jump, slide, swim, down a cool mountain canyon equipped with 15m waterfalls & deep fresh swimming pools. The ultimate refreshment! 523604_10151202923596041_321468196_n
  • 1 – Spend the day at Lake Aokiko – There is nothing better than this & if it`s the only thing you do here, you`ll leave refreshed & satisfied. The mountain fed lake is as pristine as it gets, the views are tranquil & the pace is slow. Swim, bbq, read a book, then swim some more. We`ll provide the lawn chairs, hammocks & other toys.

Honorable mention – Take a soba making class, Do the Ex-Adventure Course, Take the Gondola to the top of Happo, Play a round of mallet golf, Take an Evergreen one day Combo Tour, Ride a bike through the valley rice fields, Relax in an Onsen, Get the latest tricks dialed for next winter at the Water Jump, , Cruise the mountain hills on a long board.

白馬の地震に関するアップデート

多くの人がご存知の通り、先週土曜日(2014年11月22日)に長野県北部は大きな地震に見舞われました。そして白馬村はその中心に位置していました。気象庁の発表では、地震の規模はマグニチュード6.7であったそうです。

まず初めに、今回の事があって多くの人からメールや心配の声を頂きました。皆さんの気持ちに本当に感謝しています。ありがとうございます。

Morinoのメンバーや白馬にいる僕らの友人は皆無事です。僕らのロッジやシャレーなどの建物についても何の問題もありませんでした。街やスキー場エリアでも、‘大きな揺れを感じた’という以外には何も変わった事はありません。地震は日本では珍しくはないです。僕らは皆無事!今回受けた被害は、ワイン一本とグラスがひとつふたつ。スキー場でもリフトや設備等これといった被害はありません。

では全く何ともなかったのかと言うと、そういうわけでもありません。白馬村の最も東側の地域では、古い家屋で揺れに耐えきれなかったものもあり、何軒かは完全に倒壊しました(下の写真を参照)。道路に亀裂が入った場所もあります。ただありがたい事に、亡くなった方はゼロ。火曜日時点で報告されている重傷者の数も4人と限られています(軽傷者の数は19人と報告されています)。

①白馬から長野市へ向かう道路近くの堀之内地区で倒壊した家屋。今回の地震ではこの地区の被害が最も大きかった。

① 白馬から長野市へ向かう道路近くの堀之内地区で倒壊した家屋。今回の地震ではこの地区の被害が最も大きかった。

余震の数も規模も徐々に減っていて、もうあと数日経てば元通りの平穏な状態が戻るはずです。迫りくる今スキーシーズンへの影響も全くないでしょう。もちろん、継続して状況を監視していきます。

何か不安や質問があれば遠慮なく聞いてください!

ところで、今回の地震に対する日本の緊急対応には賞賛を送らなければなりません。迅速で徹底した対応は、被害者に冷静さと安心感をもたらし、損傷した道路やインフラ設備は地震直後から復旧活動が始まっています。

日本人全般についても一言。今回の様な困難に直面しても、彼らは皆落ち着いて、冷静に、威厳を持った行動を取りました。この国にはCNNに誘発されるヒステリーはありません!

最後に、繰り返しになりますが、白馬の大半で通常の生活が戻っています。ですが、一部には今回の地震で壊滅的な被害を受けた人たちがいます。白馬村役場の報告では、27軒の家が全倒壊、17軒は一部倒壊、58軒に僅かな被害があったそうです。物置小屋や蔵も含めると、合計224の建物に被害がありました。

現時点では、こうした被害者の人たちへの救済基金が設置されたといった情報はありませんが、恐らく近くそういった基金が設置されると思います。そういった情報もまたお知らせしていきます。

改めて最後に、皆さんのご心配や温かい言葉、ありがとうございました。

 

Old storage sheds like these didn`t fair well. In total 53 "wharehouses" were totally destroyed.

この写真の様な古い物置小屋は損害を被った。計53棟の物置小屋が全倒壊した。

地震への対応は見事。これくらいの損壊はあっという間に修復。

地震への対応は見事。これくらいの損壊はあっという間に修復。

安全で暖かい避難所で安心。笑顔も見られる。

安全で暖かい避難所で安心。笑顔も見られる。

Hakuba Earthquake Update

As many of you already know, last Saturday night (Nov 22 2014) Northern Nagano prefecture was hit by a pretty serious earthquake & Hakuba was at the center of it.  The Japan Meteorological Agency is calling it a magnitude 6.7 earthquake.

Firstly, I`d like to say thank you for all the thoughts & emails we`ve received. We really appreciate your concern.

The Morino crew & all of our Hakuba friends are doing fine. All of our lodges & chalets escaped without any issues, and indeed, most of the town, and the ski resorts, felt nothing more than a big shake….which is not entirely uncommon in Japan of course. We are all fine, and all we lost at the Lodge was a bottle of wine and a glass or two. No apparent damage at any of the resorts, the lifts, or anything else….

Not to downplay what happened however…. Some older houses on the far east side of the valley took it less well, and several were completely destroyed (see below), along with a few cracks in the roadway. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear any lives were lost & the number of serious injuries reported as of Tuesday were listed as just 4 people (with 19 people listed as slightly injured).

Damaged homes in the Horinouchi community.

Damaged homes in the Horinouchi community near the road leading out from Hakuba to Nagano City. This was the area hit hardest by the quake.

Aftershocks have become less frequent & decreasing in intensity & should be a thing of the past after a couple more days. I expect that this will have zero effect on this upcoming ski season, but of course… we will continue to monitor the situation.

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any concerns as the time gets closer…. !!

I have to give big kudos to the Japanese emergency services` response to the quake. It`s been swift & thorough, bringing calm & confidence that the affected people are being looked after & damaged roads & infrastructure have been being dealt with since immediately after the quake.

I also have to make a note about the Japanese people in general; once again, in the face of adversity they remain poised, calm & totally dignified. No CNN induced hysteria here!

Finally, to reiterate, for the bulk of Hakuba, life has returned to normal. However, there are some people on the outskirts of town for whom this earthquake has been devastating. Hakuba Village office reports that a total of 27 homes were totally destroyed, 17 partially destroyed & 58 suffered slight-damage. If you include warehouses & rice storage sheds (Kura) then in total 224 structures experienced some damage.

At this stage i`m not aware of any relief fund to help get these people back on their feet but i`m expecting there will be something set up soon & will post about it then.

Thanks again for all your concerns.

Old storage sheds like these didn`t fair well. In total 53 "wharehouses" were totally destroyed.

Old storage sheds like these didn`t fair well. In total 53 “warehouses” were totally destroyed.

The response to the earthquake has been amazing. Damaged roads like this one are quickly being repaired.

The response to the earthquake has been amazing. Damaged roads like this one are quickly being repaired.

safe & warm in an emergency shelter.

safe & warm in an emergency shelter….& still smiling.