Hakuba: The closest ski heaven to Tokyo

By Dinasha Cellura

To me, Nagano is synonymous with the 1998 Winter Olympics. It was where the world’s greatest skiers and snowboarders gathered to compete, for the first time in the Olympic history. There is a magical aura of the Olympic Games that is omnipresent all through Hakuba, Nagano. This picturesque ski village boasts beautifully manicured streets, as well as fabulous restaurants, shops and points of interest. The Hakuba Happo-one ski resort is famed for steep slopes and moguls, panoramic snowcapped skylines, spa and onsen, and its friendly community – all of which we got to experience during our recent visit.

Hakuba is accessible by train from Shinjuku station. On our last visit there, we chose instead to rent an SUV and reached Hakuba in less than three hours. The drive was quite scenic, and before we knew it we were out of the metropolis and into a winter wonderland.

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© Savvy Tokyo

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Hakuba is a great place! Unfortunately not much snow this year or last. Two seasons ago was EPIC!

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I hate snow and cold. Can't wait until spring and summer arrive.

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With the shinkansen stopping at Iiyama now, I would think that Nosawa onsen is much better suited now because it has the powder snow as well as the atmosphere,

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Personally I prefer Shiga Kogen, better range of runs for intermediate skiiers. Hakuba is great if you're advanced though. Nozawa is better than these 2 though.

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A late start, but on now. Nozawa is a lovely village, but nowhere near the variety or size of the hakuba area.

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Togari onsen is eic as well - the less known little brother of Nozawa and located nearby !

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I love Hakuba, but how is it the "closest to Tokyo"? The author claim 3 hours by car from Shinjuku, but Google says 3 hours 40 mins without traffic, that means more than 4 hours with traffic and on snow conditions

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