Alpine views, deep powder and fabulous mountain scenery – welcome to Japan. Although it’s no secret that Japan is one of the world’s best destinations for skiing and snowboarding, most people don’t realise just how good it really is. Lucky for you we do, and whilst it’s a bit further to travel, we think it’s definitely worth going the extra mile. Slice through crisp, white snow, fortify yourself with sushi and wind down with a relaxing soak in hot springs – we guarantee you’ve never had a ski holiday quite like this one.
Still relatively undiscovered by the western market, the village of Happo One in the Hakuba Valley not only puts you ahead of the crowd, but provides the perfect base from which to explore the area’s wintersports resorts.
The entire valley, situated in the heart of the Japanese Alps, is blessed with abundant snow and stunning vistas with 3000-metre-high mountain peaks – a skiers and boarders dream.
If you can drag yourself away from the adrenaline rush of the slopes, there are plenty more adventures to be had: try snow rafting and trekking, or even hot air ballooning. One of our favourite ‘must sees’ is the native snow monkey population. They bathe in the hot water springs in Jigokudani, just a couple of hours away.
Whatever your activity, recharge your batteries at lunch with a bowl of steaming noodles and a hot cup of sake on the mountainside – we love these quirky additions that make a ski holiday in Japan unique.
At night, indulge in more Japanese tradition by taking a dip in an onsen, a natural mineral outdoor hot spring bath. Relax in the soothing waters and let the aches and strains of a day on the slopes drain away. Revitalised and refreshed head out to explore the small cosy bars and restaurants that line the narrow streets in the village. Sample fantastic traditional Japanese cuisine from sushi and rahmen to regional dishes focusing on local mountain vegetables.
The combination of perfect snow, stunning scenery and après ski with a twist makes Japan a must-visit destination for any keen skier or boarder. Swap your vin chaud for sake before the word spreads…
december - march
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Japan, Hakuba Valley, Kitaazumi.