When it comes to selecting a unique winter destinations, the Hakuba valley is definitely a great alternative to the usual spots. The valley is the Asia’s response to the Swiss Alps, and gained prominence back in 1998 when it became one of the major venues for Nagano Winter Olympics. The valley was dragged to the limelight, and it definitely lived up to the expectations.
Situated within the Nagano Perfecture of Japan, Hakuba’s alpine scenery is breathtaking. In the midst of the mammoth mountains is the charming little town known as Hakuba. The resort valley is the country’s main hub for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. The main advantage of taking your vacation in this part of the world is variety. Hakuba has seven major resorts; and each resort has their own runs and terrain that suit different levels of skiing and snowboarding skills and ability.
The three ski areas of Goryu-Toomi, Happoone and Hakuba 47 stretch from the middle to the southern end of the valley. If you go to the northern portion of the valley, you can find the resorts of Tsugaike, Norikura, Cortina and Iwatake. These resorts have their own impressive features and amenities, which attract skiing and snowboard enthusiasts from all over.
Out of the many resorts around the valley, Happoone remains the largest and most famous. It is in Happoone that the events in the Nagano Winter Olympics were held such as the downhill, super g and combination ski competition. Another reason why people flock to Happoone is its accessibility, as it the nearest resort to the Hakuba station and the village center.
One of the highlights of your visit to Hakuba is the Olympic Ski Jumping Station. Here, you can take a chair lift and an elevator to the jump platforms used for the games. The two platforms have the height of 90 and 120 meters respectively, and still host world competitions. From the top of these platforms, you can get amazing views of the snow covered valley. After marveling at the ski jumping platforms up close; head over to the nearby Olympic Village Memorial Hall. This small yet delightful museum offers exhibits focusing on the events of the prior Olympic events.
Four ski resorts namely Hakuba 47, Hakuba Goryu, Happo and Tsugaike Kogen, provide gondolas and lift services. These give you the chance to go way up the mountains to trek, hike or to just enjoy the scenery and the weather. Winter sports activities are not the only things that you can do in the Hakuba. The valley is also known for its hot spring source wells. Just within the vicinity of the village, you can choose one from many hot spring facilities to relax and refresh your body while overlooking the alpine scenery. Some of the finest and accessible hot spring baths or onsen are Ritsuo Uchikawa, Tenjin No-Yu, and Juro No-Yu.
Hakuba is very much accessible from other major Japanese cities like Tokyo and Nagoya through a regional train network. Most travelers make Nagano City their access point to the Hakuba as there are daily express bus services that connect the city to the ski resorts. Outside the winter season, the valley makes an amazing location year round due to wonderful natural landscape, which allows guests to experience numerous outdoor activities.