Pete & Alex Do Japan | 6D5N Father-Son holiday to Tokyo and Hakuba
Pete and Alex have just headed off on their Father-Son bonding holiday: 6D5N in Japan (Tokyo and Hakuba) where Pete plans to eat his bodyweight in sashimi, touch snow for the first time, and meet Elsa to profess his undying love (read: go to Tokyo Disney).
I sat up until the wee hours of the morning writing them a little travelling companion (aka a detailed itinerary or trip tips/trip notes), so here they are, in case you have half a mind to follow along (either vicariously, or on a Father-Son trip of your own!). I've also managed to convince Alex to write a little travel journal, so I'll add them in below too. If you want to see what we packed for their trip, check this post out.
Happy travels! xx Love, Mama
Pete's excitement overflowing while waiting to leave from Changi Airport Terminal 4
Oh, my darling boys, welcome to the start of your amazing holiday together. I hope you have a wonderful time exploring Japan with each other.
I know dad will want to check, so for ease of reference, $1 SGD = 80 Yen.
- You’re flying Cathay Pacific on flight CX0658 which leaves Changi Terminal 4 at 10am and arrives in Hong Kong Terminal 1 at 2:05pm.
- You have a 2 hour, 15 minute layover in HK.
- Your flight CX0542 leaves Hong Kong Terminal 1 at 4:25pm and arrives at Haneda Airport (International Terminal) at 9:15pm.
Getting to your accommodation
- Your hotel has a shuttle bus which leaves at 10:30pm and 10:45pm.
- Please get on the bus labelled “Keikyu EX Inn Haneda”; it's a 10 minute drive from the airport to your hotel.
- Alternatively, catch a taxi to:
- You have a large single bed and you’re staying here for one night.
- The bill has been paid for, but you will still need to pay for taxes and breakfast.
Alex's travel journal: I know we used points, so beggars can't be choosers, but it would've been much better to get a direct flight. The first flight was a really old plane and the audio didn't work in our seats (so yes, I guess you were right to tell me to download Paw Patrol on Netflix last night). The second plane out of Hong Kong was brand new. I guess it was ok to have two four-hour flights, maybe if I was travelling with Jack (2yo) instead.
Good morning! Today you’re heading to the Hakuba snowfields. It will be a long trip, so grab a solid brekky at the hotel or a nearby bakery, checkout of your hotel, and walk 5 minutes to TENKUBASHI STATION.
Train to Nagano
- Catch the Tokyo Monorail (Local) for HAMAMATSUCHO and get off at HAMAMATSUCHO STATION (19 minute journey)
- At this station purchase a “JR EAST PASS (Nagano and Niigata area)” only for Alex (18,330 Yen) as kids under 6 ride for free. All your train rides will now be included for the remainder of your holiday.
- Catch the JR Yamanote Line (Inner loop) for OSAKI and get off at TOKYO STATION (7 minute journey) which will arrive at underground platforms #1-4. There’s quite an eye-opening hike up to the Shinkansen Bullet trains which leave from platforms #20-23.
- Catch one of the frequent bullet trains to NAGANO STATION (journeys range from 87-109 minutes).
- Estimated time and cost: 1 hour, ¥2000 for adults, ¥1000 for children aged 6 to 11 with children 5 and younger free if they do not use a seat.
- From the east exit of Nagano Station, take the elevator on the left down to the ground floor, then buy your tickets from the shop closest to the elevator (they only accept cash) and go to bus stop #26. Here you will find the Alpico bus bound for Hakuba destinations leaving roughly every hour.
- Once your know the ETD of your bus, call the hotel at +81 261 72 3939 to arrange them to pick you up from HAPPO BUS TERMINAL (or just walk as it’s only 5 minutes)
- Bus leaves Nagano, arrives Happo:
Getting to your accommodation
- Your hotel has a shuttle bus which will collect you from HAPPO BUS TERMINAL, so long as you advise them of your ETA.
- It’s a 5 minute walk.
Hokujo 3353, Hakuba, 399-9301
Ph: +81 261 72 3939
- You have two single beds and you’re staying here for two nights.
- The bill has not been paid yet.
- To eat dinner at the hotel, a booking must be made at least one day in advance.
- It has an indoor and outdoor onsen, try it out!
- You’re a 5-minute walk from Hakuba Happo-One Ski Resort.
- They have a bunny slope called “Sakka Kids Park”
- Sleds and play equipment is free to rent, but you need to pay 800 Yen ($10) daily admission (or 1000 Yen including a merry-go-round ticket).
- Opening hours are 9:30 - 16:00.
- Ski /Snowboard Area: There is a moving carpet (conveyor belt) for beginners to ride up the 70 meters slope.
- Sled/Toboggan Area: It is 50 meters in length and consists of a flat slope but also is a little tricky with a new wave course. You can choose from 4 types of toboggans (all you can ride for free).
- Snow Play Area: Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, roll around on the snow. There are also a variety of items for kids to enjoy, such as a mini trampoline and snow walls.
If you want to take a break, they have two ‘Kid Spaces’:
- Usagidaira Kids Space is upstairs from the Gondola lift in Usagidaira. Kids can rest, take a nap &/or play quietly here. This space best suits young children under 6 years old. There is also a great choice of restaurants to enjoy a snack, lunch or break time in between skiing and riding. Kids space is free, tables and chairs are also set up beside the playpen for family members to take lunch and relax with their kids.
- Sakka Snow Plaza Kids Space is located at the back of the cafeteria hall inside Sakka Snow Plaza. A relaxing, easy-going area for young children and families to take a break during their ski and ride time.
Alex's travel journal: Pete had a lot of fun along the journey (excited by the different trains: monorail, bullet train etc). Amazingly, he wasn’t too bothered by the cold and would have stayed outside all night if I didn’t lure him home with ice cream (I know, I know, no sugar before bed). Well done on the hotel - it's really good (room size, food, location is excellent). Don't tell me how much it cost. I was really impressed with how much snow fell overnight. For some reason I didn't think this was a prime ski area, but it's looking really good.
I didn't realise what a long trip it would be to get here (~ two full days) which is tiring for me. Seems a huge effort for essentially one day at snow, but if we came with the whole family, I guess we'd stay longer - plus if we'd managed to get that hotel near to Nagano train station (rather than Hakuba, which is a 1-2 hour bus ride from Nagano), then it would've been much quicker and less tiring. The restaurants are very full - I need to be organised to get in somewhere good. And I can't remember much from when I did a language course here ten years ago, so I had a pretty tough time trying to get on the monorail as the staff spoke no English. I think the remote places (for language) are tougher than in town.
More snow fun! But also dad can ask the hotel about getting to the Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) where you can see wild snow monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring!
Alex's travel journal: Pete had a blast in the snow! He played the whole day outside building snow men and snow balls, running around like a madman. We couldn't walk more than two metres without him making a snowball. The snow quality was great; it snowed continuously the whole time which made the atmosphere all the better. Pete’s very keen to come back again and teach Jack (his 2 year old brother) how to ski, since apparently he knows how now (by seeing it in a book!?).
While the website looked great, the Happo-One Sakka Kids' Park was virtually non existent. The place was apparently closed but no one seemed to know or be able to explain why. It didn’t look like it had been open for a long time. Although our hotel was only a few minutes' walk from Happo-One, the Kids' Park was on the other side of the ski field and it ended up being a long way away from our hotel (a 45 minute uphill walk). In hindsight we didn’t need to go there at all and could have just played at the area right in front of our hotel because all Pete wanted was snow. In hindsight, if I knew the Kids' Park was closed I would have rented a sled for him at the nearest hire place, but he didn't really notice, he was too preoccupied playing in the snow. Also, we probably could have stayed an extra day and invested the time for Pete to have a learn to ski lesson or two.
Take your time checking out of your hotel and head back to Tokyo (pretty much the same way you came).
Getting to your accommodation
- This time, after getting to TOKYO STATION, take the JR KEIYO LINE to JR MAIHAMA station (20 minute journey).
- Please come up to the "Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome center" located on the left side of southern automated automated ticket gate in JR MAIHAMA station. This will pop you out on the second level. Head down to the first floor and look for a counter labelled “Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel First Resort” to catch the shuttle bus.
- This is one of the official Disney Hotels so they should let you into the park 15 minutes earlier than the public, and hopefully you can buy your tickets at the hotel (they offer guaranteed entry to Disneyland).
- You have two single beds and you’re staying here two nights.
Alex's travel journal: It was a fairly smooth transit from Hakuba back to Tokyo (Maihama Disneyland); although it took whole day. I found this tiring, but again, Pete was pretty fascinated by the buses, trains and the view, so he was a happy camper. Having said that, he conked out once we got to the hotel.
After we got off the bus from Hakuba to Nagano, we headed off on a Bay Blade hunt and made our way to Toys'R'Us in Nagano which was a bit of a hefty walk from the bus terminal. I dislike toy shops in Japan and Singapore in equal measures, so while this was a highlight for Pete, I can't say the same for me.
My biggest beef when in transit was trying to find Pete-friendly food on the go (ie. something that His Fussiness will eat that isn't laden with sugar). I guess a little foresight could've had me buying some healthier snack-like things before we left the major centres.
Alex's travel journal: Pete absolutely loved it - he enjoyed it as much as the snow. He was tall enough to get on the fast rides (space mountain, splash mountain etc) which was great as they were his favourite rides. I was worried before that he wouldn’t like them, but he hasn't inherited his mum's fear of rollercoasters (thank God for small mercies).
It was freeeeeezing cold because of the wind chill, which made standing in lines a challenge (would recommend going back in spring or autumn as last time we were here summer it was stinking hot). Good quality adult food was hard to find, but when in Rome...
You’re coming home today! I can’t wait to see you. You need to leave the hotel by 8am, as it will take you just under an hour to get to the airport and your flight leaves at 10:45am.
Getting to the airport
- Catch a taxi or walk to MAIHAMA STATION (the hotel shuttle only operates on weekends).
- Get on the JR Keiyo Line (Local) for TOKYO, go two stops and get off at SHIN-KIBA STATION (7 minute journey).
- Catch the Rinkai Line for OSAKI, go four stops and get off at TENNOZU-ISLE STATION (10 minute journey).
- Catch the Tokyo Monorail (Local) for HANEDA AIRPORT TERMINAL 2, go six stops and get off at HANEDA AIRPORT INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL (13 minute journey), then follow the signs to international departures.
- Or, if this sounds like too many transfers, ask the hotel to book the Haneda Airport Limousine Bus for you.
- You’re flying Cathay Pacific on flight CX0543 which leaves Haneda Airport (International Terminal) at 10:45am and arrives in Hong Kong Terminal 1 at 3:00pm.
- You have a short 1 hour layover in HK.
- Your flight CX0657 leaves Hong Kong Terminal 1 at 4:00pm and arrives at Changi Terminal 4 at 8:10pm.
Alex's travel journal: I'm sick of writing a travel journal. The flight home - was a very long trip. Pete was very much exhausted at the end of it.