For a small village in the Japanese Alps, Hakuba has a big reputation. The internationally renowned Hakuba Valley gets a hefty 11 metres of snowfall every year, and its 10 ski resorts have a combined total of more than 200 runs. Add to that its Olympic credentials – playing host to the Nagano winter games in 1998 – and it’s not hard to see why winter sports fans come from around the world to ski and snowboard here.
With a baffling array of resorts to choose from, we’ve picked four of the best. Check them out below, along with some of Booking.com travellers’ favourite Hakuba hotels.
Happo One is Hakuba’s largest ski resort, with 26 lifts and a whopping 1,000 metres of piste. The varied terrain here will satisfy any skier or snowboarder – spanning everything from gentle inclines and wide open slopes to a selection of steeper, more heart-stopping stuff.
When you’re not racing down the famous slopes, you can check out some Winter Olympic history at the Ski Jump Arena. You won’t be far away at Hotel Hakuba Tokyu, which also offers a free shuttle to the other main ski resorts.
Hakuba 47 + Goryu
The combined forces of the Hakuba 47 and Goryu resorts offer up an irresistible collection of varied ability slopes. The range’s north-westerly orientation pretty much guarantees swathes of beautiful, dry powder all season long.
Both the Iimori and Goryu-Toomi areas are awash with smooth, sweeping runs made for beginners, while Hakuba 47’s steep runs, terrain park and unique superpipe will challenge more advanced riders. Looking for lessons? Hosts at traditional Japanese B&B Koyuki will happily arrange them for you.
Iwatake Snow Field
Iwatake is a great confidence builder for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The snow field offers 15 runs – most of them short – with green routes ranging from the gentle to the challenging, and a selection of reds for those ready to progress. There are even a couple of advanced courses (though these may prove a little tame for the seasoned pros).
Hakuba Landmark Iwatake Lodge is situated practically at the foot of the gondola, so you’ll be right in the heart of the action.
Cortina is Hakuba’s hidden gem. This relatively small resort boasts the highest snowfall of the entire valley, making it a veritable powder paradise. A selection of 17 routes are set around the small, compact bowl, complemented by the challenging off-piste zone Cortina is renowned for.
There’s quite a buzz around this little resort, but it’s still far quieter than the others in the area. For the ultimate place to stay, Cortina Apartments offer ski-in-ski-out access, mere metres from the lifts.