Where should I begin? Its stunning, snow-capped mountains? Its warm, welcoming locals? Or its fine (yet fun) dining experiences? How about: this gem should definitely be on everyone’s “Must-See” list!
The picturesque village of Hakuba, conveniently located just a few hours from the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo via shinkansen, Japan’s famed “bullet train”, was launched on to the world stage in 1998 when it played host to the Nagano Winter Olympic Games. Since then, many avid alpine enthusiasts from around the globe have indulged in its fresh powder, steamy springs and rapid rafting.
My experience of Hakuba, though, may have been slightly different to most snow-bunnies or mountain hikers who enjoy the village year round: I was helping out my family with the opening of a beautiful, newly transformed boutique ski hotel called Phoenix Hakuba. From handing skiers flyers announcing their plush bar and restaurant, Mimi’s, to mocking up floor plans for the first iteration of their website (which is now much slicker!), Phoenix Hakuba kept my mate and I out of mischief.
Even though we were committed to the Phoenix cause, we always found time to enjoy ourselves, and of course, the natural and cultural beauty of one of Japan’s premier alpine regions. The fresh powder that settled atop the slopes almost every night at Happo-One, our nearest ski resort, gave us the perfect conditions to ski and snowboard all day long – Hakuba was our own winter wonderland!
One sunny day we even took the opportunity to visit the local snow monkeys in their natural habitat: a few bubbling hot springs on the edge of a plunging ravine that overlooks a winding valley comprised of towering, snow-white trees – like something you might read about in a fairytale.
That is Hakuba!
This is Japan, your winter wonderland!
So, when are you heading over to say, “Konnichiwa, Hakuba!”?
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