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.
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 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. Also see our Hakuba accommodation map
to see where each property is in relation to the lifts and other village.
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
- 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).
- 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