Salivating hordes of skiers and snowboarders descend on Japan each winter, eager to knife their carbon fiber blades through the country’s famously deep powder snow. You don’t so much ski across Japanese powder as plough through it, wiping it off your googles with trembling mitts after each ecstatic turn.
With hundreds of resorts of all shapes and sizes to choose from, the only question is where to go.
Hakuba Valley is a popular option as it is made up of ten individual resorts and offers a huge amount of terrain for skiers of all abilities. Located in Nagano Prefecture it’s easy to reach from Tokyo and has a good mix of local culture and western convenience, including a western ski school.
Serious skiers and boarders are drawn to Hakuba for the size of its mountains, which are among the biggest and most dramatic in all of Japan. They are part of the Japanese Alps, a spine of ranges which bisect central Honshu and are named are after their European equivalent. Their mighty peaks soar to 3000 meters and beckon serious skiers and snowboarders into their majestic topography.
Backcountry skiing is tricky and dangerous in Japan. Hakuba is one of the few resorts where you can safely explore the backcountry with dedicated guides. Evergreen Backcountry Guides will take you way out of bounds for the ride of your life and rent you all the equipment you need to get there safely (avalanche transceivers, shovels and probe poles are all compulsory). Pick a bluebird day for the experience of a lifetime.
Fly to Tokyo and catch shinkansen to Nagano and then local bus to Hakuba.
Hakuba day pass from US$40. Backcountry tours with Evergreen from US$127.
Whether you’re a seasoned skier or hitting the slopes for the first time, the Hakuba Valley is comprised of ten individual resorts and is suitable for skiers of all abilities.
Located in Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba Valley is easy to reach from Tokyo and has a perfect mix of local culture and western convenience, including a western ski school.