Why rent a car?

On this website and blog, we plan to tell you more about our vehicles and about the Hakuba region. In the meantime, if you are unsure, here are some reasons why people rent a car in Hakuba, based on what they have told us.

  • They are dissatisfied with the shuttle bus services available. This is a very common complaint, even from people staying in areas with the most buses and even in 2019 after the number of buses has been increased. There is no Uber in Japan, and taxis are costly and can take forty minutes to arrive.
  • They want to visit ski resorts outside of Hakuba that are less crowded and/or get greater snowfall. They are hardly “secret”, but skier etiquette prevents us from naming them here. Rent a car from us and we will tell you which resorts they are.
  • They want to visit the Snow Monkey Park in Yamanouchi without paying for an organized trip.
  • They want to do Nordic (cross-country) skiing in Hakuba without paying 4,000 yen each way for a taxi. The cross country stadium has Olympic-level trails and onsite rentals, but no public transport.
  • They want to go sightseeing in Matsumoto or Nagano City. This is a good option in early and late season when snow conditions are sub-optimal.
  • They want the freedom and adventure that come from going where you want when you want. They do not want to rely on overworked hotel staff or overcrowded shuttle buses.

Driving in Japan

Speed limits are low, and most Japanese drive slowly. There are no roundabouts, and you’ll probably never need to parallel park the car. Almost all destinations will have offroad parking. Roads in Japan try to protect drivers from poor decision making, so there are traffic lights even at minor junctions. Most road signs show destinations using the alphabet as well as Japanese characters. Road rage is rare. Compared to many countries, driving in Japan is easy.

Inclement weather in winter brings its own problems, but the secret is just to drive slowly like everyone else. Hakuba does not have to fund its own snow clearing, there is a separate budget from the national government, and all main roads are thoroughly cleared. Since it snows to town level, most of Hakuba’s ski resorts can be reached without windy steep climbs that are treacherous on the way back down.

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