We went to skiing at Hakuba last weekend. Hakuba is just a one and a half hour drive from Matsumoto. The Japanese word “hakuba” means “white horse” so most Japanese have a good opinion about Hakuba. Now, it is also getting very popular with foreigners, especially Australians, for it’s great snow, the 1998 Olympic courses, and cheaper prices than Europe.
In addition to enjoying skiing and snowboarding, people sometimes come to Matsumoto and enjoy Japanese culture and historical spots like Matsumoto Castle. Most of them also go to Gigokudani Hot Spring to watch the snow monkeys who are now world famous.
We went to Goryu Ski Resort and Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park, which are the most popular among foreigners in Hakuba. I saw many foreigners at the resorts in spite of the strong yen and the world-wide economic recession. We were six Japanese and two Americans and we all enjoyed a great day in Hakuba.
Other ski resorts:
Hakuba Happo is famous for its Olympic downhill, super-G, and combined courses and jumping stadium, so it’s popular with professional-level skiers.
There is an Olympic cross-country ski course called “Snow Harp” in Hakuba Sanosaka.
Norikura Ski Resort and Nomugi Pass Ski Resort is closer to downtown Matsumoto and it also has great snow.