Different people have different ways of enjoying winter life. What we found interesting in Hakuba Iwatake is the variety of things and activities to do. You will surely find a way to enjoy yourself here even if you don’t ski or snowboard!
Hakuba Mountain Harbor
Apart from the ski slope itself, the main attraction of Hakuba Iwatake is Hakuba Mountain Harbor.
Opened in October 2018, this majestic viewpoint is located on an altitude of 1,289 m. With its eye-popping view, not only in winter, but the place is also a hot spot in Hakuba in other seasons as well.
The beautiful terrace of Hakuba Mountain Harbor offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Hakuba Three Peaks (Mt. Hakuba, Mt. Shakushi and Mt. Hakuba Yarigatake) covered in white snow. It is the perfect place for skiers and snowboarders to take a break between runs. The terrace faces toward the Iwatake Back Bowl ski slope, you can check out other snowboarders and skiers on the slopes below.
For ordinary visitors, it is also a must visit place when in the area. Actually, Hakuba Mountain Harbor is coming first on our list of the places to visit in Hakuba for non-skiers!
To warm yourself up while appreciating the superb scenery before your eyes, you can order a hot drink and pair it with some freshly baked muffins or sandwiches from a bakery, the CITY BAKER.
This New York-founded bakery in Hakuba is the first branch in Nagano prefecture. Some menus are made with local ingredients and available exclusively only at Hakuba Mountain Harbor. Our recommended menus are of course the signatures, baker’s muffin and hot chocolate!
HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR
Winter Season: 18 Dec 2020 – 28 Mar 2021
Green Season: Late Apr 2021 – Early Nov 2021
Opening Hours: 8:45-16:30 (It may differ depending on the seasons and gondola’s operating time. Please check with the Hakuba Mountain Harbor’s official website.)
THE CITY BAKER
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 15:30 (LO 15:00)
Next to the Hakuba Mountain Harbor, there is one little thing that every family member can enjoy. It is the “Yoo-Hoo Swing”, which is (probably) the highest swing you can find in Japan. You can fly as high as the rope parallel with the bar! Not many people can do that. Why don’t you give it a try?
Note: You must be taller than 110 cm. and weigh under 100 kg. to be able to get on the Yahoo swing. For your safety, do not stand or let go of your hands from the ropes.
Opening Hours: 10:00-12:00, 13:00-15:00 on sunny weekends (Due to the spread of COVID-19, the hours may be changed. Please check with the official website before going.)
Fare: 1,000 per person for a 2-minute ride (You’ll get one free drink coupon to use at THE CITY BAKER or Sky Ark Restaurant.)
*This information is as of 2021/01/22. It used to be 500 yen per person with no free drink coupon during the green season in 2020.)
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field
Established in 1952, Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field is one of the popular ski resorts in the Hakuba area. It is a medium-sized ski resort with most slopes that suit intermediate skiers and boarders. Don’t worry! There are also courses that will satisfy both the beginners and pros as well.
Number of Courses: 26
Longest Run: 3,300 m
Course Level: Beginner 30 % / Intermediate 50 % / Advanced 20 %
Here are some of the opinions from actual skiers and boarders about Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field.
- Though the courses are rather short, there’s a lot of variety!
- On sunny days, the views are just too amazing, the best in the Hakuba area! It gives you a panoramic view as far to the Hakuba Happo, Tsugaike, Hakuba Norikura and Cortina.
- Not quite suitable for a long cruising but more for repetitive short runs.
- For intermediate players, the "View” courses are recommended!
- The south course at the top has a wide gentle slope, a good pick for beginners.
- When the restaurants on the summit are crowded, it might be better to find something to eat around the foothill.
- The east course is short but has steady slopes, suitable for a practice.
- There’s a snow park on the summit.
- Even when crowded, it still less busy than other ski resorts in the area.
- Since Hakuba Iwatake is used as a students’ ski competition site, it best suits intermediate players with lots of slopes for practicing.
Iwatake White Park
On the summit area, the whole area is divided into 3 zones: relaxing and photogenic zone, playing zones and pet zone.
For those to like to enjoy a quiet and relaxing time, not involving in moving your body around. We highly recommend checking out the relaxing and photogenic zone. There is a plenty of spaces with private lovely igloos and tents for you to freely use while leisurely enjoying you time alone (or not alone 😊), maybe just reading a good book or having a good talk with your friends. Normally, there are a lot more attractions but due to the ongoing pandemic, it looks like they are closing some of the attractions such as the snow dome and ice tables.
Another good thing here is that it is pet friendly. There is even an area dedicated to pets! You can bring your pets on the gondola (plus 700 yen) and let them run freely in the pet zone. (The dogs must be leashed when in other areas.)
The last one is the playing zone. At other ski resorts, we normally see kids park around the foothill area. But here at Hakuba Iwatake, it is in the summit area! You can rent a snow tube, a sled or even snow boots for free. Not only little kids, those who try to ski or snowboard for the first time can take a lesson and learn basic movements here, too.
Getting to Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort
From Nagano to Hakuba
From the Nagano Station (bus stop no. 26), there are about 12 roundtrip buses to Hakuba daily. 2 out of 12 roundtrips go directly to Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort. Those buses depart from Nagano station at 8:05 and 8:55, and depart from Hakuba back to Nagano at 16:00 and 16:45. The above mentioned direct buses to Hakuba Iwatake are available for online booking.
Note: There are more frequent buses during green season (4 round-trip buses a day).
If your plan doesn’t match with the departure times of the direct buses, alternatively, you can board the same bus line and get off at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal. Then transfer to a ski resort shuttle to reach Hakuba Iwatake.
From Shinjuku to Hakuba
There are buses running between Shinjuku and Hakuba 7 roundtrips a day. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus to Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Harbor. The easiest way is to get off at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal and change to the Hakuba ski shuttle bus.
From Kyoto/Osaka to Hakuba
The Osaka-Hakuba route is a night bus service, recommended for those who don’t want to waste any time and want to enjoy skiing as much as possible! Same as how to get to Hakuba from Shinjuku, since there is no direct bus to Hakuba Iwatake, you have to transfer one time at the Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal to board a ski shuttle bus.
Gondola and Lift to Hakuba Iwatake
Next to the Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Harbor bus stop is the Noah Gondola Station. It takes about 8 minutes from the foothill station to the summit station.
Gondola Roundtrip Tickets: 2,100 yen
Gondola and Ski Lift Fare
1-Day Gondola and Ski Lift Ticket: 4,600 yen
2-Day Gondola and Ski Lift Ticket: 8,100 yen
(There are discounts for ski lift tickets when purchase online. Click here for more details.)