- There are many scenic spots all over Japan which bring to mind the expression ‘fuko-meibi’ (‘The scenery of the landscape is outstandingly beautiful and captivates the heart’). However, it is Hakuba Village in Nagano Prefecture, with its overwhelming sense of scale and grandeur, where inbound touristic demand is rocketing. Since the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, the number of tourists visiting the Hakuba area has shown a rapid year-on-year increase to become one of the world’s leading mountain resort destinations. Social media exposure has added extra momentum: word-of- mouth posts praising its dynamic vistas and top-quality powder snow have led to a flood of tourists from Australia and Europe as well as other parts of Asia. Known as the mecca of winter sports, Hakuba Valley with its ten ski resorts became affiliated with Epic Pass along with globally ranked ski hotspots, a reason the area has been added to the ski wish-list for tourists from outside Japan.
Yojiro Fukushima, Director of the Tourism Commission of Hakuba Village, says:
“Our image as a global mountain resort is established, and we get a lot of tourists coming for a lengthy stay in winter especially. An increasing number of guests visiting Japan use Hakuba as a base to do sightseeing in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and elsewhere. We aim to boost tourism even more with a combination of its dual mainstays, outdoor activities and Japan’s unique culture of hospitality and service.”
- In order to meet the needs of so-called sports tourism, Hakuba also offers opportunities for activities that give people a taste of the area’s magnificent natural environment even outside winter. Mountain Bike Park in Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort, complete with a 6,900-meter flow trail in line with international standards, is popular with a wide range of riders; and in summer people can enjoy standup paddle-boarding, kayaking, fishing and other activities at Lake Aoki to the north of the city of Omachi.
- Hakuba Village is also a hot spring area with six sources, something of a rarity in Japan. The hot springs lay claim to various health-giving effects, and some have fine views overlooking the magnificent Hakuba Sanzan (the three famous peaks of the Hakuba Valley), guaranteed to sooth away any travel fatigue. One of the pleasures of travel for many people is food: Hakuba Village is not lacking in good places to eat, with over 100 restaurants and bars. There’s a huge variety to choose from, ranging from casual drinking dens to Japanese restaurants where you can enjoy local specialties like soba noodles and monkfish hotpot.
- Whether spring, summer, fall or winter, Hakuba welcomes visitors with a different face whatever the season. The fresh green of spring colored by beautiful blooms; the refreshing breeze of summer; fall leaves blazing with red that seem to color the very sky; and winter embraced in a world of white and silver. You’ll want to return to this place again and again in search of excitement and emotion inspired by the natural world here.
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