To many foreigners, this year’s holidays might not be the most joyful as we can’t book a flight home to spend time with our loved ones. However, Japan has far more to offer this season than you might have expected, and Hakuba—a bustling mountain village in Nagano—is the perfect destination to enjoy all sorts of activities in the snow.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dave Enright, the director and founder of Evergreen Outdoor Center in Hakuba. The company has been around for more than 20 years, and they are well known for providing inclusive outdoor activity programs year-round in Nagano, from mountain biking and lake paddling in the summer to ski lessons and snowshoe adventures in the winter.
In this article, Dave walks us through some of the most interesting things you can do in Hakuba this winter and introduces us to various activity packages provided by Evergreen Outdoor Center.
We want to let all foreigners living in Japan, the expats, who are looking at a hard time traveling outside the country know that they are very welcome in Hakuba. You will enjoy it here because we have a great mix of mountain culture and the traditional Japanese culture. We work with 10 ski resorts down in the valley, and we are confident that you will have a comfortable experience in Hakuba.
Other than that, I think that the vibe in town will be more Japan-based than possibly it has been in the past few years. As a destination, Hakuba has a lot to offer that other ski resorts around Japan don’t provide. Take our snowshoeing tours, for instance. Or you can learn how to ski in the morning ski through the day and gather your family and friends to do a chocolate fondue snowshoe, with locally grown strawberries and mulled wine, in the evening. We have a strawberry farm that uses thermal energy here in the valley to heat the greenhouses and makes strawberries all through the winter.
Plus, Hakuba is close to Tokyo. By Shinkansen, you can arrive at Nagano Station in 80 minutes from Tokyo Station. And then from there, it’s an easy one-hour drive, whether you rent a car, jump on the bus, or have your hotel pick you up. Or take the Super Azusa Express train from Shinjuku directly to Hakuba—it takes just three and a half hours and offers beautiful views of Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. It is surely way faster, more comfortable, and even safer, when compared to hopping on a plane to, let’s say, Canada or even Hokkaido.
Activities provided by Evergreen Outdoor Center
We run a well-rounded international ski school, offering you and your family an extra special winter experience. We work with small children from three years old all the way to adults, and teach everyone, from beginners through experts.
We will be running the kids’ programs through the holidays until the middle of January and then on the weekends through to the end of March.
If you prefer a more tailored experience, Evergreen has highly skilled private instructors that will pick up at your hotel and take you to any of the resorts in the Hakuba Valley—sometimes even two resorts in one day.
We also provide ski instructor and snowboard instructor certification courses though our Alpine Academy.
Come and explore the vast Hakuba backcountry and some of the very best powder skiing in Japan. We highly recommend this tour if you have a group of friends with similar skiing or boarding ability and you would like to create amazing memories with your group of friends. We can certainly adjust the tour based on your level of experience.
The Alps View—a ski-in, ski-out accommodation that offers you the best views of the Japanese Northern Alps—is my recommendation for ease of access to the slopes. You can book your accommodation in a bundle with ski lessons or a backcountry ski tour and get discounts on the whole package through the Go To Travel campaign.
If you plan to go to Hakuba over winter vacation and are interested in the offerings we provide, make sure you check out our full list of activities on our official website.
We are also offering discounts on select outdoor activities and group lessons for GoConnect Members.
I and my team of professionals are looking forward to guiding you around the beautifully spectacular Hakuba Valley.