Expedia’s Director of Customer Experience Justin is a powder hound. He shares his tips to taking on the slopes in Japan.
Skiing in Japan is gaining popularity with Expedia’s Aussie travellers, who have figured out the snow is simply superb. Hakuba gets about 11 metres of powder per season, and I mean powder. When I was last there we had almost a foot of fresh snow every couple of days and sometimes more. It’s one of the more authentic Japanese ski resorts, so there’s plenty of great restaurants and a few bars but no crazy night life.
Hakuba is located on the main island of Japan, about 270km northwest of Tokyo. The ski resort is popular with locals and tourists, who hop on regular Bullet trains connecting Tokyo to Nagano. The trains reach speeds of 300km/hr and will put bus transfers to shame. They’re fun to experience if you’ve never been on one before. From Nagano there’s a bus through to Hakuba. If you’re arriving at Narita Airport, the whole journey will take around 4 hours.
Hakuba itself is a valley containing several ski resorts, all offering something different. Hakuba Happo-one (over 1000 m of steep vertical), Hakuba47 and Goryu Toomi are interconnected and can be accessed on the one ticket. Iwatake is a smaller resort but has amazing tree skiing, while Tsugaike Kogen, Norikura and Cortina are favourites with the powder hounds
Don’t be put off by some of the smaller resorts like Iwatake, where there’s just one chair to the top. When there’s a dump, this is where you can score some of the best powder while everyone goes off to the bigger resorts. There’s endless valleys and ridges, quite often untouched, which funnel off the top of the mountain, generally with a few cat tracks at the bottom.