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Hakuba is one of the best ski resorts in Japan. Hakuba features 14 ski areas joining together to form six large ski resorts. Hakuba is ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Hakuba is a fantastic ski resort with world class facilities and snow. The ski season in Hakuba runs from December to April.
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Note: Hakuba hotels are listed within the Nagano section.
The fastest route from Tokyo is by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station to Nagano: 105min./8,170yen. Then by bus from Nagano to Hakuba 65min./1,500yen. Trains run every half hour or so, buses every hour. Note that the last bus from Nagano Station to Hakuba is 8:30pm. This whole trip takes just over 2.5 hours, 9,700yen one way.
These trips are useful for Japan Rail Pass holders. If you purchase of a JR East 4 Day Flexi pass it will allow you 4 non consecutive days travel in a month time frame, giving the luxury of side tours or Tokyo stopovers without increasing your transfer costs to Hakuba. You must purchase your Japan Rail Pass before leaving for Japan. See the Japan Rail Pass section for full details.
An alternative method is Taxi limousine from Narita Airport to your hotel door in Hakuba is a 6 hour trip. Perfect solution if you are arriving at Narita Airport on a late flight and want to make the first runs the next morning. The cost is ¥12,000 per person one way if your accommodation is booked through us otherwise ¥13,000. The driver will meet you at the airport. This service must be booked in advance.
Hakuba Onsen (Hot Spring Baths)
The onsen of Japan are
famous and an ideal activity to combine with your ski trip to Hakuba. There
are several onsen in Hakuba including:
Juro No-Yu, +81 261-71-8160 Ten minutes walk from Kamishiro station. This onsen is open 24 hours a day from December to March, 10AM-10PM the rest of the year. Closed on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Enjoy the piping hot mineral waters in the inside and outside baths while looking out over the snow capped mountains. When your skin starts shrivelling up, dry off and head to the lounge to kick back on the tatami and watch TV or dig into a steaming bowl of tempura soba. Sauna, lockers provided. ¥500/¥400 for adults/children for 2 hours bathing. Meals around ¥1000.
Tenjin No-Yu, +81 261-72-3450. 15 minutes walk from Hakuba station. Open 9AM-10PM. Closed Tu. Recommended by locals for its healing waters, Tenjin No-Yu offers great views of the mountains from both indoor and outdoor baths. Lockers available.
Hakuba Off (Green) Season
Near Hakuba, during the green season (i.e. spring, summer
& autumn), there are three freshwater lakes that are so clean that you can
swim in them. In order from south to north, they are called Aoki-ko,
Nakazuna-ko, and Kizaki-ko. The use of engines and outboard motors is banned
on Aoki-ko, making it the quietest and nicest of the three. Popular
activities include boating, sport fishing, and windsurfing. Nakazuna-ko is
very small and only really attracts fishermen. Kizaki-ko is the most
developed, and since engines are allowed, sports like wakeboarding are
During the summer, most of the ski resorts operate some of their lifts to allow access to higher elevations. At Hakuba 47 and Aokiko (in nearby Omachi), the lifts allow access for mountain biking. Hiking or simply enjoying the views are popular at Happo, Goryu and Tsugaike. Above Happo, an easy trail extends for 40 minutes to a small pond in which the local alpine peaks are reflected. A couple of hours further up the trail lies the peak of Mt. Karamatsu on the main ridge of the North Alps. The top ski run at Goryu becomes an alpine garden in summer and another trail leads further upward to a viewpoint (around 50 minutes) or the peak of Mt. Goryu itself (around four hours). Above Tsugaike, a further ropeway takes you to a wetland that is designated as a national park. A trail from here takes you up to Mt. Shirouma, after which Hakuba is named. Shirouma and Hakuba are different readings of the kanji for "white horse". The smaller ski field of Iwatake uses its pistes to grow thousands of lilies in summer and also has a dry ski slope if you're desperate for turns.
Like all mountain areas in Japan, temperatures in Hakuba stay much cooler than in the cities on Japan's Pacific coast. That alone makes it worthy of a visit.
(Parts of article based on Wikitravel article by Joshua Kalish, Todd VerBeek, Moni, Peter Vine, Jani Patokallio, nick, Colin Jensen and Jose Ramos, Wikitravel user(s) Thewayoftheduck and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Article used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0.)