Second stop of my Japan ski holiday was Hakuba. It’s main ski field Happo-One hosted alpine skiing events at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games. There are five ski fields in Hakuba but unlike Niseko, they are not connected so you have to take a shuttle bus to go between ski fields.
Tsuga’ike-kogen (栂池高原) ski field is best for beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Like Niseko, Hakuba gets a lot of snow and there is no shortage of powder. Unfortunately the wind was very strong during our stay and the upper gondola and chairlifts were closed.
One thing I really liked about skiing in Japan is that there is hardly any lineup for chairlifts and gondola at the base so you can maximise your time on the slopes.
The snow never stopped and at one point there was so much snow falling, I got stuck in about 25cm (10 inches) of powder snow at the top of a chairlift.
The sun struggled to appear behind thick clouds. There was so much powder they didn’t need snow making machines!
Unlike our first leg in Niseko, we didn’t rent a car and took a bus from Nagano station to Hakuba station where we waited for our hotel shuttle bus.
Our hotel, Sierra Resort Hakuba, had everything we needed – there’s a ski rental shop next the hotel and private lockers to store your ski equipment. The staff were super friendly and helpful.
There is a public onsen and four private onsens that you can book for 45mins at a time.
Everywhere we turned, there were complimentary food and drinks. At the hotel’s entrance where we waited for our shuttle bus, we could help ourselves to hot miso soup, green curry chicken and oden (Japanese one-pot winter dish).