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Where You Should Stay in Hakuba (Nagano): Best Areas & Types of Accommodations For Visitors

Where You Should Stay in Hakuba (Nagano): Best Areas & Types of Accommodations For Visitors

Date published: 13 November 2023

When it comes to Japan's winter wonderlands, few can rival the picturesque village of Hakuba. Right in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Hakuba is a ski and snowboard paradise that beckons winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe, and a cooling summer destination for city-dwellers in the green season. Here's what to consider when thinking about where to stay when visiting Hakuba.

(Main image: PIXTA)

Table of Contents
  1. Get to know Hakuba
  2. How to decide where to stay in Hakuba
  3. The 3 best areas to stay in Hakuba
  4. Happo One: Unrivaled accessibility to everywhere, convenient for shopping, dining, and nightlife
  5. Wadano: Luxurious Accommodations in a Picturesque Forested Area
  6. Echoland Area: An Entertainment Hub for More Excitement
  7. Goryu & Hakuba 47: For ski lovers wanting to be near the wider Hakuba Valley
  8. Iwatake: Panoramic Views of the Japanese Alps
  9. Tsugaike: The quieter village in Hakuba Valley
  10. Norikura & Cortina: Northernmost tip of Hakuba Valley for deep snow
  11. Types of accommodations to choose from
  12. Getting to Hakuba
Hakuba in the green season. The Northern Alps' Mt. Shirouma reflects in the Kamaike Marsh. (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba in the green season. The Northern Alps' Mt. Shirouma reflects in the Kamaike Marsh. (Photo: PIXTA)

When it comes to Japan's winter wonderlands, few can rival the picturesque village of Hakuba. Right in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Hakuba is a ski and snowboard paradise that beckons winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.

In the green season, Hakuba is also popular as a cooling summer destination for city-dwellers seeking to escape the heat. And there is no shortage of outdoor activities to do in the lush green summer, including trekking in the Alps, and kayaking in the lakes.

With its close proximity to major cities such as Tokyo and Nagoya adding to its popularity, here’s what to consider when thinking about where to stay when you are visiting Hakuba.

Get to know Hakuba

Hakuba's scenic landscapes are equally stunning in autumn. (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba's scenic landscapes are equally stunning in autumn. (Photo: PIXTA)

The Northern Alps of Japan in Nagano Prefecture is one of Japan’s most popular ski areas, with their powdery winter snow gaining worldwide recognition during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

The Hakuba Olympic Village Memorial Hall is a remnant of that proud past today, with a museum onsite, as well as a Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium that is still in use today for daredevils looking to try out, or also practice, ski jumping. There are 10 ski slopes for ski and snowboarding lovers to try out, all accessible via a single ski pass.

Hakuba collectively is known as Hakuba Valley, because of the nature of its location in the depths of the mountains and in a valley.

Hakuba is separated into 8 areas: Happo One, Wadano, Echoland area (comprising Echoland Village and Misorano Village), Goryu, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Norikura, and Cortina.

Hakuba’s world-class slopes attract visitors from around the globe. (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba’s world-class slopes attract visitors from around the globe. (Photo: PIXTA)

Happo One (pronounced: "hah-poh oh-nay") and Wadano both sit at the base of the largest ski resort in Hakuba, with Echoland a short car ride away. All three are closer to Hakuba Station, accessible via a 15-minute walk, or by bus.

The view in Hakuba is unrivaled due to its location in the Northern Alps and its snow-capped mountain peaks.

With 10 ski resorts and a large variety of restaurants and shops, there is no end to the activities you can opt for in Hakuba, no matter which season you are visiting Hakuba for.

How to decide where to stay in Hakuba

Being spoiled for choice around Hakuba, here are some things to consider when booking accommodation in the area.

1. Proximity to sights and type of experience

Snow lovers gathered at Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort (Photo: PIXTA)
Snow lovers gathered at Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort (Photo: PIXTA)

There are different areas in Hakuba, each offering a different experience. For instance, if you are primarily going to Hakuba for skiing, you might want to stay in close proximity to the ski slopes. Alternatively, if you are looking for a more relaxing experience, you might want to stay in a quieter area. Hakuba is a popular destination year-round, so the type of accommodation you need will vary depending on the time of year you are visiting.

For example, if you are visiting in the winter, you will need to make sure that your accommodation has access to ski slopes. Whereas if this is a summer getaway in cooling Hakuba, you might want to be in close proximity to the mountains to enjoy the fresh air and the breeze. Or if you want to simply relax and enjoy yourself on this trip, seek out options that will allow you to do so with full board options.

2. Accessibility

The Hakuba Happo Information Center and the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. (Photo: PIXTA)
The Hakuba Happo Information Center and the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. (Photo: PIXTA)

There are shuttle buses that connect the Hakuba Valley network, as well as public buses that can easily ferry you to where you need to go if you are not traveling by car. Most accommodations are covered by the buses, or are a short walk away from the bus stop.

Pro tip
  • Consider renting a car if you want to get more done over a wider area. (You can book a rental car here; be sure to reserve one with all-wheel drive or 4WD.)
  • Alternatively to better plan for your activities, and to check out the bus schedule beforehand.

3. Choosing where to stay in Hakuba

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

An important point to consider when looking for somewhere to stay in Hakuba is the types of accommodation available. As an area popular for longer stays to fully enjoy outdoor activities and to relax amongst the mountains, hotels and aparthotels are the most common type of accommodation available in Hakuba. These range from basic but comfortable smaller hotels, to luxury hotels that scream lavish relaxation. There are also villas, as well as entire homes and apartments perfect for larger groups and families. Where you decide to stay in Hakuba will likely also depend on the type of accommodation you will need, as well as the number of people on the trip and how far your budget will stretch.

The 3 best areas to stay in Hakuba

Here are three areas that we recommend you look for when trying to decide where to stay in Hakuba.

Happo One: Unrivaled accessibility to everywhere, convenient for shopping, dining, and nightlife

Happo One (Photo: PIXTA)
Happo One (Photo: PIXTA)

Happo One (pronounced “Happo Oh-nay” instead of the number 1) is the central hub of Hakuba, and is one of the most popular areas in Hakuba with the most shopping, dining, and nightlife options to choose from.

It is also in close walking proximity to the Happo Bus Terminal, making it easy to get around Hakuba to other ski resorts and to entertainment and dining options.

Located at the foot of the largest ski resort in Hakuba and within walking distance from other slopes, as well as ski schools, the mountains offer relaxation and activities such as mountain biking and trekking in warmer months, panoramic ski slopes in the winter overlooking the beautiful Hakuba mountain range, as well as an onsen.

There are a ton of accommodation options in Happo One, ranging from hotels, resorts, apart-hotels, and vacation stays, and as the most accessible area in Hakuba, you will be able to enjoy outdoor activities in the day and entertainment options at night. Great for solo travelers, couples, families to groups of all sizes, and for all seasons. There’s always something to do in Happo One.

5 Best places to stay near Happo One

Each of the following top-rated accommodations is within 1-km (10-minute walk) of the Happo Gondola Station and is rated 8+ on Booking.com.

  • Oomukou Ryokan
    • Address Hokujo 5222, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakuba Station (Oito Line)
      27 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Wadano: Luxurious Accommodations in a Picturesque Forested Area

(Image: PIXTA)
(Image: PIXTA)

To the north of Happo One is Wadano, a beautiful, peaceful forested area. Wadano is very picturesque, and has a slower, more chill vibe as compared to Happo One.

With each accommodation being further apart from one another, it offers the perfect tranquil winter retreat. There are also a ton of dining options ranging from the simple and casual, to fine dining within an easy stroll.

There are also onsens in the area, and some have amazing outdoor onsens with a beautiful view of snow covered trees and the surrounding alps.

With Wadano being in close walking distance to the Happo Bus Terminal, as well as ski slopes in the nearby areas, with even some ski in and ski out options, it’s a great balance of active relaxation.

Wadano primarily has a selection of hotels, apart-hotels, and vacation homes ranging towards the luxury side. Great for groups, families, or couples looking for a quieter area, Wadano is particularly panoramic in the winter months.

5 Best places to stay near Wadano

  • Hakuba Tokyu Hotel
    • Address Hokujo 4688, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakuba Station (Oito Line)
      38 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Echoland Area: An Entertainment Hub for More Excitement

Slightly southeast of Echoland is the Misorano area, also home to a variety of rentals. (Photo: PIXTA)
Slightly southeast of Echoland is the Misorano area, also home to a variety of rentals. (Photo: PIXTA)

A centrally-located entertainment hub to the south of Happo One and Wadano, Echoland is known for its bustling dining options and nightlife, great for those who want some excitement even after a day of outdoor activities.

Although the Echoland area does not sit directly at the base of any ski resort, there is shuttle bus access to a variety of ski resorts within just a 10-minute drive, not just to the Happo One ski resort, but also Hakuba 47, Goryu, Iwatake, and Tsugaike ski areas to offer slopes catered to every skier’s level.

The biggest advantage of Echoland, however, is the wide variety of dining options, both bars and restaurants, ideal for travelers who still want to paint the town red at night.

Accommodation options are mostly within an affordable price range, with entire homes and apartments, and villas on offer, appealing to bigger groups and those with a tighter budget. The vibrant nightlife makes it ideal for younger travelers.

5 Best places to stay near Echoland

  • Nomad Hakuba
    • Address Hokujo 3020-880, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakuba Station (Oito Line)
      30 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

  • Hotel Soyokaze
    • Address Hokujo 3020-627, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakuba Station (Oito Line)
      30 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Goryu & Hakuba 47: For ski lovers wanting to be near the wider Hakuba Valley

Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park is one of the area's popular snow resorts (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park is one of the area's popular snow resorts (Photo: PIXTA)

Situated at the southern end of Hakuba Valley, Goryu and Hakuba 47 form a combined ski destination with a mix of piste runs, freestyle parks, tree runs, and backcountry areas. While Hakuba 47 has no lodgings, Goryu's base villages, Kamishiro and Iimori, offer various accommodations. Kamishiro features a scenic forest, local dining, and convenient lodging near the lifts. Iimori, a quieter residential zone, hosts the popular Hakuba Snow Sports School and offers select, high-quality lodgings. Ideal for large groups and families, the area is easily reached and connects to the wider Hakuba Valley via shuttle.

5 Best places to stay near Goryu & Hakuba 47

  • Snow Elephant
    • Address Kamishiro 22272-3, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kamishiro Station (Oito Line)
      18 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

  • B&B Santana Hakuba
    • Address Kamishiro 22203-152, Hakuba, Nagano, 399-9211
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kamishiro Station (Oito Line)
      13 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Iwatake: Panoramic Views of the Japanese Alps

Iwatake offers beautiful views in the green season as well. (Photo: PIXTA)
Iwatake offers beautiful views in the green season as well. (Photo: PIXTA)

Located between Happo One and Tsugaike, Iwatake Ski Resort is a lesser-known spot in Hakuba Valley, famous for its 360-degree vistas of Happo One and the Japan Alps.

The resort appeals for its uncrowded runs suitable for beginners and intermediates, as well as its budget-friendly accommodations near the slopes. Iwatake offers a low-key, authentic Japanese atmosphere with less English spoken and fewer international tourists.

Served by the Hakuba Valley shuttle, the resort comprises the adjacent villages of Kirikubo and Shinden. Both villages are reachable via the quaint Iwatake Line Lift, making Iwatake a top choice for travelers seeking affordability and authenticity.

2 Best places to stay near Iwatake

Tsugaike: The quieter village in Hakuba Valley

Tsugaike in winter (Photo: PIXTA)
Tsugaike in winter (Photo: PIXTA)

Located between Iwatake and Norikura at the northern tip of Hakuba Valley, Tsugaike specializes in beginner-friendly, spacious slopes while also offering tree skiing and easy-to-reach backcountry for more experienced skiers. Accommodations are modest yet convenient, with numerous ski-in/ski-out options. Dining and nightlife consist of a small selection of cozy eateries and bars serving Japanese fare. In contrast to the busier, more Westernized Happo One and Echoland, Tsugaike provides a quieter, more authentic Japanese experience. The village extends from Lower Tsugaike near the ski base to Upper Tsugaike along the northern piste. Shuttle buses link Tsugaike to the broader Hakuba Valley.

5 Best places to stay near Tsugaike

  • SKI INN HAKUBA
    • Address 12840- 1 Chikuniotsu , Otari, Nagano, 399-9422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakubaoike Station (Oito Line)

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

  • The Phat Packers
    • Address 12840-1 Chikuniotsu Otari-Mura The Phat Packers, Otari, Nagano, 399-9422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakubaoike Station (Oito Line)
      60 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    • Please enquire directly about rates.

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

  • Yamakyuso
    • Address Chikuniotsu 12840-1, Otari, Nagano, 399-9422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Hakubaoike Station (Oito Line)
      57 minutes on foot

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Norikura & Cortina: Northernmost tip of Hakuba Valley for deep snow

Hakuba Cortina evokes images of European ski chalets (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba Cortina evokes images of European ski chalets (Photo: PIXTA)

Located at the northernmost tip of Hakuba Valley past Tsugaike, the smaller but noteworthy ski resorts of Cortina and Norikura are prized for their deep snow and exceptional off-piste runs, making them powder-day hotspots. Though lacking full-fledged villages, each has select accommodations and an all-inclusive, ski-in/ski-out hotel. Cortina's Hotel Green Plaza features multiple dining options, a luxury onsen, and family amenities. Shuttle buses connect these resorts to the broader Hakuba Valley.

5 Best places to stay near Norikura & Cortina

  • SUNNSNOW Loghouse
    • Address Chikuniotsu 4379−1, Otari, Nagano, 399-9422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Chikuni Station (Oito Line)

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

  • Sunnsnow Tall house
    • Address 12856-1 Chikuni Otsu Otari Kittazumi-gun, Nagano, Nagano, 399-9422
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Chikuni Station (Oito Line)

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Types of accommodations to choose from

Hakuba offers a variety of accommodations in each season (Photo: PIXTA)
Hakuba offers a variety of accommodations in each season (Photo: PIXTA)

Mountainous Hakuba offers accommodations that resemble its alpine surroundings - with outdoor activities being the focal point. There are also a lot of options for longer-term stays, as Hakuba is particularly popular with those from neighboring cities as a place for relaxation.

Hotels
Hotels come in a variety of different types, ranging from luxury to more basic accommodation options, with most mainly ranging towards a higher price range. Luxury resort hotels and villas skewer towards providing guests with an exceptional experience, and are geared towards relaxation and a full resort experience. There are also larger, more economical hotels that provide convenient access to ski slopes, including ski-in and ski-out hotels.
Aparthotels
Aparthotels are great options if you are all about just needing a bed, and aren't too concerned about creature comforts, and can go without service or housekeeping. Unlike hotels, Aparthotels tend to be more economical with a reasonable price per night, with kitchens provided, resembling an apartment but with more services provided.
Entire Homes and Apartments
Homes and Apartments are geared towards bigger groups or those wanting privacy, and there is a wide variety ranging from the more economical, to those on the higher end of the price range offering panoramic views and unrivaled locations. Keep in mind especially in home and apartment options that Japan can have some quite strict garbage separation rules which you will need to follow.

Getting to Hakuba

(Photo: PIXTA)
(Photo: PIXTA)

Hakuba is easily accessible from both the Kanto and Kansai areas, with straightforward travel options from Tokyo and also Nagoya. JR Hakuba Station is also within walking distance of shops and restaurants.

Getting to Hakuba from Tokyo

Train
There is only one direct 'Azusa' express train available each day at 8:00 AM that goes from Shinjuku Station to Hakuba, arriving at 11:41 AM. This is a great option if you have a JR Rail Pass. You can check train schedules from Tokyo to Hakuba here.

Bus
Buses are available from Shinjuku to Hakuba, with prices for adults ranging from 5,800 to 7,000 yen. Travel time is a bit over 5 hours, and night buses are available.

Getting to Hakuba from Haneda & Narita Airports

The nearest international airports to Hakuba would be Haneda Airport and Narita Airport. Travel time would take around 3-4 hours via a Shinkansen heading to Nagano through Tokyo Station, or 5 hours for an airport shuttle bus. There are also options from international airports in Nagoya and from Kansai airport, which will take between 3.5 to 4.5 hours.

Alternatively, the Alpico Group offers a direct bus from both airports to Hakuba, which you can learn more about here. Note these routes are seasonal.

Recommended tours in Nagano

Written by:

Chehui Peh

Chehui Peh

With over 10 years of experience as a writer and marketer, Chehui writes extensively about travel, lifestyle, and food. Traveling is a part of her lifestyle, and she travels every chance she gets with the goal to explore all corners of Japan, no matter how difficult it is to get to. Graduated with a Masters of Anthropology from Waseda University and worked as a freelance journalist at Shanghai Daily for over 4 years, before branching out to travel journalism and contributing to Travel + Leisure and other renowned platforms. She holds certifications in Japanese Tea Ceremony, and Wine. On Instagram: @chelikestotravel.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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