Happo

Happo

Overall Rating

Happo

Happo3.5/59
Happo3.5 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
  • Recommend
    78%
  • Would Revisit
    78%

Happo - Reviews

Happo - Reviews

Why the hype? Happo is Ordinary

Scoop
28/01/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    4

Why the hype? Happo is Ordinary

Scoop
28/01/2020
There’s no way of sugar coating this review: Happo-one is a very ordinary ski resort by global standards based on six days skiing there and neighbouring Hakuba 47 in late January 2020. Lifts are old and slow, queues huge, infrastructure outdated and poorly planned, runs limited, grooming virtually non existent despite the mountain being packed with beginners and a feeling that the people who run the place haven’t invested a yen since the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Same applies to village, which is random and somewhat down at heel. Most buildings haven’t seen a lick of paint since they were built. Same story with accommodation. Much more expensive than leading Europe resorts and inversely inferior. We paid $500 a night for a triple share in a property that had nice staff, hard beds, lumpy pillows, threadbare carpet and towels. That was all we could get 4 months out, such is the mysterious thirst for Japanese skiing. It looks like hoteliers feel they don’t have to invest because there’s no competition and a shortage of rooms. As for the local transport within and between the resorts, don’t get me started. It’s third world awful. One village bus had a sign saying “it’s faster to walk after 3pm". Says it all really. The nightlife also sucks. Better off looking elsewhere. PS: pistes superior at Hakuba 47 but powder options in both resorts extremely limited.

Instructor's View of Happo One

Big Red
17/06/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    N/A
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    5

Instructor's View of Happo One

Big Red
17/06/2019
bottom of Grat, looking up
North face, from top of Grat
Shirakaba aka White Birch
Karamatsu South face
top of Kurobishi, looking at the backside of Mt Myoko in the far distance
I have been a crossover instructor for 3 years in HappoOne and lived in Hakuba for a summer as well. Happo is a great in bounds resort for intermediate and advanced skiers, but side country is minimal. It does lack easy green terrain for beginners and there are better resorts in the valley for teaching. For experts, the back country is easily accessible from the top lift, through the beacon gate.

Site of various 1998 Olympic downhill events, Happo is fairly steep and has decent vertical by Japanese standards. There is a lot of terrain above and skier's left of the gondola station that I highly recommend for intermediate/advanced riders to train and test the mettle, ie) Skyline, Kurobishi, Grat, Usagidaira, etc. As long as it is open, this area is usually much quieter, and much of it has a northern aspect ie) retains snow quality in the afternoons. Much of it is challenging without being too difficult. I tend to stay away from popular runs such as Panorama and Riesen as much as I can with students as it is overcrowded, filled with mixed abilities and snow quality can drop off in the afternoons. Happo is very much an intermediate resort and gets bumped up fairly quickly by Japanese mogul monsters. Fortunately for us powderhounds, the Japanese continue to ski bumps with such blinding fervor that it leaves plenty of powder stashes to be sniffed out, even in the afternoons.

For beginners, there is not a whole lot of terrain other than the far north end of the resort, Saka. This area has two beginner chairs that offload at green runs as well as a magic carpet and kids play area in front of Saka plaza. But the Saka 2 lift is jam packed and a 15-20 min wait on the weekends is not unusual for Saka 2. While Saka 3 is a tad bit steeper, there is almost never a line. Saka 4 brings you to the top of that side of the resort and you can take the cat track down which is flat, except for the very end which can be side slipped/walked down if necessary. A locals tip would be to only buy the "Saka Debut" pass for your beginners and they can ride those three lifts for half the price of a usual day pass.
Also for kids, the 500 yen to get into the play area and magic carpet is well worth it as there are lots f different activities inside the play area where kids can romp around in the snow. There is also a play area in Saka Plaza for the rugrats. If your beginners can wedge stop and turn, or can toe/heel slide, you could also head over to the far south end of the resort, Nakiyama as well as the middle of the resort, Shirakaba. Again, only if your students are not "never-evers" and can at least ride a bit of a steeper green, or lower level red run. I do highly recommend these areas, especially Shirakaba as it is delightfully empty most weekdays and ideal training ground to get those planks together, or for boarders learning to S turn.

Experts will find some joy in bounds in the trees at Skyline, Onigiri (Omusubi) and and Urakuro when open, apart from that, you can duck ropes but run the risk of getting passes pulled as well as getting terrain trapped. Side country is minimal but can be found. Can also head over to Happo Banks for some tricking, although it is not a park per say, there are some banks that can be used as a kicker out, or hucked into.

Back country is fantastic in Happo and not quite as crowded as some other well traveled out of bounds areas in the valley. The north face is where the Freeride World Tour has taken place the past two seasons. There is, of course, the South and North faces of Karamatsu at the top of Grat, which should only be accessed with an expert group of back country riders, or a guide, with the correct gear and training. Just ride to the top of the resort, use the last lodge there as needed, submit your back country plan and beep through the beacon gate. While it is easily accessible, all necessary precautions should always be taken as people lose their lives here every year.

Overall, a fantastic resort that is much steeper than most of Hokkaido, highly recommended groomers for intermediates and advanced riders. Accessible, incredible back country and some beginner slopes near the far ends of the resort. Lots of accommodation, English lessons, restaurants and rentals around the base.

Must visit.

Nicholas Mynott
20/11/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    2

Must visit.

Nicholas Mynott
20/11/2016
Hakuba itself is perfect. Beautiful people, beautiful mountain, heaps of options within a short drive, awesome powder + small crowds. Hakuba unlike other ski mountains still feels like traditional Japan. It's super accessible from Tokyo and plenty of option for night life or eating. Book a trip and check it out.

Family Ski Holiday in Japan

Jessica
18/06/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    12-17
  • Admin Rating
    1

Family Ski Holiday in Japan

Jessica
18/06/2016
Good choice of skiing option at Happo One and surrounding resorts. Consistent snow. Good value. Most people can speak English. Lots of Aussies there.

Disappointed

James Fox
13/06/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    3

Disappointed

James Fox
13/06/2016
Uncrowded, quiet on and off the mountain - That was the only upside here. Snow was terrible, nightlife non existent (bars empty, no real apres ski experience), this resort is clearly set up for budget seeking boarders. If you have money to spend and are looking for an up-market experience, forget about Hakuba. Great for 22 year olds on a budget, which is what they cater to. Season was super short (this year was only 2 months!), as are the runs, so be warned. Food on the mountain was nothing short of disgusting (think freshman uni student on budget, you'll get the idea) Super disappointed, will try Niseko next season, heres hoping I can find some deep snow and a decent bar not full of 20 year old CUBS...

Happy Happo

Jarrod Diermajer
27/06/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Admin Rating
    3

Happy Happo

Jarrod Diermajer
27/06/2015
I found Happo one to be more of a skiers mountain (mostly groomed runs and moguls). In terms of location it was great, because we stayed at the base of the mountain, meaning we didn't have to get up before the sun to secure a solid day of riding.

Personally i felt like we should have stayed somewhere that was walking distance from the Happo info center. As we found that most of our days were spent at other mountains, requiring us to get a bus to the info center and then a bus to the mountain of choice. A lot of effort for so early in the morning.

Happo one is a good mountain for beginners and skiers who enjoy groomed runs and moguls, not the ideal mountain for a snowboarder chasing powder and tree runs.

Great terrain, decent snow in Spring, good facilities

Damian
24/03/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Admin Rating
    4

Great terrain, decent snow in Spring, good facilities

Damian
24/03/2015
OVERALL: Spent 10 days in mid-March 2015, and would definitely like to revisit for at least a week. Decent facilities and good terrain gives it good re-ride value.

PROS: In mid-March 2015 over a 10 day trip, we had 3 good powder days (>15cm). Great terrain and varied with excellent cat trails, decent steep runs (though probably not true black or blue runs). Had some good long runs too. I tend to try everything until I find runs I like and stick with them; I was able to do this on 3 runs in particular at Happo. Restaurants were moderately priced, plentiful and provided some variety (including Japanese and western food). Decent lifts of adequate speed and good facilities. Lifts weren't super busy (longest wait was 5 minutes for one particularly popular lift). Great night life, good variety of restaurants and a nearby convenience store with an international ATM.

CONS: Spring conditions caused freeze-thaw on 2 days and moderate slush on 5 days out of the trip. Not much immersion in Japanese culture with the resort filled with Aussies, making it difficult to "escape" from home, can get crowded on weekends even during Spring especially on the weekends.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Panorama course, Skyline course, Usagadaira runs area

The Hub of Hakuba

21/04/2014

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powder Enthusiast
Powder Enthusiast

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powder Enthusiast
Powder Enthusiast
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    4

The Hub of Hakuba

21/04/2014
It’s easy to see why Happo One is popular with many of the skiers and snowboarders that come to Hakuba considering the plentiful snowfall, the size of the ski area, and the many long trails for cruising or zooming. It’s also great for families, and staying in Happo has the advantage of being close to the restaurants, izakayas and shops.

We love the village but for us personally the ski resort is not one of our favourite Hakuba ski resorts for in-bounds riding, because as powder hounds we are usually in search of the perfect untouched powder slope. Due to high skier traffic Happo can be a little too bumpy for my taste, and there doesn’t seem to be that many great spots for off-piste riding where the snow conditions are ideal. There is also a little bit too much competition for the freshies relative to some of the other neighbouring resorts.

The snow at Happo can be a little better than the other resorts due to higher altitude and a reasonably lengthy season.

Other pros and cons are summed up on the Happo One overview page.

Hakuba Valley resorts

Keir Anderson
15/04/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Admin Rating
    4

Hakuba Valley resorts

Keir Anderson
15/04/2014
I've been back three times now. I've skied in Australia, NZ, Colorado, Austria and Switzerland and I've got to say that for me Hakuba has three main advantages. It's never too crowded, I don't remember ever waiting more than 30 seconds for a chair lift. From my experience you tend to get a good snowfall every three days. Thirdly Japanese culture is just something to experience.

On the negative side the dining and nightlife options can be very limited. You pretty much always need a reservation at any of the restaurants to get dinner, although I can't complain about any of the meals I've had. The nightlife can also be very quiet. There are a couple of nice little bars in Goryu, Echoland and Happo Village but most don't seem to open until 10pm. Still if you're with a group of mates, that will do and I've had many a great night just talking to the Japanese bar staff.