Winter Wonderland


If you’re looking for some fairytale snow adventure, then Hakuba Valley with its eleven ski resorts and awesome snowfall track record is where you’ll want to be. Found in Nagano Prefecture, home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba is filled with classic wooden lofts and majestic fir trees. Take the Shinkansen from Narita Airport through to Nagano, then the local bus up to Hakuba (it’s cheaper and faster this way). Hakuba’s growing popularity will drive the powderhounds out of bed early to reach the recently dumped powder, which is usually out by Kourchina, a northerly resort. Although you will find plenty of signage telling you not to stray from the marked trails, it’s common practice in Hakuba to go off piste. It’s best to take a guide or someone who knows the terrain to avoid getting lost in the snowy slopes.

There are many onsens (hot springs) in Japan, which are the perfect remedy for sore muscles after a long day of snowboarding, and luckily, there are a few to pick from in Hakuba. They’re generally gender segregated, but occasionally you’ll find a tourist-friendly mixed onsen or a private onsen for a more secluded moment. For those looking for somewhere quiet and cozy, find the restaurant on the southwestern corner of Hakuba Train Station Square, 2nd floor. There’s a great selection of freshly prepared bento. This is a place where you can experience a more natural and colder side to Japan, so rug up and get going.

- Zeno

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