TOP RECOMMENDATIONS Hakuba Valley
One of Japan’s most expansive mountain hot spring resorts
Hakuba Valley is an international mountain resort made up of 10 ski resorts scattered at the base of the Ushiro Tateyama Mountain Range in northern Nagano Prefecture. Running from south to north, the ten snow resorts are Jiigatake, Kashimayari, Hakuba Sanosaka, Hakuba Goryu, Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park, Hakuba Happo-one, Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field, Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura Onsen, and Hakuba Cortina. Each of the resorts has distinctive ski areas offering all snow travelers an exciting winter experience. Among these 10 resorts, the center-piece is Hakuba Happo-one — the largest resort with 13 courses, a 1,071-meter altitude differential, and a long course stretching to 8,000 meters. On a clear day, the views of the alpine scenery from the top of the mountain are spectacular.
All the ski resorts that make up Hakuba Valley offer something special for snow travelers. The snow that falls on the north-facing slopes of Hakuba47 is some of Hakuba’s best, and the views of the Ushiro Tateyama Mountain Range and the Northern Alps from Hakuba Iwatake’s summit area are exquisite. The base of the Tsugaike Kogen resort has wide and gentle slopes ideal for beginners, and the virgin powder snow at Hakuba Cortina is a big draw. In addition to resort skiing opportunities, the area’s backcountry is a popular area for snow adventure.
How to get there
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano. Upon arrival, transfer to an express bus bound for Hakuba and get off at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. At its quickest, the journey takes 2 hours 40 minutes. The Shinano express train from Nagoya Station to Hakuba Station takes 3 hours 34 minutes at its quickest. There are buses to Hakuba Happo-one from the station.
There are highway buses to the region from Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya. Alternatively, catch a bus direct to the area from Tokyo, Osaka, Haneda Airport and Narita Airport.
Hakuba Happo — an onsen resort with six hot spring sources
The Happo area at the base of the Hakuba Happo-one resort is one of Hakuba’s best hot spring spots. Take a dip in the therapeutic waters at one of the 75 places to stay, five onsen bathing facilities for non-staying guests, and the three foot baths. The water property of the Hakuba Happo area is rare worldwide — it is highly alkaline with a pH of more than 11. Along with natural cleansers that exfoliate your skin, making it glow, the hydrogen in the water has an antioxidant effect with antiaging properties. Hakuba has plenty of lodging options to suit your schedule and budget, from guesthouses to long-term condominiums. For a fixed period during the year, there is a night shuttle bus that runs between the resorts and the Happo area, allowing you to enjoy the après-ski.
Access eight resorts with one pass
By purchasing the Hakuba Valley Ticket (an all-mountain area pass), you can get easy access to eight ski resorts. For the period of its validity, you can use your pass at the automated ticket gates at each resort and board the lifts to the mountains. The eight resorts where the pass is valid are Hakuba Sanosaka, Hakuba Goryu, Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park, Hakuba Happo-one, Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field, Tsugaike Kogen, Hakuba Norikura Onsen, and Hakuba Cortina. Pass holders can also ride the Hakuba Valley shuttle bus for free. The bus runs three routes: Jiigatake Snow Resort to Happo-one Nakiyama Slope, Goryu Escal Plaza to Tsugaike Kogen Snow Resort, and Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal to Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort.
Something extra for Epic Pass holders — a free five-consecutive day Hakuba Valley ticket
Hakuba Valley is a participant in Vail Resort’s Epic Pass Program. If you hold an Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, or Epic Australia Pass, you can get one complimentary five-consecutive-day ticket for use during the winter season at Hakuba Valley’s 10 ski resorts (limited to one per person). If you hold a Hakuba Valley All-Mountain Season Pass or a designated Hakuba Valley resort season pass, you can purchase a lift ticket for all the Vail Resorts in North America and Australia at half price.
Gaze upon the beauty of the Northern Alps from Hakuba Himekawa Onsen
Arguably, the best views of the mountainous Hakuba area are from Hakuba Himekawa Onsen Tenjin no Yu — indoor and outdoor hot spring baths in the Hakuba Highland Hotel. The hotel welcomes non-staying guests, and its high elevation gives you spectacular, unhindered views of the Northern Alps. Relax in the therapeutic waters and gaze out onto the Hakuba Sanzan — the collective name for Mt Shakushi, Mt Yari and Mt Shirouma.