Hiking in Japan

October 21st, 2014 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities
Spectacular views at Happo Ike

Hakuba’s main attraction during the warmer months is the hiking and the most popular day hike would be Happo Ike ( Happo Pond). Each day hundreds of people of all ages ascend up into the mountains to this spectacular viewing platform. I would rate it on a world scale at “as good as it gets”.  The journey starts with a Gondola ride and then 2 chairlifts that are lowered after the winter which brings you closer to the natural foliage. The top of the resort by itself has some amazing views for those not up to the hiking and is certainly worth the trip. For the more adventurous the 45 minute hike along some rocky pathways and boardwalk steps will offer up some breathtaking vistas along the way. The route follows the ridgeline so there are many vantage spots for photos and even the most novice of photographers will be taking professional shots here. The rocky step sections along the way can be a little difficult to manoeuvre so take your time on the hike and absorb the environment. Once you reach the pond the views will amaze you with the stunning back drop of 3000 meter peaks. This is truly a special place.

View from the top of the lifts
Hakuba Japan
The steps make it quite easy but there is some stone trails too
Japan hiking
The trails are well marked
Happo Pond
Beautiful first view of the pond


Hakuba snow peaks
Amazing peaks in the background
Hiking in Japan
My favourite place
Snow in Hakuba
There can be fresh snow in spring and autumn
Myoko mountain range
The views to the east
Paragliding in Japan
Tandem paragliding can be booked for a birdseye view
Autumn in Japan
The views on the way down are just as stunning
Hakuba autumn
Autumn leaves and fresh snow on the peaks

Tips. Take warm clothing with you. Conditions can change in an instant. Take some food and a drink and enjoy a picnic lunch next to the pond. Even a bottle of wine or champagne has been known to be popped up there. Take your camera, sunglasses and sunscreen.  There is a toilet at the top of the lifts and also 30 minutes into the hike. Kids as young as 4 should be able to complete the hike up and down. There are always many elderly hikers in their eighties so as long as you are sure footed you should be able to get up and back. Take all your rubbish home.

Photographer – Tony Anderson Copyright.  tony@whitehorse-hakuba.com




18 Responses to “Hiking in Japan

  1. Hi,

    May I know if a hike up to Happo Pond is possible in late Mar 2017? Will the path be too slippery or closed?

    Thank you.

  2. It will be covered in snow and the pond will be ice but the hiking is amazing and the views are spectacular. Take extra precautions for the cold. I can certainly recommend the hike especially on a clear day.

  3. Usually a great time for hiking in Hakuba but try and keep your dates a little flexible to ensure perfect conditions. Japan has a couple of rainy seasons but the dates can vary a little.

  4. Hi Josh,

    It takes about 80 to 90 minutes to walk from the top of the last chairlift to Happo Ike. The return trip is about 60 minutes.


  5. Hi,

    How do you get there from Hakuba Station? I was looking for the bus schedule, but could not seem to find it

  6. Hi Varnia. If you are staying in Hakuba then your accommodation should be able to assist. Otherwise it is a short taxi ride from the station. About 1200 yen. Just say Happo Gondola and they’ll take you to the start.

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  9. As I know in May , the pond will be ice , How about June , July or Which month should I visit Happo Pond ? if I want to see the alps with snow reflect on the pond.

  10. Hi Plasom. July is a good time to visit the pond. If you can be a little flexible then try and visit on a clear day for the beautiful reflections. Another great hiking area in the valley is at the top of Tsugaike.

  11. Hi Plasom. July is a good time to visit the pond. If you can be a little flexible then try and visit on a clear day for the beautiful reflections. Another great hiking area in the valley is at the top of Tsugaike.

  12. Hi ..
    May i know late August -early September
    what I can see the view of Happo Ike?
    Rain or mist or Flower…

  13. Hi Ink.
    That time of year is usually the best for clear weather. It is a great time to come and hike our mountains and swim in our pristine rivers and lakes. I hope you can make it out here.

  14. Hi We loved hiking to Happo Ike and Tsugaike.
    Any other beginner day hikes would you recommend in Hakuba?

  15. Karamatsu is about 3 hours from the top of the Happo lifts beyond the pond and is amazing too. You can stay in a lodge at the top as well. There is a basic restaurant up there so no need to take food and just a bottle of water for the hike. This is a fantastic experience. Another good walk is to the Daisekei Ice field. Drive up past Obinata onsen to the end of the road, You can hire clampons/ spikes up there if you want to walk on the ice, Another one is the Hakuba lake which is above Tsugaike. You can stay in the lodge there too. That’s about 3 hours from memory. The big one to do is Shirouma which is about a 6 hour hike from the top of Tsuagike or probably 5 from the icefield. That has a huge lodge to stay in. The sunsets there and Karamatsu are spectacular.

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