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  • A Hop, Skip and a Jump away from Tokyo! ~3 Muslim Friendly Hotels for Your Winter Trip in the Chubu Region~

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A Hop, Skip and a Jump away from Tokyo! ~3 Muslim Friendly Hotels for Your Winter Trip in the Chubu Region~

Being a country with a temperate climate and very distinct seasons, many regions in Japan are no strangers to snowy winters. Every year from late December to early March, snowy regions see an influx of tourists enthused about winter activities like skiing, snowboarding and visiting Japanese gardens that are covered in snow.

This article introduces the editor’s pick of 3 Muslim-friendly accommodations and their surrounding tourist attractions in the Chubu region. Other than its easy accessibility from Tokyo by JR and buses, the region is also known for the abundance of winter sightseeing spots. The 1998 Winter Olympics hosting city of Hakuba in Nagano, the famous “snow monkey” hot spring and the historic city of Kanazawa are just a fraction of what this region has to offer for winter-lovers!

About Nagano

Nagano is a landlocked prefecture in the Chubu region of Japan that is only a 90-minute Shinkansen ride away from Tokyo. The landscape here changes at different elevations: the cities rest at several hundred meters above sea level, while mountain ranges like the Japanese Alps dominate the skies with peaks well over 3,000 meters. Such geographical feature allows the prefecture to enjoy a wide range of seasonal scenery brought by its diverse climate, and also fuels its immense popularity as a world-class winter destination for snow sports and sightseeing.

① Hakuba Sunvalley

Since the opening of its first ever skiing resort a hundred years ago, Hakuba has established itself as one of Japan’s leading winter destinations with powdery snow highly sought after by many skiers. Non-skiers are not left hanging either, as those opting for other activities can also visit the “Hakuba Miyajima Kougeikan” for exhibitions of crafts made by farmer artists, or enjoy strawberry-picking at the “Hakubasodachi Ichigoen”.

The editor’s pick for this area would be the Hakuba Sunvalley Hotel. Built next to a skiing area, it has a praying room and special menu for fellow Muslim visitors to comfortably indulge in between ski runs. On top of that, the location of this hotel is hard to beat! Not only is it close to the Hakuba Snow Sports School which offers skiing lessons in English, skiers looking for more trail options can easily get to the Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park that is only a 3-minute drive away.

About Hakuba Sunvalley Hotel:

Name:Hakuba Sunvalley Hotel
Address:26030, Kamishiro, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-261-75-3948
Access:JR Tokyo Station →[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 65 mins→Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop→[Walk] Approx. 10 mins→Kamishiro Station→[Taxi] Approx. 10 mins
Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal→[Expressway Bus] Approx. 5 hours→Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop→[Walk] Approx. 10 mins→Kamishiro Station→[Taxi] Approx. 10 mins
Snowy Season: Mainly from mid-December to late March (Depending on the ski resort, it can be as late as 5th May)
Hakuba Sunvalley Hotel

Tourist Spots near Hakuba Sunvalley

① Ski Resort in Hakuba Sunvalley:Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort
Address:22184-10, Kamishiro, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-261-75-2101
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 65 mins→ Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop→[Shuttle]
Opening Hours of the Ski Lift: 8:00~16:40(May differ depending on seasons, types of the vehicle condition of ski lift and gondola, or weather conditions)
Opening Period: Normally from mid-December – 31st March
Park Description: A total of 23 trails ranging from beginners to advanced. Special trail connecting to the Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park available. Ample options for families with kids at “Family Land Iimori”.

(Reference:http://www.hakuba-sunvalleyhotel.jp/ski.html

② Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park
Address:24196-47 Kamishiro, Hakuba-Mura,Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-261-75-3533
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 70 mins→Hakuba Ekimae Bus Stop→[Shuttle] Approx. 10 mins
Opening Hours of the Ski Lift: 8:40~16:00(May differ depending on seasons, types of the vehiclescondition of ski lift and gondolas, or weather conditions)
Opening Period: Normally from mid-December to 5th May
Park Description: Suitable for beginners to advanced skiers. The biggest snow park in the Hakuba area where visitors can enjoy freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Special trail connecting to the Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort available.
(Reference:https://www.hakuba47.co.jp/winter/en/

③ Hakuba Snow Sports School
Address:26092, Kamishiro, Hakuba-Mura,Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81 (0)80 5357 6420
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 60 mins→Hakuba Happou Bus Terminal→[Walk] Approx. 1 min→LION CAFE→[Shuttle] Approx. 15 mins
(Reference:https://www.hakubasnowsports.com/)

④ Miyajima Kougeikan
Address:5556, Hokujo, Hakuba-Mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-261-72-2738
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 65 mins→Hakuba Ekimae Bus Stop→ [Walk] Approx. 10 mins
Opening Hours: 10:00~18:00 (~17:00 from December to early March)
Closed:Irregular dates
(Reference:https://rurubu.jp/andmore/spot/80020302

⑤ Strawberry Picking: Hakubasodachi Ichigoen
Address:24197, Kamishiro, Hakuba-Mura,Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-261-75-3301
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Bus] Approx. 65 mins→Hakuba Goryu Bus Stop→ [Taxi] Approx. 5 mins (Or walk for 30 mins)
Opening Hours: 9:00~15:00
Opening Period: Mid-December ~ Mid-March
(Reference:http://tm-hakuba.shop-pro.jp/?mode=f9)

② Yudanaka Wafu-no-yado MASUYA

Thanks to the Japanese macaques (a.k.a snow monkeys) bathing in hot springs at the “Jigokudani Yaen-Koen”, the little town of Yamanouchi-machi in Nagano that was once unknown to most people outside of Japan has turned into a world-famous tourist destination. The town is also home to the Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring that was discovered over 1,350 years ago. For Muslim visitors to comfortably enjoy the hot springs just as the local Japanese do, the 140-year-old “Japanese Onsen Hotel Masuya” that offers private baths and guestrooms with outdoor bath is the place to stay.

During daytime, visitors can enjoy winter sports till their heart’s content at the top-class ski resort “Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort”, or spend some time at the SAJ (Ski Association of Japan) certified “Kita-shiga Ski School” if you want to improve your skiing skills quickly.

About Yudanaka Wafu-no-yado MASUYA:

Address:2296, Hirao, Yamanochi-machi Shimotakai-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-269-33-2171
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Nagano Dentetsu Limited Express] Approx. 45 mins→Yudanaka→[Taxi] Approx. 3 mins
Snowy Period: Mainly from mid-December to late March (Depending on the ski resort, it may open until somewhere around early April to 5th May)
Yudanaka Wafu-no-yado MASUYA

①Skiing & snowboarding: Shigakogen Mountain Resort
Address:7149, Hirao,Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano
TEL:+81-269-34-2301
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Nagano Dentetsu Limited Express] Approx. 45 mins→Yudanaka→[Bus] Approx. 30 mins→Shiga Kogen Yama no Eki Bus Stop
Park Description: 18 trails of varying difficulties from novice, family-friendly to steep advanced trails, and even standardized ones for professional skiers.
Shiga Kogen Resort Pulse Gondola Website
(Reference:https://www.shigakogen-ski.com/en)

② Kita Shiga SAJ Ski School
Address:1721,Yomase, Shimotakaigun, Yamanouchimachi, Nagano
TEL:+81-269-33-2000
Access:(Kita-shigakogen Ryuoo Ski Park)Yudanaka→[Shuttle] Approx. 30 mins→Ryuou Ropeway
     (X-JAM Takaifuji)Yudanaka→[Taxi] Approx. 20 mins
     (Yomase Onsen Ski Resort)Yudanaka→[Taxi] Approx. 12 mins

(Reference:https://kitashiga.net/) 
https://www.ryuoo.com/summer/
https://japan-skiguide.com/guide/htm/r0023ens.htm

③ Jigokudani Yaen Koen
Address:6845 Yamanouchi-machi Shimotakai-gun Nagano
TEL:+81-269-33-4379
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 90 mins→JR Nagano Station→[Nagano Dentetsu Limited Express] Approx. 45 mins→ Yudanaka→[Bus] Approx. 15 mins→Snow Monkey Park→[Walk] Approx. 35 mins
(Reference:https://en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/)

About Kanazawa

Unlike Nagano, the prefecture of Ishikawa sits on the coastline looking out to the Sea of Japan and is about 2.5 hours Shinkansen ride away from Tokyo. Centered in Kanazawa, Ishikawa is known for its well-preserved history and traditions over the years. Although the mountainous regions of the prefecture are prone to heavy snowfall, snow in the city center of Kanazawa does not stick around. This is because the city has a system installed that uses underground water to help melt the snow.

Still, Kanazawa has its own unique winter scenery that can be found in Kenrokuen. In order to protect the trees of the renowned Japanese garden from damage by heavy snow, the Yukitsuri traditional technique is used where a cone-shaped structure formed by ropes is hung over the topiary to reinforce the branches. Every February, this curious combination of man-made structures and nature are lit up at night to create a beautiful picture of the cold season that you can seldom find somewhere else.

A snowy view of the city itself might be rare, but it is not impossible to see one. Your best chances are in the early morning after a snowy night, when you might be able to witness the beautiful Kenrokuen draped in a snowy blanket just before it melts.

Muslim-friendly Hotels near Kanazawa :

③ Ishikawa Prefecture:Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel

Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel is highly recommended for its warm hospitality and Muslim-friendliness. Give them a call in advance and they will ensure you a prayer space and the appropriate meals. As for sightseeing around Kanazawa itself, utilizing the Kanazawa Loop Bus would be best. Departing from Kanazawa Station, the bus line loops around all the major tourist spots, like Kenrokuen and the “Higashi Chaya District”, where the historic cityscape of traditional Japanese wooden shopfronts is well-preserved. It also goes to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa that is famous for the “Swimming Pool”, a fake pool installation allowing both people on the surface and underground to see each other through the illusion of looking through water.

The hotel is also at a convenient location for travelers hungry for some skiing action, to go to both the Hakusan Ichirino Onsen Ski Resort and the Hakusan Seymour Ski Resort.

Address:Ru-8 Onuka-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 160 mins→JR Kanazawa Station→[Bus] Approx. 30 mins→ Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel-mae Bus Stop
      Tokyo Station Kajibashi Parking Lot→[Expressway bus] Approx. 8 hours 20 mins→ Kanazawa Station→[Bus] Approx. 30 mins→ Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel-mae Bus Stop
Snowy Period:
Kanazawa Central Region / Snowfall in late December – February, but does not stick around
Mountainous Region / Mid-December – Mid-March
Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel

Tourist Spots near Kanazawa Kokusai Hotel

① Kenrokuen
Address:1-1, Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa
TEL:+81-76-234-3800
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 160 mins→JR Kanazawa Station→[Kanazawa Loop Bus] Approx. 15 mins
Opening Hours:1st March~15th October / 7:00~18:00 (Exit Time)
       16th October~End of February / 8:00~17:00 (Exit Time)
Opening Period: All-year-round
Admission Fee: Adult (Age of 19 or above) JPY320YEN / Child (Age of 6~18) JPY100

(Reference:https://www.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp/spot/detail_10106.html)

② Higashi Chaya
Address:Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 160 mins→JR Kanazawa Station→[Kanazawa Loop Bus] Approx. 10 mins
(Reference:https://www.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp/)

③ 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Address:1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa
TEL:+81-(0)76-220-2800
Access:JR Tokyo Station→[Shinkansen] Approx. 160 mins→JR Kanazawa Station→[Kanazawa Loop Bus] Approx. 20 mins
Opening Hours: Exhibition Zone / 10:00~18:00 (Fri, Sat ~20:00)
       Public Zone / Currently 9:00〜19:00 (Fri, Sat ~21:00)
Admission Fee:
Exhibition Zone / Depends on exhibition
Public Zone / Free
(Reference:https://www.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp/spot/detail_10066.html)

④ SAM Hakusan Ichirino Ski Resort
Address:63, Ri, Ozo, Hakusan, Ishikawa
TEL:+81-76-256-7412
Access:Only during skiing season. Kanazawa Station→[Shuttle] Approx. 80 mins→ Hakusan Ichirino Ski Resort
Park Description: 9 trails of varying difficulties up to advanced, with more courses aimed for novices. A children park for families. Only allows skiing and snowboarding.
Opening Period: Mid-December ~ Mid-March
(Reference:http://www.sam-hakusan-en.com/http://sam-hakusan.com/bus/)

⑤Hakusan Seimour Ski Resort
Address:Utsuou, Kawachi Machi, Hakusan, Ishikawa
TEL:+81-76-273-0331
Opening Period: Mid-December ~ Mid-March
Access:(Only during skiing season) Kanazawa Station→[Shuttle] Approx. 60 mins→ Hakusan Seimour Ski Resort
Park Description: Suitable for beginners to advanced skiers, but more towards advanced trails. Allows unconventional winter sports gears such as snowskate and snowscoot.
(Reference:http://sam-hakusan.com/seymour/school/http://sam-hakusan.com/bus/)

The Chubu region is the destination to be for breathtaking snowy landscapes, thrilling winter sports and an overall unforgettable winter experience in Japan. As highlighted here, there are several Muslim-friendly accommodations available right around major tourist spots, allowing you to comfortably travel, sightsee, and even ski to your heart’s content!