Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Fuji Rock Pro Tips



Hello again everyone!

In the end of July, Japan's biggest music festival, Fuji Rock Festival, was held again here in Snow
Country at the Naeba Ski Resort. According to a ranking of 250 worldwide music festivals by Festival Insights, Fuji Rock is the third-best music festival in the world, and is the only Asia-based festival even ranked among the Top 50. Fuji Rock is a big deal, and it is held here in the heart of Snow Country.

In 2018. the Fuji Rock Festival will be held July 27-29, so I want to give you some tips so you can make your trip to Fuji Rock the best one possible.

1. PLAN EARLY

The best advice I can give you for anything related to Fuji Rock is to plan early. In 2017, approximately 125,000 visitors attended Fuji Rock, so this place is very busy and crowded during the Festival. If you wait until the last few weeks before the festival is going to be held to start making plans, you will be left with just the last few hotel rooms, less-convenient train times, and perhaps no Fuji Rock Buses from around Japan to the festival.

I recommend you start thinking about your trip to Fuji Rock approximately 6 months in advance and contact us as early as you can to start making bookings. Many hotels inform us of their rates for Fuji Rock by March or April. We can help you plan your transportation even before the hotel rates have been established.

2. PRE-BOOK YOUR TRANSPORTATION

Very closely related to #1 is my recommendation to pre-book your transportation. This is very important if you want an easy ride to the festival.

Shuttles

Fuji Rock Festival runs plenty of special shuttles from all around Japan straight to the festival and back at the end. Shuttles leave from a variety of locations around Tokyo. In 2017, those locations included Haneda Airport, Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, Ikebukuro Station, and more. If you are traveling in Osaka or Kyoto, Fuji Rock offers buses from there as well. Be sure to let us know where you're traveling, and we will let you know where the nearest bus is.

In 2017, the shuttle buses sold out approximately one month before the Festival was held.

Shinkansen (Bullet Trains)

Reserved seats on bullet trains also sell out before the festival starts. The most popular times end up being sold out about a week or two in advance, but some of the less convenient times (early morning and late in the evening) run out of tickets closer to the festival.

Also, you can ride the shinkansen without a reserved seat, but during Fuji Rock Festival, you will need to be prepared to stand the whole ride. The unreserved seats are limited in number, but you will be able to stand in the unreserved train cars.

Local Trains

If you find yourself with more time than yen, you could also ride local trains from wherever you are in Japan to Echigo-Yuzawa Station. You cannot reserve seats on these local trains, but the ride to Yuzawa from Tokyo is beautiful on the local trains. So if you have the time this might be a great option for you.

3. COME TO THE PRE-FESTIVAL NIGHT

On the Thursday preceding the festival, Fuji Rock holds a one-night zen-ya-sai, which means pre-festival night. This night is low-key introduction to the atmosphere and excitement of Fuji Rock, opening with traditional Japanese dancing, fireworks, and a free concert. If you come one day early to the festival, you also don't have to miss anything on the first full day of the festival, since you will have already traveled, checked in (or set up your tent), and gotten a full night's sleep. 

4. TRY CAMPING

If you're having trouble finding accommodations within your budget, why not try camping at Fuji Rock? The campgrounds are adjacent to the festival site, so you will be closer to the festival than you would be at any hotel.

Do be aware that the end of July is part of the rainy season in Japan, but it doesn't rain every year at the festival. We rent camping gear on our main page, so you can be sure you'll stay dry with our inspected and clean equipment.



5. PLAN YOUR DAYS AT THE FESTIVAL

So many bands play at Fuji Rock Festival, that it might seem a bit overwhelming, or you may not know where to go when. The organizers release a concert schedule about a month before the festival begins. I recommend you look closely at that schedule and plan where you will go and what you will do so you don't miss a show you are looking forward to!

6. USE OUR FUJI ROCK MAP

We have put together a map for all things related to Fuji Rock Festival. As you put together your plans to attend Fuji Rock, please look closely at this map and choose times and locations for your buses or trains, and look at the locations of your accommodations and the various stages.





Friday, August 4, 2017

Nagaoka Fireworks 2017

Hello everyone!

We are glad to be back again after a long absence from the blog!

Last night was the 2017 Nagaoka Fireworks Festival. This festival is held every year on August 2 and 3, running from approximately 7:15 pm to 9:15 pm. The fireworks display is recognized as one of the largest in the country, and is quite a sight to behold.

Some of the largest fireworks in the world are launched during this event, and you can feel each blast of the rockets as they are launched and burst above the river. If you would like to reserve good seats next year, be sure to contact Hop Step Japan early.

The fireworks start just as the sun is setting, which makes for some incredible scenery.

Hello Kitty fireworks!

Phoenix Fireworks over the Shinano River

One man was so overcome with excitement that he stood up and raised double peace signs to the skies.
Join us next year for the greatest fireworks display you will ever see, where you can get delicious festival food; sit near the river, practically under the fireworks; and relax on a beautiful summer night.

Many people book their tickets and accommodations very early for this festival, so please contact us as soon as you decide to go. Even if all the hotels in Nagaoka itself are booked up, you can take a 30-minute train ride back to Yuzawa and spend a night at one of the many luxurious Japanese-style hotels (ryokan) available. We will be glad to help you make all the arrangements you need for 2018's Nagaoka Fireworks Festival and beyond!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dog Sled & Ski Slalom in Yuzawa - Sunday February 1st

An event based around dogs and snow can only be fun. Head to Nakazato Ski Resort on Sunday February 1st and you can check out the 7th Dog Sled/Ski Slalom Race.

If you have a dog and a long enough leash you are welcome to join in. No experience required for either canine or human. Competitor registration starts from 0820 with the main event kicking off at 0940. There will be some proper sled dogs around but also expect lots of people out for some fun on the slopes with their four-legged friends. [Please send us photos of any dogs in ridiculous outfits!]



Anyone got a dog they can lend me?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Big Winter for Snow

It has been an amazing start to the winter season with lots of snow falling since mid-December. There are all sorts of statistics being thrown around: best start to the season for a decade, more snow by early Jan than the whole winter last year....

One of our favorite places to go to for snow information in the Snow Country region is the Tsunan town website. Tsunan is just on the border of Niigata/Nagano and always seems to get masses of snow. They have a daily update of temperatures, snowfall and snow depth. It makes for great reading and there is even a comparison with the same date last year.


This is the Tsunan Town Snow Information Page
Scroll town for the tables with the snow data starting in November.
Here is the table for December
Date on the left
The next four columns are for the town hall and are (1) temperature at 0900, (2) snowfall for the 24 hours, (3) snow depth at 0900, and finally (4) snow depth for same date last year.
The next four columns are for a different location in Tsunan.


The numbers for the snowfall in the day show you what a big winter we are having.

It's not called Snow Country for nothing!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Candle Live 2015 - Saturday January 17th

The crazy busy period of Christmas/New Year has passed, so we can all kick back and take a bit of a breather. Time to enjoy the snow (locals are saying that the snow levels are more like February than January!) and also some of the upcoming events.

Saturday January 17th sees the return of the ever-popular Candle Live event in Yuzawa. Thousands of candles light up a ski slope and there are a whole host of events going on around town.



Candle Live has been moving around in recent years, but this year it is going to be centered along the main Onsen Street on the West Side of Echigo-Yuzawa Station. Things are due to kick off around 6.30pm and there should be plenty to see and do for a couple of hours after that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sushi Making and Sake Tasting Tour

Fancy a day off from the slopes? Or have someone in your party who doesn't ski or snowboard and is looking for something interesting to do in Yuzawa? We have just the thing for you...

This is a tour that should appeal to everyone with a love of Japanese cuisine.


Introducing the Sushi Making and Sake Tasting Tour.

One of Yuzawa's top sushi chefs will teach you how to handcraft sushi, after which you will be able to eat the fruits of your labor.

It is then off to Yuzawa's famous Shirataki Brewery to learn all about how they produce such a delicious easy-drinking tipple. Of course no brewery tour is complete without tasting the finished product.

A true gourmet experience!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Restaurants in Yuzawa

We would recommend that everybody experience a dinner in a ryokan. The multi-course banquets that are served for the evening meals are seriously impressive. The flavors are out of this world (even if you might not be 100% sure what you are eating!) and the presentation is so good you might not want to disturb it.

For other dining choices, people staying in Yuzawa have plenty of options. There are restaurants all over the place serving a wide variety of styles of cuisine. No matter what you are in the mood for, there is a good chance someone somewhere has it on the menu.

We have put together a list of some of our favorites and are happy to make recommendations (or bookings) if you require.


Food and Drinks in Yuzawa