Resort Review: Happo One, Hakuba

Resort Review: Happo One, Hakuba

If you were looking for something to put a place on a map, hosting an Olympic Games would surely help draw the attention. Well when Japan was chosen to host the 1998 games in Nagano, Happo became the centre stage.

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First impressions

If you are visiting Hakuba the purpose built village surrounding the flagship resort Happo One has a plethora of accommodation, restaurants, ski shops and ski schools. This means for a lot of visitors, Happo will be their closest resort and where they base themselves for the duration of their stay. With multiple base areas you can actually start your day at Happo from a number of entry points. Nakiyama is home to the local ski school and close to a number of local hire shops. Saka is the most melow area and will be where you find the most suitable beginner terrain whereas Shirakaba is the base of the main Gondola which will quickly move skiers to mid mountain. Interestingly at Happo you have to take a combination of lifts to get to the top meaning one top to bottom lap often consists of three lift rides to get back to the peak.

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The Terrain

 If you are looking for one resort that fits all for your Hakuba holiday, Happo is probably the one to choose. Happo has a good mixture of terrain with a beginners base at Saka slopes which is nice and mellow for those first turns. Intermediates will really enjoy the spread of the runs with lots of wide groomers in addition to some more challenging bump runs and an Olympic course to try. Advanced riders will find opportunity to explore with some easy access backcountry accessible via a short hike from the top of Grat Quad.

Happo also opens its Nakiyama slope at night which gives you the chance to keep practicing those turns. Honestly, for anyone over beginner level the terrain open at night leaves a lot to be desired, but it certainly makes for a unique experience.

What we Love about Happo…

Happo is easy access, in close reach of the main accommodation hubs which can not be said for all Hakuba resorts. From Happo you can visit all of the other resorts via the inter resort shuttles which stop at the multiple base areas. Staying at Happo is well worth it with plenty of open terrain in addition to the pisted runs. The trees are unique at Happo and the views are spectacular.

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 What We Dislike About Happo…

Lift lines. Lift lines suck wherever you are and in Happo you are more likely to encounter lift lines than at other Hakuba resorts. It is a victim of its own success with terrain that suits the whole family, maybe its worth the sacrifice.  

Travel to resort

Getting to Happo is simple from Tokyo airport. Simply book the coach, which picks and drops you directly from the terminal to the Hakuba Base Station. Similarly you can access Hakuba and Happo by Shikansen but this will require you to change trains. If you are taking the train it is worth considering using the courier service at the airport, which delivers your ski bag directly to your accommodation. This will prevent you lugging your bags on multiple trains.

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 We would recommend this place for…

Great for families or groups of differing ability, Happo also draws expert skiers and snowboarders who want easy access backcountry. The area around Happo is lively so also attracts a younger crowd then the quieter resorts of Norikura and Sanosaka.


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