Happo3.5 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
  • Recommend
    86%
  • Would Revisit
    86%
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Views from the top of Happo One Hakuba
Views from the top of Happo One Hakuba
More fabulous views at Happo One ski resort
More fabulous views at Happo One ski resort
The Adam Gondola
The Adam Gondola
Happo has great ski lessons in English
Happo has great ski lessons in English
The Sakka base is great for beginners
The Sakka base is great for beginners
Views of the Japanese Alps
Views of the Japanese Alps
A little off-piste area near the top
A little off-piste area near the top
Some great moguls can form at Happo One
Some great moguls can form at Happo One
Top of the resort provides access to the backcountry
Top of the resort provides access to the backcountry
The renowned backcountry
The renowned backcountry
The main street of Happo not far from the gondola
The main street of Happo not far from the gondola
Happo Village
Happo Village
Happo has some good ski shops
Happo has some good ski shops
The ski jump
The ski jump
Looking down to Hakuba Valley
Looking down to Hakuba Valley
The Happo Information Centre (and bus terminal)
The Happo Information Centre (and bus terminal)
Happo One has long groomed cruisers
Happo One has long groomed cruisers
Many families stay in the Happo area
Many families stay in the Happo area
Overlooking Happo Village
Overlooking Happo Village
Happo One has long groomed cruisers
Happo One has long groomed cruisers

Happo

The Happo One Ski Resort and the Happo Village that sits below it are the tourist and skiing hub of Hakuba Japan. Happo One (pronounced Happo “On Ay” as opposed to the number “one”) is the most popular of the Hakuba ski resorts, and many visitors to Hakuba only ski or snowboard at Happo. The Happo Village has lots of accommodation, and of the Hakuba villages, it has the highest concentration of shops, restaurants, bars, other amenities, and local transport options.

Happo One Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Happo One is a stand-alone resort that is fairly large by Japanese standards, although the official statistics of 13 courses and 220 hectares of piste terrain significantly under-represents the size of the resort. The ski area has a decent amount of vertical (1,071 metres) and a reasonably steep pitch, which made it ideal as the venue for the 1998 Winter Olympics slalom and downhill events, as well as the ski jumping.

The ski resort is incredibly well suited to intermediates with lots of groomed runs, and it’s a great place to be a speed demon. Happo also has some beginners’ terrain near the four base areas and piste runs for advanced skiers and snowboarders that are commonly covered in well formed moguls (for those lucky enough to have enough cartilage left in the knees).

Historically Hakuba Happo had a strong reputation for the prohibition of off-piste skiing. The powder police used to be out in force and with lots of deciduous trees, it limited the ability to be sneaky and remain camouflaged. Thankfully the patrollers have relaxed a little about off-piste riding, yet despite this, Happo doesn’t have that much good off-piste terrain in the upper reaches of the resort where the snow quality is optimal.

Where Happo really excels is the access to the Happo North Faces (that I like to call the Happy Faces!), the highly famed alpine backcountry with steep bowls and gnarly lines that sits above and behind the ski resort.

Happo Snow

Like many of the Hakuba ski resorts, the average snowfall per season at Happo One is 11 metres. The top of the Happo ski resort is the highest of the Hakuba ski areas and the upper reaches of the resort are in the sub-alpine, unlike most of the neighbouring resorts that are largely below the treeline. This higher elevation produces slightly better quality powder at the top, but the downside is that it’s more exposed to the weather.

Where is Happo?

The Happo Adam gondola (the main base of the Happo One Ski Resort) is located 2.6km west of the town of Hakuba. The Happo intersection and the nearby Happo Information Centres are about 1km from the gondola. See the Hakuba travel page for information on the location of Hakuba Japan and how to get there.

Happo One is flanked by the Hakuba 47 ski resort to the south and the Iwatake Snow Field to the north, but these resorts are not inter-connected via the lifts.

Happo Accommodation

Happo is a prime spot to stay because it’s right in the thick of all the action. The Happo Village sits below three base areas of the Happo One ski resort: Nakiyama; Shirakaba (gondola); and Kokusai. Much of the Happo accommodation is clustered within a short walk of the slopes and a few of the Happo hotels are ski-in ski-out.

Happo Accommodation Listings

The Wadano Village adjoins the Sakka base of Happo One. Many properties in Upper Wadano are ski-in ski-out and the best beginners’ terrain is at the Sakka base, so this area is popular with families who don’t have much need for nightlife. Lower Wadano is located close to the Kokusai base and finds a happy medium between access to the slopes and the restaurants and facilities.

Echoland is another village adjacent to Happo. It isn’t located within easy walking distance of Happo One, but advantages of staying in Echoland include economical accommodation and good bus connections to various Hakuba ski resorts including Happo.

See the Hakuba Accommodation page for more information and a map.

Ski Resort Facilities

Happo One has various on-mountain eateries as well as restaurants at each of the base areas.

You won’t have any difficulties finding ski and snowboard rentals in the Happo and Wadano area (see Hakuba ski rentals for more information).

There are a few options for ski school. Of note, Evergreen provides ski and snowboard group lessons in English for children and adults as well as “English speaking” child care (both a rarity in Japan). Evergreen are located at the Kokusai base and if you’re not staying within easy walking distance, they provide transport.

Pros and Cons of Happo Village and Happo One

Pros

  • Happo One is a large ski area with good terrain variety for beginners to advanced riders.
  • Happo is a family friendly resort with group ski lessons and child care conducted by English speaking staff.
  • The views of the Japanese Alps from the resort are rather spectacular.
  • The resort provides access to steep alpine backcountry terrain.
  • Happo is the most vibrant of the Hakuba villages and has restaurants, some nightlife, and ski shops.
  • The village is a central transport hub for regular buses to all the other ski resorts.
  • There is a wide range of Happo accommodation options including hotels, houses and apartments (self-contained accommodation is pretty rare at most Japanese ski resorts because it’s more of a western concept). 

Cons

  • The ski area and the village are very popular and can suffer from crowds during peak times. This can manifest in chopped up snow, lift lines and difficulty getting into a restaurant.
  • Off-piste and tree skiing opportunities are somewhat limited.

Pro or Con Depending on your Perspective

  • Happo is very westernised and most staff at the village establishments speak fluent English and many of the businesses are owned by gaijin.

Tours That May Include Happo One

Backcountry Skiing Tours
Alps to Coast Tour DETAILS
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC ADVENTURE
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin share room (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,691
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15
Ability: Advanced to Expert
The HAKUBA ALPS are the ultimate when it comes to steep alpine terrain in Japan and the MYOKO KOGEN area receives some of the highest snow falls in Japan. This backcountry tour takes in the steep & deep alpine terrain of the Hakuba Valley and the deep POW around Myoko.
More
Hakuba Powder Tour DETAILS
HAKUBA BACKCOUNTRY ADVENTURE
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin share room (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,691
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Most people who visit Hakuba only ever drool at the possible backcountry endless lines from a distance. This sidecountry and backcountry tour is your chance to explore the steep & deep backcountry terrain of the Hakuba Valley.
More
Hakuba Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on Hakuba day tour, group of 5 (price displayed is per person however full tour price is 5 X that price).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 124
5% discount off advertised price if you book before July 15 2017
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry or sidecountry. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
More
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Happo here