Hakuba Ski Resort is one of Japan’s largest and most popular resorts, one which developed quickly during the 1980’s boom, with a flurry of new hotels and ski lodges as well as lift infrastructure. After the economic bubble burst in the early 1990’s, many of Japan’s ski resorts fell into disrepair as the domestic market could no longer afford weekend trips.
The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics changed things for Hakuba however, bringing the otherwise unknown resort to fame and attracting foreign attention. Since then, international visitors to Hakuba has continued to increase each year, especially in the last decade or so. The inbound market, mostly professional families from Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia have fuelled major development in resort infrastructure, accommodation, dining and shopping options in the Hakuba Valley Area, especially in the last couple of years.
The last year especially has seen huge transformations, with major developments in resort infrastructure, luxury accommodations, new world-class dining scene, all working to place Hakuba on this list of truly international ski resorts.
Major lift ticketing system overhaul
Visitors to Hakuba are now able to access all 9 ski resorts on a single Hakuba Valley Lift Pass. Most resorts also now allow you to walk straight through the gates, instead of having to trade in your pass for a ticket per day, which is a huge step forward after a rather clunky and separate system.
Hakuba Base Camp
Last season saw the opening of Hakuba Base Camp in Echoland, a much needed addition to the existing Happo Bus Terminal, which was over capacity. The Base Camp encompasses a huge 4,200 sqm and offers a wide variety of services to newly arriving and departing Hakuba visitors, servicing Nagano Snow Shuttle, the free resort shuttles, and from winter 2019, also the Hakuba Valley Shuttle (free to ride with the Hakuba Valley Lift Pass).
Hakuba on Epic Pass
Beginning 2018-19 winter season, the Hakuba Valley will be included on the Epic Pass! Epic Pass connects the best resorts around the globe and pass holders will include 5 consecutive days access to Hakuba Valley’s 9 ski resorts, with no blackout dates.
Investment at Iwatake Resort
This summer will see major investment in Iwatake ski resort, such as Mountain Harbour at Iwatake, a mountaintop terrace overlooking the spectacular views of the Northern Japanese Alps. Mountain Harbour will feature the famous NY “The City Bakery”, and promises to be an amazing place to relax! Iwatake will also be seeing lift upgrades, as well as possible Iwatake Village development with traditional style street (accommodations, restaurants etc similar to the Niseko Village area).
Resort Shuttle App
There will be a new app for the Hakuba Valley resort shuttles launching next winter. The historically complicated Hakuba Valley shuttle system should be easier to navigate with this new technology.
Hakuba is increasingly attracting flagship stores such as Patagonia and North Face, and this summer will be opening Phenix, a Japanese outdoor brand, a huge draw for people visiting Hakuba.
Hakuba has a plethora of wonderful and delicious restaurants to satisfy a range of palate from traditional Japanese to 5 star French cuisine to Italian. The range and quality of restaurants has most definitely been thanks to the influx of foreign visitors and the demand!