Hakuba is one of the most popular (and also easily accessible) ski getaways for Tokyoites come winter. However, more than half a dozen resorts remain open during the off-season and they’re worth a visit, too, especially for the lush green nature. Hakuba Iwatake Mountain Resort, which recently started offering an off-road go-kart experience in the mountains, now has one more big draw card for visitors this autumn.
This October, the ski resort is opening Hakuba Hitotokinomori, a new observation area 1,100 metres above sea level on Mt Iwatake, where you can marvel at the beautiful autumn foliage on Japan’s Northern Alps. You’ll also get a spectacular view of the Karamatsuzawa Glaciers in the background and a view over the entire town of Hakuba.
This isn’t just a soulless glass box observation deck, either – it’s a massive open space surrounded by lush greenery. To get there, you’ll need to take Gondola Noah (¥2,100, children ¥1,150) up to the summit and walk a few minutes downhill.
While you’re there, pop inside tea and scone café Chavaty, which has an outdoor terrace that overlooks the resort. You’ll find all the same drinks and desserts that are offered at the café’s Omotesando outlet, but we recommend trying some of the Hakuba-exclusive items like the kuromoji herbal tea scone.
The 5sen South lift will also be operating during the off-season for the first time, meaning you’ll be able to get directly from Hakuba Hitotokinomori to the summit of Mt Iwatake in just seven minutes. At the top, you can enjoy mountain biking as well as attractions like the Hakuba Mountain Harbor and Café, and the Yoo-Hoo Swing with its breathtaking views. You can even bring your dog to the designated pet park, and get your furkid a meal specially prepared for dogs.
Check the Hakuba Hitotokinomori website for more information about the mountaintop observation area.
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