- 1 Picture
- 2 Location
- 3 Pros
- 4 Cons
- 5 Contacts
- 6 Planning
- 7 Resort Facilities
- 8 Ride Guide
- 9 Other
Hakuba is located in Nagano Prefecture, in the Chubu region of Honshu, Japan's largest island.
As the crow flies it is 200km north west of Tokyo, 190km north north east of Nagoya, and 300km north east of Osaka.
The closest major cities are Nagano (32km west of Hakuba) and Matsumoto (50km south of Hakuba).
Hakuba is located on the old salt road, a route that brought supplies the Matsumoto Plain from the Japan Sea Coast.
Hakuba is easily accessed from Tokyo, either by bus train or taxi (with up to 10 people). The resort is faily familiar with Enslish speakers and provides for western food tastes. A wide range of accomodation is available, and there is an increasing large English speaking community living permanently in the valley (so you can find accommodation with English speakers).
There are 7 resorts in the valley, mostly accessible from bus or taxi, some are linked some are not. There is a good supply of ski gear and spare parts (including shops that stock backcountry, telemark and race gear).
Hakuba feels like a country town, spread out, with businesess and farms interspresed.
Snow fall is 14 meters in total, and you get 2 or 3 days of storm and then 2 or 3 days of sunshine. This means you can see where you are going and know the area, and when the storms arrive hit up the lines.
Not everything is within walking distance (though everything is about a $10 taxi ride away). Only Goryu and Hakuba47 are linked. All other resorts are spread up and down the valley. This is a bus service to most resorts.
It does not snow continually non stop like it does in Niseko. Proximity to Tokyo means the crowds can descend on public holidays (long weekends).
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From the Airport: Narita Airport (Tokyo)
Narita Airport - (JR Narita Express 60 min) - Tokyo - (JR Nagano Shinkansen 90-120min) - Nagano - (Alpico Bus 60 min) - Hakuba
Fare: Train - 10,280yen / Bus - 1,500yen / Total: 11,780yen
Disadvantages: Transiting Tokyo Station with ski luggage can be difficult in rush hour. Only possible if you arrive in Narita before 3PM. Transfers can add considerable time to the journey. If you are not on snow for a few days, consider using the Black Cat Ski Takkyubin service, which will deliver your ski gear to Hakuba for about $25.
Narita Airport - (Limo Bus 70-90 min) - Shinjuku - (Highway Bus 4 hours) - Hakuba
Fare: Limo Bus - 3,000yen / Highway Bus - 4,900yen / Total: 7,900yen
Advantages: Luggage is stored on bus (only need to carry it a short distance at Shinjuku)
Disadvantages: Difficult to book from overseas. Shinjuku bus terminal is quite complicated compared to stations.
Narita Airport - (Shared Taxi 5 hours) - Hakuba Accommodation
Operated by Chuo Taxi
Fare: 12,000yen (adults) 8,400yen (child)
Advantages: Driver meets you in arrival lobby, Drop off at accommodation, Waits for delayed flights, Meets all flights
Disadvantages: May have a short wait for other passengers, 10 seater van + luggage can get crowded
Narita Airport - (Bus 5 hours) - Hakuba Accommodation
Operated by Hakubus
Fare: 9,900yen (adults) 7,500yen (child)
Advantages: Door to Door service, Luggage is stored below bus
Disadvantages: Only operates Mid Dec - End Feb, Only one service per day (connects with evening flights only)
Narita Airport - (Bus 5 hours) - Hakuba Alpico Direct Airport Bus
Operated by Alpico
Fare: 8,500yen (adults) 4,250yen (child)
Advantages: Service to Happo Info center, Luggage is stored below bus, two stops, seats 3 across, power, paid wifi (equivalent of aircraft business seat). Arives in plenty of time for overnight flights home.
Disadvantages: Departs at 8:30am.
JR 4 day flexipass
If using the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Tokyo-Nagano-Tokyo, along with the Narita Express, Narita Airport-Tokyo-Narita Airport, it could be worthwhile getting a JR 4 day flexipass. For 20,000 yen, you get any four days travel in the JR East area, within two weeks of activation. The JR East 4 area includes just about everything north and east of Tokyo, including Nagano Prefecture. Available in Japan from JR travel offices, including the one at Narita Airport. Check the website for special deals also. JR East Website
Hakuba has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Check each resort page for a list of all accommodation in that area.
Note: If booking directly with any of the accommodation you find on these pages please tell them you found the information through wikiski.com. Don't forget to recommend any good accommodation you find!
Note to owners Please only post your link on the page of the resort nearest you, and not on this page.
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- Yamano Hotel Hakuba Happo
- Hakuba House Happo/Wadano
- Whitehorse Hotels Echoland
- Penke Panke Lodge Happo/Wadano
- Skala Grove Inn Echoland
- Blue Dragon Inn Echoland
- Bears Den Goryu
- Hakuba Luna Hotel Happo/Wadano
- Mt Hakuba Backpackers Happo
- Noichigo Happo/Wadano
- Phoenix Wing Chalets Goryu
- Mon Coeur Yamato Echoland
Lift tickets are generally bought on the day for the resort you are riding at. There are deals from time to time where you get a lift pass plus voucher for lunch. You can get multi day tickets the the difference in price is not great enough to lock yourself into one location.
Tickets are a variety of IC cards. Make sure you take them back at the end of the day for a refund of the deposit. Put your IC card low on your body - if you are tall and have a pocket on your thigh - put it there. The sensors at the gates are made for those of short stature.
Each resort in Hakuba has it's own Ski School. Lessons are generally in Japanese, but a couple of schools are starting to offer multilingual instruction.
Both Evergreen and Hakuba Snow Sports offer private tuition at other resorts in Hakuba.
There are two guiding operations in Hakuba that specialise in serving English speaking visitors:
Also pay close attention to the Hakuba Avalanche Bulletin
Shuttle Buses During snow season each resort provides it's own free shuttle service around the valley. With most running hourly services. The resorts do not coordinate routes, so you must get on the bus of the resort you plan to visit. The shuttle bus schedules are released on each resorts homepages in early December, and operate from approx. Dec 20 until Apr 1.
Taxi There are several taxi companies in Hakuba. Short trips are by meter, but you can get a flat rate for a longer trip. Most finish services about 1AM unless ordered in advance. Operators only speak Japanese.
Genki Go Night Shuttle Runs throughout winter and in peak season over summer. There are several color coded routes, and there is a flat fee for 300yen per ride.
Party Bus A free late night shuttle runs between Wadano, Echoland and Goryu for those looking for a big night out. (Details to come)
Each resort offers free car parking facilities, but these can get overwhelmed during New Years and Long Weekends.
Note. There is no free car parking around the Happo One Gondola.
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As Hakuba is a large valley area, there is no one central wining and dining area. Most resorts have restaurants near the base areas, and there are also a number of restaurants in Echoland and around the Hakuba Station area.
There are many types of cuisine on offer, with local soba noodle restaurants being especially prominent. Each area has a number of Izakaya style Japanese restaurants, and there are a number of Yaki Niku BBQ establishments.
Almost all restaurants serve alcohol and BYO is not a concept familiar to most Japanese.
Bars & Entertainment
The Hakuba Valley contains a number of separate ski resorts.
Happo One is the biggest ski area in the valley and one of Japan's most famous. Happo dominates the view in the valley sitting on a broad ridge with the upper section above tree line. It is understandable that many new visitors pronounce Happo One incorrectly. The word One mean ridge and is pronounced ohh-ne. It is not the English word for the number 1.
Hakuba47 / Hakuba Goryu
The best way to gain altitude is to go to the Goryu base station, called Escal Plaza and take the gondola. The Hakuba47 gondola does not go very high and often puts you into a bit of a crowded bottle neck. Sometimes when there has been a lot of snow or it's windy, you can get stuck in the top of the gondola area.
Tsugaike Kogen is located north of Iwatake.
Tsugaike has a large learners area at the base. The gondola provides access to steeper terrain. There is a tram at the top which gives access to more vertical, but this does not open till spring.
Cortina Kokusai is strictly not actually in the township of Hakuba, rather it is part of neighboring Otari.
Sun Alpina is a collection of three resorts, all linked.
- Sanosaka (The northern most resort, which is actually classified as being in the Hakuba valley.)
- Aokiko (south of Sanosaka)
- Kashimayari (south of Aokiko)
However, in the 2009/2010 season Aokiko did not operate, due to financial problems. This meant that the linked tickets were not available, and that Sanosaka & Kashimayari were no longer linked.
Hakuba Iwatake is located just to the north of Happo One.
Hakuba Norikura is located just south of Cortina Kokusai, and the lift systems are linked. (extra money paid to ride both lift systems)
The lower runs at Tsugaike and Goryu are popular with beginners, along with the Sakka area in Happo (adjacent to the Wadano accommodation district)
The Hakuba Valley has an offical policy called Hakuba Local Rules. It can be found here. The policy if frequently criticised as being not accurately representative of where off-piste skiing is actually permitted.
Cortina has the most relaxed policy towards off-piste skiing. Goryu and Hakuba 47 have very restrictive policies. Happo is mostly ok, though their official policy is quite restrictive, it is only enforced in some higher risk areas. Tsugaike is also very strict. Of course each resort area has some off-piste zones that are out of the way and typically can be enjoyed without bringing too much attention to yourself nor placing others at risk.
Out of Bounds
Tsugaike, Goryu, Happo One and Cortina all have official "back country gates". Goryu's is not so obvious at all, by design. Happo's is very obvious and is designated as a mountaineers gate. At Tsugaike you will not find the gate unless you are looking for it. Cortina does not so much as have a gate, rather a long stretch is signposted as leaving resort boundaries.
The terrain very close to some of the backcountry gates in Hakuba can be very serious with considerable avalanche danger being quite common. It is recommended that you hire a guide if you are not experienced backcountry travelers with the correct safety equipment and knowledge on how to use it in an emergency. Avalanches happen every season with serious injuries, and sometimes worse.
Also pay close attention to the Hakuba Avalanche Bulletin
There is a track at Iwatake and also a very good facility at the southern end of the valley called Snow Harp, which was the venue for the 1998 Nagano Olympic nordic events. They offer full rentals.
Parks & Pipes
== Resources == (Links only no descriptions)