After enjoying the winter wonderland of the Hakuba area, it’s time for some après-ski—an idea that should be applicable even if you haven’t braved the slopes. Whether you’ve been skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just relaxing in an onsen, don’t miss out on the chance to experience some nocturnal recreation in Hakuba.
Echoland functions as the hub for the region, connecting out to the resorts in the area, and connecting Hakuba visitors in the evening.
There is no shortage of chill izakayas in Echoland to get the night started, but Sarugaku, a particularly cozy spot off one of Echoland’s main drags, is an ideal place to start a night out.
The brief menu’s dishes have their ingredients sourced mainly from local suppliers and change with the season. Lay the groundwork with an order of soba, then put down a couple of glasses of shochu.
Sarugaku is also notable for its horse meat: try the fatty meat from the neck of the horse, or seared slices of tenderloin.
Whether this is your launchpad to a night exploring Echoland or you plan to close out the night here, Sarugaku is a great choice.
Hakuba Yokocho 白馬横丁
Hakuba Yokocho is a quirky detour and the best spot in Echoland to grab a snack out in the open air. The Yokocho collects a variety of street stalls, yatai and open-air restaurants, into one welcoming base camp. The usual yatai favorites are represented, as well as Nagano specialties.
If you’re coming down the mountain with stomach growling, the stalls at Hakuba Yokocho have got you covered.
The Globe Bar
The Globe Bar, just across the road from Sarugaku, is a newcomer to the Echoland scene but has become popular with the après-ski crowd, many of whom stay at the nearby Shakespeare Hotel.
The emphasis is on stick-to-your-ribs pub fare, like shepherd's pie, and that Anglophilic bent extends to the room in general, recalling any number of English pubs across the archipelago.
This is a good spot to build a party to hit other spots around Echoland, too.
The next stop could be Mocking Bird, for example.
Mocking Bird could be airlifted out of Hakuba and set down in Whistler or Queenstown and not feel out of place.
The multilingual, multicultural crowd has made Mocking Bird a favorite with Hakuba powder hounds.
Stop by on the right night and you can hear local musicians or DJs playing, enjoy a beer, and soak up the international vibe of Hakuba.
The funky little bar connected to Nomad Hakuba is meant to evoke a Showa Era snack bar, and despite its pristine sheen and good lighting, it does call to mind the kind of dingy backstreet bar that can be found in old neighborhoods in Tokyo and Osaka.
They also have a knack for tracking down fairly rare bottles of Japanese single malt whiskey. That means you can sip pedestrian grails like the 17-year-old Hibiki, but it’s also a chance to get a dram of even more esoteric stuff.
- Nomad Hakuba
- 3020-880, Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
At this Echoland stalwart, which brands itself as a “country-western-style bar,” however shaky that claim to authenticity might be, they get the basics right: blue cheese with wings, a good selection of whiskey, and a homey atmosphere. In many ways the Platonic ideal of a resort town pub, Cherry hits all the right notes—even if the ski bums belting out karaoke on the second floor might not.
Hakuba doesn’t have the go-all-night club scene of Tokyo—gotta hit the slopes in the morning, after all—but Hakuba 902 has to be one of the best places to ensure you’re going to be a little slower getting to the lifts when the sun comes up the next day. The vaguely East German facade of 902 conceals a hip space popular with local DJs.
As a bonus, stashed in the bunker-like tower are nearly ten thousand LPs, available to play on a more-than-decent sound system. The party usually gets started a bit later than other Echoland spots, and the crowd there reliably pushes things until the early hours.
- Studio 902
- Nagano Kita-azumi-gun Hakubamura Kita Jo Eco-Land 3020-902