Recognized as the powder Mecca of the world, Japan is the snowiest place on earth, with Aomori City (Hakkoda Mountain) reaching 26 feet of snow every year. It comes as no surprise that thousands of ardent snowboarders make the pilgrimage to the mystical Hakuba – it’s located around 300km west of Tokyo, and it’s home to at least nine top-notch resorts, including 135 lifts accessing over 200 runs.

Situated in the midst of the Northern Japan Alps, Hakuba displays a regal range of mountains that bisect Honshu’s main island. The highest peak is Mount Hotaka, which lies at 3,190 meters above sea level with soaring and sharp peaks similar to the Dolomites in Italy. Keep reading our small guide on how to enjoy Hakuba as a western snow lover.

 Hakuba Weather & Snow Report

The “Hakubian” weather is a mix of various weather situations. For powder enthusiasts, the best time to go would be from January to the end of February. During this period, you have more chances to catch snowfalls every day. Other than these days, it’s sort of a mix of snowy-sunny weather.

When Hakuba snows, the quality of the snow exceeds any expectation – it’s very good, fluffy, powdery, although not as light and dry as the Hokkaido champagne powder, yet it’s still much better than plenty of places around Europe or the US, for sure, much better than plenty of other resorts in Asia too. Hakuba’s average snowfall is normally from 5 cm to 15 cm per day on a normally snowing day in January.

Hakuba Ski Resort Guide

Hakuba Ski Resort is indeed a valley with plenty of ski resorts to choose from: Happo One, Tsugaike Kogen, Iwatake, Cortina, Goryu, and Norikura. Happo One is perhaps the most popular choice if skiing in Japan. If you’re a first-time visitor, it’s probably the best for you to stay at Happo One are, as you can find several restaurants, shops, bars, and supermarkets there.

The Happo One bus station is indeed the final destination of nearly all outbound buses all shuttle buses to Tokyo, Nagano, and Tokyo Airport – making accommodations within walking distance to the Happo One bus terminal the most convenient option.


Always ask how far it from the hotel to the bus stop is, grab a copy of the bus timetable and check the bus stop. Hakuba is quite big, and you don’t want to miss your bus, so you need to take a taxi back to the resort.

Always check for Airbnb if you have a large group – traditionally, the Japanese prefer to have only one big bathroom in the house even if they have more than four rooms.

Trip Planning Advice

For groups of friends or a family, I would say driving there is probably the best option. One of the reasons is, this provides you with maximum flexibility. There is no need to run for the bus, check the timetable every time, less trouble, and not happy with the snow quality in Cortina today? It’s ok, just go to Goryu after lunch then.

As for public transportation options, the fastest route would be getting a direct shuttle, the Nagano Snow Shuttle from either Hakuba or Narita to Hakuba directly – the whole journey takes around 5 and 6 hours with two breaks between as well.