Otari and the Hakuba Valley lay some 200km (130mi) northwest of Tokyo in Nagano Prefecture’s Northern Japanese Alps and are easily accessible by train and road from most major hubs. Otari itself, and its three ski resorts, are located just north of Hakuba along Route 148.
Although regional airports such as Toyama & Matsumoto Airports are within 2 hours drive of Otari, the majority of visitors will generally travel by road or by train from one of the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya, after having first arrived in Japan at Tokyo's Haneda or Narita Airports.
More details on the various options for travel available to Otari are provided below, though prices and service times are subject to change.
From Major Cities:
If you haven't done so before, it is highly recommended to ride Japan's bullet train (Shinkansen) at least once during your stay. The bullet train provides a reasonably-priced, quick and comfortable route to Nagano's mainline station, from where you can complete your journey onward via coach, taxi or private transfer. See more details in the "From Tokyo" section below.
There is also a local train line servicing Hakuba and Otari - The Oito Line. Whilst scenic, it can be more time consuming than other transportation options. The Oito Line runs from Matsumoto, through Omachi, Hakuba, Otari and on up to Itoigawa on the Sea of Japan.
Whether riding the bullet train or local rail lines, travellers to Japan are recommended to explore the purchase of a Japan Rail Pass, which offers cheap, unlimited travel on JR's Network throughout Japan.Japan Rail Pass
From Tokyo via Nagano (Train & Bus)
Take the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno Stations to Nagano (approx. 100 minutes, ¥8000) and then an express bus from Nagano to Hakuba or Otari (90 minutes, ¥2000), where all buses stop at Hakuba Station and the Happo Information Centre and some earlier ones continue on to Tsugaike and Norikura in Otari. A Japan Rail Pass will cover the Shinkansen trip but not the bus journey. See the timetable for the Alpico Express Bus from Nagano to Hakuba/Otari below.Nagano-Hakuba or Tsugaike/Norikura
From Tokyo via Matsumoto
Alternatively, there is a very convenient daily service utilising both the Chuo and Oito lines that leaves from Shinjuku. Take the JR Azusa limited express train from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto and transfer there for a local train on the JR Oito Line heading to Hakuba and Otari. Some trains require one additional transfer at Shinano Omachi Station. The 07:30 Azusa limited express, however, runs all the way to Minami Otari directly with no transfers. The one way journey takes about 4 to 4.5 hours and costs around ¥8000. It is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.Shinjuku-Minami Otari
From Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya
Take the JR Shinano limited express train from Nagoya to Matsumoto and transfer to a train along the Oito Line to Hakuba. The one way journey takes about 3.5 hours and costs around ¥7000. It is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
From Shinjuku on a limited express train via the Chuo and Oito Lines
Take the JR Azusa limited express train from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station to Matsumoto and transfer to a local train on the JR Oito Line to Hakuba. The 07:30 Azusa limited express train runs all the way to Minami Otari. The one way journey takes about 4 to 4.5 hours and costs around ¥8000. It is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
BY BUS OR SHARED・ PRIVATE TRANSFER
Nagano Prefecture's largest regional bus and taxi company, Alpico, provides smooth, safe and spacious transfers from Shinjuku as well as Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports through to Otari and Hakuba Valley. This service is popular for its roomy three to a row seats with leg rests and deep recline, just what you need after a long flight. Two comfort stops are scheduled for your convenience; allowing you to pick up drinks and snacks, and use the restroom facilities.
By direct highway bus from central Tokyo
During winter, 5-7 bus round trips per day are operated between Tokyo (Shinjuku) and Hakuba, where the buses stop in the village center and at the base of the Goryu and Happo-one resorts. The one way journey takes about 4.5 hours and costs 4850 yen. A round trip ticket is available for 8700 yen and must be used within seven days.Shinjuku-Hakuba
By direct highway bus from Narita or Haneda Airports
During winter, one round trip per day each is operated between both of Tokyo's major airports and Hakuba, where customers can choose to get off at either at Goryu, Hakuba Station of the Happo Bus Terminal. The one way trip takes about six hours and costs 9300-9800 yen depending on which airport you are traveling from/to.Narita Airport-Hakuba Haneda Airport-Hakuba
Private and Shared Transfers:
Alpico ChartersAlpico Website
In addition to bus and taxi services, Alpico also offers private, chartered transportation in the form of vans, mid-sized buses and full-size buses. You can visit their homepage to fill in a reservation form and receive a quote.
Chuo TaxiChuo Taxi Website
Shared Transfers are a convenient way to travel between the Tokyo airports and ski resorts in Nagano Prefecture. These transfers are available from Tokyo's Narita and Haneda Airports to Hakuba, and also in the opposite direction from Hakuba back to the airport. This is a stress-free seamless travel option; a driver will meet you at your airport arrival gate with a name card and show you to the vehicle, and you will be taken right to the front door of your ski resort accommodation.
Generally the vehicle provided is a jumbo taxi, and up to seven people travelling to the Nagano area will be scheduled to ride together. During busy periods when many people are travelling to the Nagano area at once, a large coach bus may be provided instead. Please note there is no specific departure time, your transfer will depart once all other passengers scheduled to join the ride have arrived; however this service is scheduled so that the longest duration between flight arrival and shared transfer departure is 90 minutes. Bookings do need to be made in advance and the earlier the better as some days book out early.
Narita Airport to Hakuba Valley Private Transfer Approximate Prices:
- from ¥18,200 per person
- Children 7-12 yrs
- ¥12,800 per person
- Infant 0-6 yrs
- ¥6,800 per person
Haneda Airport to Hakuba Valley Private Transfer Approximate Prices:
- from ¥17,200 per person
- Children 7-12 yrs
- ¥12,000 per person
- Infant 0-6 yrs
- ¥6,500 per person
BY CAR OR TAXI
Rental or Private Car:
If you are visiting Japan and would like to travel to the Hakuba Valley by car, most major car rental companies can be found in all major cities and towns. Check here to see what the licence requirements are for renting and driving in Japan.japan-guide.com
There are two options to get from Tokyo to the Hakuba Valley by car, with both routes taking approximately 4 hours.
- Take the Chuo Expressway to the Okaya Junction and head towards Nagano on the Nagano Expressway. Exit at the Azumino Interchange and follow Routes 147 & 148 through Omachi and onto Hakuba and beyond to Otari.
- Take the Kanetsu Expressway to the Fujioka Junction and head towards Nagano on the Joshinetsu Expressway. Exit at the Nagano Interchange and follow the Hakuba Nagano Olympic Road to Hakuba and continue on to Otari.
From Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya
Take the Chuo expressway to the Okaya Junction and transfer to the Nagano Expressway. Follow this to Azumino and exit the expressway there. Follow the signs to Hakuba, which will take you through Omachi and on to Route 148. It is approximately 3.5 hours from Nagoya and approximately 5.5 hours from the Kansai area. Add up to an additional half hour to reach the ski resorts in Otari.
If renting, remember to book a 4WD vehicle with snow tires and make sure the radiator has anti freeze!
For ease and convenience, local taxi services can be used for shorter distance travel within the Hakuba Valley, such as for transfers from train or bus stations directly to your accommodation in Otari. This service is particularly handy for families with children, those with a lot of luggage or those arriving late. Prices are determined by the meter, and fares are very similar across the different taxi companies.
Locally, the easiest place to catch a taxi to Otari is in front of Hakuba Station or the Happo Bus Terminal, but you can also ask your hosts to call one of the following on your behalf, or call directly if you have a local SIM card or an international roaming plan:
- Alpico Taxi
- Otari Kankou Taxi
- Alps Taxi
- Hakuba Kanko Taxi
- Hakuba Kanko Taxi Happo Office