Hakuba (Hakuba-mura) is a ski resort in Nagano Prefecture, Japan’s Chubu area. The name Hakuba, which means “white horse,” was inspired by the form of a horse made of snow on a mountainside during the spring season. Set in the magnificent Japanese Alps, Hakuba is made up of eleven different resorts, each with its own quaint hamlet offering a variety of fantastic stores and amenities. It is one of the country’s biggest skiing regions and has a high worldwide reputation, owing in part to the spectacular Olympic Ski Jumping Stadium on-site.
Hakuba earned international attention during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics when it held many olympic disciplines, including alpine (downhill, super g, and combined) and nordic (ski jump and cross country). Some of the Olympic facilities, such as the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium, are still in operation today. The Hakuba Olympic Village Memorial Hall, a modest but intriguing museum situated within walking distance of the ski jump, is well worth a visit.
Set in the magnificent Japanese Alps, Hakuba is made up of eleven different resorts, each with its own quaint hamlet offering a variety of fantastic stores and amenities. It is one of the country’s biggest skiing regions and has a high worldwide reputation, owing in part to the spectacular Olympic Ski Jumping Stadium on-site.
Cortina, Norikura, Tsugaike Kogen, Iwatake, Happo-One, Hakuba 47, Goryu, Sanosaka, Kashimayari, Jigatake, and Minekata are the unique resorts in Hakuba, each having their own distinct charm. Happo-One is the most family-friendly, featuring a wide range of activities for youngsters.
Hakuba is readily accessible not just from Tokyo, but also from the Nagoya and Kansai areas. While a day journey from Tokyo is conceivable, Hakuba is best appreciated overnight. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there are hot springs (onsen) in the area.
Hakuba – Info Card
- Average Snow Fall: 11 metres
- Ski Resorts: 9
- Vertical Drop: 1071 metres
- Gondolas: 5
- Lifts: 115
- Trails: 151
- Terrain Parks: 7
- Ski Hours: 07:30-22:00
- Ski Season: early Dec – early May
- Longest Run: 8 km
- Beginner Terrain: 30% – Plenty of beginner-friendly gentle open runs across Hakuba’s 10 ski resorts
- Intermediate Terrain: 40% – Vast green and red runs for improving and progressing. Powder on the sides of the pistes for those trying it for the first
- Advanced Terrain: 30% – Challenging steep groomed pistes and extensive off-piste and tree-skiing
- Backcountry Terrain: Extensive backcountry terrain options and backcountry guiding in English available
- Tree Skiing: Yes
- Half Pipe: Yes
- Night Skiing: Yes
- Snow Monkeys: Yes
Hakuba Ski Resorts
The Hakuba Valley is home to 11 ski resorts with a variety of terrain. The Hakuba ski resorts are not linked by slopes (save for Hakuba 47 and Goryu, and Cortina and Norikura), but they can be accessed with a single lift ticket, and there are free shuttle buses that run between them. From north to south, the ski resorts are: Cortina, Norikura, Tsugaike Kogen, Iwatake, Happo-One, Hakuba 47, Goryu, Sanosaka, Kashimayari, Jigatake, and Minekata, which lies on the other side of the valley from Hakuba. Check out the Ski Hakuba website for a breakdown of each ski region to help you pick which resorts to visit.
Hakuba’s terrain size is a big benefit, with 960 hectares of skiable terrain, 137km of piste and 200+ courses, 135 lifts (5 gondolas), and at least 9 terrain parks.
The skiing in Hakuba varies per resort, but it’s typically extremely good for beginners and intermediates, with several long nicely groomed lines and a spectacular fall-line. Advanced skiers and snowboarders will like the steep groomers at a handful of the resorts, and if you like bumps, you’ll love it. You may join the numerous Japanese people who admire moguls! Freestylers are adequately cared for as well.
Many of the Hakuba ski resorts’ strict attitude to tree skiing may irritate experienced riders. Some resorts are old-school severe, with off-piste skiing absolutely prohibited and rigorously policed, while others may accept a little amount of tree skiing, while Cortina is a casual freeriding powder hotspot.
On the bright side, if you’re willing to work for your turns, Hakuba backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be spectacular, and powder hunters should consider taking a backcountry trip.
Hakuba offers a wide range of accomodation options, from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels. There are several Hakuba hotels, as well as some Japanese-style pensions where you may sleep on the floor. Hakuba also contains self-contained homes and lodges. Hakuba lodging is available in a variety of settlements around ski regions, some of which are ski-in/ski-out or just a short walk from the slopes. The two most popular villages to stay in are Happo and Wadano.
Snow conditions in Hakuba
Hakuba’s high elevation benefits from great snow coverage, and the season spans from December to April, allowing skiers plenty of time to experience all of the resort’s wonders. Japan’s ski resorts are famous for their legendary powder and constant heavy snowfalls throughout the season. Each year, Hakuba receives an average of 11m of snow.
Facilities & Services
Hakuba boasts an abundance of infrastructure and utilities. Some of it is antiquated and from the bubble period, although many elevators, stores, and other facilities have been upgraded in recent years.
The major settlements of Hakuba (Happo, Wadano, and Echoland) have a plethora of ski rental businesses, and the workers understand English. There are several restaurants, and the nightlife is active (for a Japanese ski area). Childcare and ski and snowboard instruction are also provided for adults and children.
Apres ski, restaurants and other activities in Hakuba
In Hakuba, there are a plethora of great restaurants serving some of the best Japanese food available. Hummingbird is a popular restaurant where skiers can enjoy fresh meals in a picturesque setting.
In addition, visitors may visit the Olympic ski jumping hill to experience stunning views of the Japanese Alps, as well as tobogganing, snow-rating, and the outstanding hot springs.