Hakuba, located in the heart of the Northern Japanese Alps, is one of the most popular ski resorts in Japan. Residents of the Land of the Rising Sun have been coming here for vacations for more than 70 years. The rest of the world learned about the existence of Hakuba relatively recently – in 1998, the Winter Olympic Games were held in neighboring Nagano. The resort hosted cross-country skiing, slalom and ski jumping competitions. Many Olympic facilities have been preserved and are used for their intended purpose. There is a small but very interesting sports museum. Check jibin123 for customs regulations and visa requirements of Japan.
In addition to skiing, tourists are attracted here by well-maintained hot mountain springs and wild reservoirs, in which Japanese macaques like to bask in winter.
How to get to Hakuba
The popularity of Hakuba is due, among other things, to good transport links with the capital of Japan.
In Tokyo, you need to take the Hokuriko Shinkansen high-speed train to Nagano. The ticket costs 7680 JPY, travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes. Express buses run from Nagano to Hakuba. On the road 60-90 minutes, the fare is 1785 JPY.
There are direct trains from Tokyo Shinjuku Station to Hakuba. The journey takes 4 hours, the ticket price is about 6700 JPY.
In winter, 5-7 buses run daily from the same station to Hakuba. The journey lasts 4 hours and costs 4250 JPY. A round-trip ticket costs 8500 JPY, however, it must be used within 7 days. Also in winter, buses to Hakuba operate from Tokyo’s main Narita Airport. The trip takes 6 hours, the ticket costs 6917-7252 JPY.
Hakuba combines 10 resorts: Happoon, Hakuba 47-Goryu, Iwatake, Cortina, Sanosaka, Norikura, Yigitake, Kashimayari, Tsugaike Kogen and Yanaba. The most popular of them are the first 4.
Happoon is the largest resort with 26 ski lifts and a one-kilometer vertical drop. There are wide smooth slopes with several steep sections and a large selection of jumps and extreme tracks. Mostly pumped skiers ride.
The dual resort of Hakuba 47 Goryu is a variety of terrain and wonderful scenery for both beginners and pros. The low-mountain Goryu with its wide and calm slopes will be the first to approach, the longer high Hakuba 47 is already more terrible. It is located on the northwestern slope, the trails here are often darkened, which ensures a stable state of snow (it does not melt under the sun’s rays). Hakuba 47 boasts the only extreme park in the region.
When visiting Hakuba, it is better to have cash with you, as credit cards are practically not accepted anywhere here. You can buy yen at home or withdraw it upon arrival at an ATM at the airport.
Iwatake Resort is suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers, as well as families with children. There are both calm predictable slopes and wild places for extreme sportsmen.
Cortina is at the northern end of the Hakuba Valley. This resort is often undeservedly forgotten, but meanwhile it is here that the most snow falls in the region. This means that experienced skiers get the opportunity to ride with a breeze on freshly fallen snow.
The cost of a ski pass valid at all 10 resorts in Hakuba:
- 1 day — 5700 JPY;
- 3 days — 14,900 JPY;
- 5 days – 24,400 JPY;
- 7 days – 33,500 JPY.
Accommodation in Hakuba
Hakuba offers a wide range of accommodation. As with other ski resorts in Japan, most lodging options are classic chalets with European-style furnishings; there are few traditional Japanese hotels, ryokans, with their tatami and low tables. But there is a huge selection of apartments with equipped kitchens – a great opportunity to save on food.
Most accommodation options are located in the villages of Happo and Wadano. But in any case, housing will always be within walking distance from the ski lifts.
A standard room in a good hotel will cost 110,000 JPY per season for 7 days. A ryokane room costs from 75,000 JPY per week, an apartment – about 90,000 JPY for the same period.
What else to do
Not far from Hakuba is Yigokudani Park, the home of the famous Japanese snow macaques. Dozens of cute monkeys sit in a pond heated by a hot spring. Monkeys are already accustomed to tourists and let them get very close.
Tours to the monkeys are sold by many travel agencies in Hakuba. The main thing is not to forget to charge your camera or phone and clear the memory on the card, as you want to take pictures of cute monkeys endlessly.
The climate in Hakuba is quite mild, with cool winters and warm summers. In winter +5…+7 °С. With the onset of summer, short-term rains come, weak winds begin to blow. The air warms up to +25…+30 °C. But in general, the weather in summer can be called dry: precipitation falls mainly in winter.
The season starts in December and ends in May.
Up to 11 m of snow falls annually in Hakuba. Its quality is quite good, but still it is not as light as, for example, in Niseko. Experienced skiers note the snow coverage at the resorts in Cortina, Happoon and Hakub 47 Goryu.