Hakuba is a small town popular with skiiers, snowboarders and hikers. There are world famous slopes and can be reached easily from Tokyo – it’s a popular resort for a weekend of snowboarding or skiing. Go with an organised group or mid-week for discounts. Please see the main Hakuba article here for more information

Transport
Shinkansen – 6 hours via Matsumoto on the Azuza Limited Express,  8,000yen.
Local trains – 7 hours, 6,000.
Keio highway bus from Shinjuku Bus Station. They run every couple of hours, the trip takes 4-5 hours with a couple of rest stops along the way, but at least you’re guaranteed a seat and can take a nap.

When?
Obviously if you’re planning on skiing then winter is best. The peaks are usually open and snow covered from mid-November to April, but you might get a longer season during cold years.

Slopes

Hakuba hosted some events when the Winter Olympics were held in Nagano Prefecture in 1998, and you can see the ski jumps and courses laid out from then. There’s tons of slopes ranging from bunny hills to suicidally steep, and lots of ski lifts to take you up.

Hakuba Goryu – Very easy to reach from Hakuba, there’s a shuttle bus every 20-30minutes if you can’t handle the 10 minute walk. Goryu has some easy beginner slopes and steep advanced courses too, most of these are fairly short runs but if you go a bit off course you can get a good long ride in.

Hakuba 47 – Long adventure course – pretty narrow and with some steep drops. From Hakuba I went up in the biggest lift to the top, but the bottom of the adventure course ends on the other side of the mountain so its a long walk home.

About half the courses are intermediate but there’s a range of beginner slopes and longer advanced courses.

One day pass 4,500

Two day pass 8,000