Winter escape: Hakuba

By on December 27, 2010

If you still have a few days of vacation left till the kids go back to school, pack the family up and head for Hakuba  in the Northern Japanese Alps where winter fun abounds. It has around ten well-known ski resorts including 200 runs, world-class winter facilities  and an annual average of 11 meters of snowfall.


Nagano Prefecture, home to the 1998 Olympics, is just an hour-and-a-half train ride from Tokyo via the Asama bullet train, or another option is a three-and-a- half hour regular train ride from Shinjuku via the Chuo Limited express (Super  Azusa).   If you will be carrying all your ski gears, it might be more convenient  to travel by car.  The easiest route to take if driving up to the area is via  the Chuo expressway heading towards Nagano from the Okaya junction.  Take the Toyoshina Interchange exit and go straight up Route 147 and 148 to reach Omachi until Hakuba.  The car trip usually takes about four hours nonstop.  


The Hakuba region has seven ski areas: Goryu, Hakuba, Happone, Highland Snowpark, Iwatake, Minekata, and Sanosaka.  The gondolas are now in full operation and maybe enjoyed all winter.  Don’t forget to Google up the weather before you go!  


Guided Tours

Evergreen Outdoor Center offers guided tours to Hakuba ( that includes ski lessons to both adults and kids, group or private, beginner to advanced.   You can also enjoy the Olympic cross-country course or on-mountain guides with the family. Evergreen Outdoor Center offers various family-centric services including a daycare for those with kids too young to ski, giving moms and dads time off to enjoy skiing.  The on-mountain daycare services are in English.



Sierra Resort Hotel, a family-centric accommodation located on snowy forestland in Ochikura, Hakuba offers a relaxing escape from the noise of the city.   It has hot springs to relax in and facilities to make everyone feel at home.  For families that want to enjoy western cuisine, Sierra Resort has winning menus to choose from.  It also offers its guests  a limousine drive to the slopes and wonderful sightseeing spots.    Sierra Resort Hotel Hakuba’s website is available in English, French, German, and Japanese.


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