Located in the Northern Alps of Nagano Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most popular ski resort towns, Hakuba. With an annual snow fall of over 36 feet, the town was selected as the main event venue for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Some of the Olympic facilities still remain in use today, including the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium and the Hakuba Olympic Village Memorial Hall, a small museum located within walking distance from the ski jump. Hakuba boasts more than ten ski resorts with a wide variety of terrains catering to everyone from beginners to experts and its bars and restaurants are some of the best you will find in the prefecture.
During the spring, summer and autumn months known as the green season, visitors flock to Hakuba for its cool temperatures and popular water sports including boating, sport fishing, wakeboarding and windsurfing. There are three freshwater lakes (Aoki-ko, Nakatsuna-ko, and Kizaki-ko), which attract fishermen from all over Japan. Most of the ski resorts operate their lifts during the summer months allowing visitors easy access to higher elevations. There is a trail popular with mountain bikers, which extends above the Hakuba Happo-one resort to a small pond offering spectacular views of the local alpine peaks. Just a few hours further up the trail lies the peak of Karamatsu Yama on the main ridge of the Northern Alps, a popular spot for hikers.
The top ski run located at the Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort transforms into an alpine garden during the summer and attracts many visitors. There is a trail from this area that takes you to a viewpoint just 50 minutes away. A little further, you will find the peak of Goryu Yama. From the Tsugaike Kogen Ski Resort, you can take a ropeway to a wetland area, which has been designated as a National Treasure. From there, you can follow another trail leading up to Shirouma Yama.
Hakuba is also home to several onsens (Japanese hot spring baths), which can help take the chill away after a long day on the slopes. Onsens are a popular destination for many native Japanese and something to at least experience once if you are a visitor to this magnificent country! The following is a brief list of onsens in the area:
Echoland No Yu (http://www.echolandnoyu.com/)
Tokyu Onsen (Tokyu Hotel) (http://www.hakuba-r.tokyuhotels.co.jp/english/)
Shobei No Yu (Mominoki Hotel) (http://www.mominokihotel.com/index-e.html)
Kurashita No Yu (http://www.kurashitanoyu.com/)
Daiichi Sato No Yu (http://www.shinshuu-hakuba.com/onsen/daiichisatonoyu/)
Daini Sato No Yu (http://www.shinshuu-hakuba.com/onsen/dainisatonoyu/)
Mimizuku No Yu (http://www.shinshuu-hakuba.com/onsen/mimizukunoyu/)
Juro No Yu (http://mall.hakubamura.net/juro/)
Hakuba is centrally located to Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo and easily accessible via the Hokuriku Shinkansen. During the winter months, a highway express bus operates six round trips per day between Shinjuku and Hakuba. The one way trip takes about four and a half hours and costs ¥4,850 yen.
For more information, consult the Hakuba Tourism webpage: http://www.hakubatourism.jp/abouthakuba/