- As noted in the Story section, it would be much easier to approach Hakuba from the south, from either Nagano or Matsumoto. The demerits include missing that stunning first view of the mountains and, in my experience at least, fairly strong headwinds coming down from the mountains as you’re trying to cycle up the (admittedly not very steep) road. However, taking this option would mean you could make an easy triangle of a ride from either Matsumoto or Nagano up to Hakuba and then back to whichever city you didn’t start from.

As mentioned in the Story section, one of the very best Japan Alps routes (which will eventually be featured on this site) is the one from Nozawa Onsen (shown at left) to Hakuba via the pass at Togakushi. As the road goes over 2000m elevation, it’s not passable when there’s snow (meaning for much of the year), but this is a great way to get to Hakuba in the warmer months. Due to the steepness on the Hakuba side, I recommend using this route to get from Nozawa to Hakuba and NOT vice-versa. For more information on Nozawa Onsen, see the Japan Alps route on this site.

- There is one other great way to get to Hakuba, but as it’s not really suitable for cycling, I relegated it to this page. In order to build Japan’s massive Kurobe Dam, the engineers were forced to construct a complicated series of trams and other railway-like means of transport through the steep mountains to get workers and equipment to the construction sites. After the completion of the dam, they didn’t want to let their hard work go to waste, and the result is the Tateyama-Kurobe “Alpen” Route. This is a major tourist attraction (and priced accordingly - it is NOT cheap). However, it is justly famous for its breathtaking scenery and fall leaves and, in spring, for the view at right, in which you travel by bus through a canyon of snow with walls more than 10 meters high in places. Location-wise, this would seem to be far and away the best way to get to Hakuba, as it emerges at Omachi just south of Hakuba. Alas, I do NOT recommend trying to carry a bagged bicycle on this route (as I did on my visit): you have to change six or seven times to various modes of transport, and unless your bike rolls you’re going to be exhausted by the end. Better to “takkyubin” the bike to some lodging in Omachi or Hakuba ahead of time and enjoy the Alpen Route without the heavy bike (or do it as a day-trip from somewhere in the area). If you do decide to take the bike along the entire route, you might consider reassembling it temporarily when you get to Kurobe Dam and rolling it across (of course NOT riding) - it sure feels like a long way to the other end of the dam if you’re carrying a heavy bagged bike.

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