The Hakuba Valley, situated in the heart of the Japanese Alps, is the best and largest ski area on the main Japanese island of Honshu. The valley is actually home to 11 ski resorts but the three main ones are Happo-One, Goryu and Hakuba47. Having such a variety of resorts to enjoy makes it a great destination for those who like to explore whilst still having the lovely wide gentle runs that make it perfect for beginners and intermediates.
This is also the destination if you want to see the incredible snow monkeys who bathe in the hot pools at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. There are day tours available from Hakuba to visit the park and a number of other cultural attractions in the local area.
With so many resorts to choose from the skiing in the area is varied with plenty to suit all levels and persuasions. Happo-One (pronounced Happo On-ay) is generally considered to be the main resort in the area and is really well suited to intermediates with lots of groomed runs. For more advanced skiers this is the place if you are a mogul junky or you can head to Hakuba47 for some good steeps.
If you are looking for off-piste powder skiing then Cortina is your best bet as it is the most relaxed of the resorts or take a backcountry tour to really get the most out of the area. Goryu and Tsugaike are perfect for beginners with big learning areas and big wide mellow slopes. The best English speaking instructors are found in Happo-One however.
Off the Slopes
This is a great area if you are looking for a variety of things to do off the slopes as well. A visit to see the incredibly cute snow monkeys is a must and can be easily pre-booked as a day trip. There are also some great authentic Japanese places to visit including the Nagano Zenkoji Temple and even the village of Hakuba itself, where there is the chance to try things like origami making. Activities in the snow include fondue snowshoe tours, snowmobiling and crosscountry skiing. Then there are the wonderful Japanese onsens – many of the hotels have their own or there are public ones throughout the area, some of which offer fabulous views of the mountains.
The food here is varied and wonderful – head to Kikyo-ya for the most amazing sushi in town! Cuisine ranges from Japanese and French to Chinese and Indian, and as well as Japanese izakaya bars which serve lots of tapas-style snacks there are even a few English-style pubs about.
The majority of our accommodation is located in the Wadano area, near Happo-One. This area offers a good range of accommodation from western style hotels to self-catering apartments at a variety of standards meaning there is something to suit most requirements. Many of the properties include breakfast and have great facilities on site.
Just in case all those resorts weren’t enough for you, you can also add on skiing in Nozawa Onsen and include some time in the cities of Kyoto and Tokyo with our Nagano Safari.