Settled within the mountain alps of the Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba-mura is a city filled with ski slopes, snowboarding areas, and other winter sports. It is an extraordinary ski resort that is encompassed by the Japanese Alps. The snow is abundant and there is plenty of space to perform or train your skills. There are also a lot of dining places that serve exquisite Japanese dishes. The world-class ski area and the stunning mountains make Hakuba –mura a favorite travel destination for winter sports enthusiast and avid mountain hikers.
When To Go:
The ski & snowboard season here is a long one, starting when there’s satisfactory snow, ordinarily towards the end of November, and proceeding until Japan’s so-called golden week which occurs during the first week of May. There’s no such thing as certainty in the realm of ski conditions, however generally by the first week of December there’s enough snow that the highest points of the enormous resorts are open. It is conceivable to ride powder as ahead of schedule as mid-November, yet it’s likewise conceivable to be closed out with no snow whatsoever. In this light, diehards looking to come in November best pay attention to the current conditions and figure out plans in case the slopes are closed.
The prime travel season is from the third week of December all the way up through the month of February. This is the ideal time to go to the city of Hakuba, when magnificent conditions are the standard and the valley is pretty much occupied. During this time, you’ll find all of the restaurants busy and plenty of nightlife & entertainment options. The winter conditions can be particularly amazing and since the city has a total of 12 resorts extending more than 30km from East to West, everyday conditions at the different resorts can vary extraordinarily.
The so-called shoulder months or season has a mix of humidity, snow-capped Alps, sunny days, fewer crowds, a few discounts on accommodations, and more outdoor excursions to Hakuba.
The fall season from April until May is also ideal for skiing and recreation purposes as well as for hiking the tallest peaks of Hakuba. The snow is still present and beautiful at this time. Don’t forget to carry your camera, snow boots and your sense of adventure to pursue and see all of the city’s tourist attractions.
Here are the top sites and variety of
things to do
in the city of Hakuba-mura:
Mt. Shirouma is an extraordinary slope where you can stroll and admire the astonishing views and perspectives. The further you go into the hike the more difficult it becomes. There are also lots of opportunities for great photos. Mt. Shirouma, (translated as “White Horse Mountain” in Japanese) according to recent statistics is one of Japan’s most dangerous mountains to hike. At least one person dies each year attempting the hike.
After the huge 7000cm. landslide of 2005 claimed the life of one climber and harmed two other people along the Daisekkei Valley, a group of Japanese scientists distinguished various kinds of elements whose presence makes the valley particularly perilous. The inclined points surpassing more than 50 degrees (nearly vertical) exist in the upper spans of the U-shaped frosty valley. The central region of the landscape is 200m over the valley floor and various rock pieces still stay there, expanding the possibilities of a possible landslide.
The territory is inclined to continuous torrential slides and times of exceptional precipitation & snowfall (46 mm of precipitation were recorded on Aug. 10, the day preceding the above avalanche). There is also an overabundance of frigid rock flotsam and jetsam, which can be lethal in the occasion of a rockslide. Regular defrost cycles irritate both the high and low thickness rock joints, expanding the probability of future partition of rock squares from its rock walls and disastrous slant disappointments.
Mt. Shirouma is classified as one of Japan’s most famous mountains even among non-natives and is accessible from the Tokyo & Osaka metropolitan areas. How easy it is to get there makes it quite packed from late July to mid-August. Trekking visits organized by business outside aides for novice climbers have become more popular lately. When attempting this challenging trail, be sure to have extreme caution and stay aware of the dangerous areas – even when participating in group tours and expeditions.
The tourist site of Happoone is recognized as one of the greatest among the row of the Hakuba resorts in the city. Happoone (pronounced as happo-nay) is the main resort where most people go, likely because it has the most ski runs. On top of the mountain, you can find the restaurant Pilar, a famous site that is known for its phenomenal dishes and service. There is also an extraordinary little pizza joint that offers huge pizzas. One is surely more than enough for four or five individuals. Skiing, a couple of chalets as well as recreational ski centers are also available for everyone to enjoy.
The site is attractive for its incredible snowboarding and skiing areas and is dotted with cool little bars and restaurants. The quality of the food will keep you happy for a few weeks, and the inn and bar staff are all inviting and constantly available to attend to your needs. There are ATM booths if ever you run out of cash and VISA/MasterCard is accepted by some shops and eateries as well. The Gondola Hotel is a reliable place to stay; it has great food (including burgers) readily available at their fabulous dining lounge.
It is a long and harsh walk to see Happp Pond, and you won’t see anything amazing once you get there, but it is still a walk worth taking. The lake is rather insignificant, however, the walk, the organization and the landscape are very staggering and combine to form a good climbing excursion that you can enjoy together with your friends or family. Once you get to the lake area, the view is astonishing and it will all be worth it.
Bring your trekking shoes and additional layers of clothing because even in October it gets truly icy up there pass the mists. There is a cable car ride that you can take instead of hiking, but it is somewhat pricey at 2,000 yen. Plus, when you walk, you can take pictures of the beautiful Alpena blooms that you pass along the way.
The challenging trek to Happo Pond will reward you with lovely vistas at the top. For easy access to this site, the journey starts from the JR Hakuba Station where you must ride bus No 2 to reach the Happo Pond bus station. From here it’s a good 15 minutes stroll leading to the Happo Gondola Ride Terminal. The 10-minute gondola ride will take you to the top station – Usagidaira Station. From here you can take either one chairlift to the following station or two chairlifts before beginning the trek to the pond. It takes around 2 hours to get to the lake, which is 2,000 meters up through a blend of rough heights and wooden pathways. Along the way, you’ll get to see some wild blooms and old trees. The views are majestic on a sunny morning. This site is free and you should visit it more than once while you’re in Hakuba-mura City.
Hakuba Jump Arena
To get access to the Hakuba Jump Arena you can purchase a ticket and utilize the chair lift ride that starts from the base of the Jump up to another cable ride that will take you up to the observation deck. Once there, you can see all of the activities along the slopes.
From here you can access the highest point of the ski bounce and gain a gigantic perspective of the valley. This is an extraordinary spot to feel what the Jumper will experience when in a tough ski tournament. The exhibition also features information about the majority of the Winter Olympics held here along with the official memorabilia for each momentous event.
Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort / Alpine Garden
Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort / Alpine Garden
has ski tows that work in the off-season empowering the less dauntless climbers some break between the more troublesome climbs. There are some helpful offices that explain how you can access the sites here. If it is your first time visiting Hakuba, Goryu is an ideal slope to practice your moves. The slopes here are wide and sufficiently long to advance on. It is a good spot for the amateur or newbie ski enthusiast who wants to hone their skills one notch higher.
The food here is likewise extraordinary and you will love the restaurants as an afterthought of the nearby “green run.” Seeing Yogorino at the base is a real delight because you will see the incredible scope runs, from completely open fields to long and manageable tracks. The recreation center looks extraordinary and the tickets include tons of options for things to do. The slopes are spacious and sufficient enough to accommodate a great number of professional ski athletes and amateurs alike. Be sure to check out the cool slopes of this site if you’re in Hakuba.
Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort
At the Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort you can find a variety of mountain trails- there are simple ones and there are some that are very difficult. Particularly fun are the Olympic tracks where visitors can try their hand at skating. The ski resort and its slopes are wide and moderately steep, but one of the downsides is the unpredictable weather.
There are moments here when it will be snowing, making the hike along the trail a bit difficult because nothing can be seen. Other times it can be warm and then there will be sudden rain. In short, the weather here is very unpredictable. Nevertheless, the resort is very picturesque and pleasant. Everywhere on the mountain you can find cafes and excellent restaurants to eat udon, ramen, sushi, or any type of Japanese food while admiring the great scenery of the slopes.
Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort/Lily Farm & Mountain View
The Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort/Lily Farm & Mountain View is one of the twelve resorts where you can ski along the Iwatake area and engage in lots of fun hikes and adventures along its mighty slopes. If you go on a clear day, you can witness a splendid day with blue skies, great snow, and no long lines to ride the chairlifts, and anything else you might desire. The restaurant on the slope offers the best Japanese dishes and basically a relaxing ambiance after an incredible day on the slopes.
It is a great resort that is extremely ideal for skiing. It is equipped with loads of variety on its runs and blessed with wide and large runs. You must try the famous red run. It is more than 3 km of ski ride from the top to the base which most tourists find amusing. This is the go-to resort when it’s too breezy in other ski resorts in Hakuba-mura. It has lower and more protected areas than the other resorts along the mountain and it is often open when the others are shut. There are challenging runs to keep better skiers intrigued, making it a decent stop as well. The food served here is pretty conventional and affordable.
Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park
Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park
is a ski and recreation complex that is extraordinary for anyone who wants to ski or improve their skill. For the amateur to the professional, this is the ideal attraction to visit. The gondola rides are great and you can sit inside and watch the experts ride the course which is exceptionally entertaining. There is something for everyone here, even a long trail with awesome perspectives for those wanting a simple run as well as some with steep downhill runs, just waiting to be conquered.
Tip: It is best to visit in the morning, before sunrise. Meeting at the base for a midday serving of local beer is a brilliant thought, on those uncommon days when it doesn’t snow. Be aware, however, that the place is like a bowl and quite steep. Think carefully before you try this one and bring a good guide who can help you conquer the difficult runs on this famous ski resort in Hakuba-mura.
Kurashita No Yu
The Kurashita No Yu is a spa resort equipped with geysers and natural swimming pools where you can unwind after rocking the icy Alps of Hakuba-maru. It is located 15 minutes away from the center of Hakuba and is accessible by foot in 5-8 minutes from the station. They have excellent accomadations and a very helpful staff. But in the winter season they hardly open and appointments must be arranged in advance. Inquire about their schedule of operations online or, even better, plan ahead and secure a reserved spot before actually going there.
Hakuba Happo Onsen
The Hakuba Happo Onsen
is a new and impressive onsen (spa) that you must visit in Hakuba-mura. It is child-friendly and was just recently established. The price is amazingly sensible and the overall interior of the spa resort is great – complete with indoor and outdoor spas that are readily available. It is situated along a busy road and it is not hard to find. Everything here is practically self-service, plus the staff is very cordial and attentive to all your needs to make you feel relaxed. You can have an extraordinary time after an overwhelming ski day. Admiring the snow while getting a soak in the hot spring makes this place truly stand out.
Hakuba-mura has flawlessly prepared slopes with loads of amateur and professional runs to make your visit worthwhile. Pick which mountain is most fitting to your level – it makes a difference. If you’re in Japan and a great fan of skiing, you can have the best holiday treading along the ski slopes of Hakuba-mura City. It is an extraordinary place with lots of budget friendly options.