The Village of Hakuba, Japan
Nestled in the heart of the Japan Alps and towered over by the Hakuba “San-Zan” or “Three Peaks”, Hakuba has more than just snow with hiking, trekking and mountain-biking popular through the green season and a range of activities run by Outdoor Tour Operators including canyoning, rafting and paragliding, and kayaking & canoeing on the nearby Lake Aoki. Nowhere can you witness the changing of the seasons in such detail as you can in Japan, and the four seasons in Hakuba are truly distinct. Spring comes late April as the snow melts and the blossoms and green shoots appear, some of which are a delicacy gathered by locals and tourists alike. The rainy season pours water into Hakuba’s lakes and rivers and enlivens the forest before Summer: short, sweet and treasured. Autumn is incredibly beautiful as the leaves change beginning at the tree line and slowly working there way down to village level, and hiking at this time of year the Alpine views are some of the world’s best.
Winter brings an average of 11/12 meters of snowfall and the landscape is transformed. As one of the host areas of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba has world-class runs on no less than 12 resorts within easy reach. There is something here for every level, and with this many resorts to choose from one could spend a week, a season even, just exploring the groomed trails.
The resorts of Hakuba have bred many Olympic and World Cup medalists, and it is easy to see why. The incredible variety of runs provides skiers of any ability room to improve; and when you’re ready for them, runs that have been used in World Cup and Olympic events are waiting. If you’re looking to learn to ski / snowboard, or advance your skills. Evergreen International Ski School is the place to do it. Powder hounds are also in for a treat – the 3000m peaks and the prevailing weather pattern ensures that fresh snow is frequent and plentiful. Get up for the first gondola on these mornings to make your mark on long, thigh burning top to bottom runs. Though access to the backcountry is relatively easy, avalanches are a fact of life and people die every year from entering these areas without the knowledge, experience or equipment. Don’t be one of these statistics; respect the ropes and if you wish to ski backcountry take a BC tour with a certified backcountry guide and/or begin your education with an Avalanche Skills Training course.