You’ve probably heard a lot about skiing in Hokkaido. The powder snow, the immense amount of snowfall and the beautiful mountain view… Believe it or not, Hokkaido is not the only place that has the offer. A little village called Hakuba (白馬) has it all. In fact, I think skiing in Hakuba is even better, especially for beginners. The slopes are gentler, the snow is softer and the crowd is lesser! Read on to explore the beauty of Hakuba Skiing Japan.
Hakuba Skiing Japan – Where is Hakuba?
Situated in the breathtakingly beautiful Northern Japan Alps of Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba stands out as one of Japan’s top winter resort areas. Abundant snow falls and excellent powder conditions make Hakuba a perennial top choice of skiers and snowboarders from around the world.
During the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Hakuba gained worldwide recognition as it hosted several olympic competitions, including alpine (downhill, super g, and combination) and nordic (ski jump and cross country) events.
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Hakuba Skiing Japan – How to get there?
Hakuba can be reached relatively easily not only from Tokyo and Nagoya. We personally took a 5 hr coach (270 km) from Tokyo. I highly recommend you to stay overnight in Hakuba, as day trip makes every so rush and not so enjoyable. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there are hot springs (onsen) available around town. You can view the detailed directions from here.
Hakuba Skiing Japan – Abundant of Ski Resorts
There are in total 11 ski resorts in Hakuba. With over 200 different trails, I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that suits your needs. You can find out all the different trails from the official website.
In general, each resort offers trails that are very well suited to beginners and intermediates with many long perfectly groomed runs and fantastic fall-line. Advanced skiers and snowboarders will also love the steep groomers that some resorts offer.
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Hakuba Skiing Japan – Ski Pass
Ten of the major resorts have teamed up to offer the “Hakuba Valley Ticket” to be used at any of the participating resorts. A one-day ticket costs 5700 yen, while two 1-day tickets (valid over a three day period) cost 10,000 yen and three 1-day tickets (to be used over a five day period) cost 14,900 yen.
Hakuba Skiing Japan – It’s Better than Hokkaido
Hakuba is blessed with plenty of snow; an average of 11 metres of powder per season. When I went there, I was completely surprised by the quality of snow. It was so soft and powdery. And when I fell from my ski, I didn’t feel any pain at all. It was that soft!
Although many people say that Hokkaido is a better skiing destination, I actually don’t agree. The last time when I went to Hokkaido Niseko to ski, the snow fall was rather little. And when I hit the ground, it was so hard, as compared to a blanket of snow back in Hakuba.
What’s more, the slopes in Hokkaido are so steep. I almost feared to death as a beginner! For a long moment, I really thought I was going to be stranded in the middle of snow mountain as I didn’t dare to go down! On the other hand, the slopes in Hakuba are so long and gentle. It’s perfect for practice if you are a beginner like me.
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Hakuba Skiing Japan – Where to Stay?
Hakuba covers a full spectrum of lodging from backpacker hostels to luxury accommodation. There are lots of hotels in Hakuba. If you want to experience traditional Japanese Tatami, where you sleep on the Japanese style floor, there are many such options too. Happo and Wadano are the two most popular villages to stay in.
One hotel I recommend is Hotel La Neige Higashi-kan. Featuring a hot tub, massage treatments and tennis courts, Hotel La Neige Higashi-kan offers rooms with a balcony and nature views. The hotel also provides a free shuttle service to/from JR Hakuba Station, Happo Bus Terminal and the Happo-One Gondola. It is a 5-minute drive from the Hakuba Jump Arena.
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Another great hotel to stay is Hakuba Mominoki Hotel. Located between snow peaks in Hakuba Valley, the hotel is only a 5-minute drive from Hakuba Station. The 4-star hotel offers an outdoor natural hot-spring bath, free Wi-Fi and 3 restaurants. What’s more, it is a 3-minute walk from Hakuba Happo-One Ski Resort’s gondola lift station.
No matter where you choose to stay, I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Hakuba! Happy skiing. 😀