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Published April 25th 2020
Indulge in a private chalet in the Japanese Alps
The Japanese ski fields are renowned for their gorgeous scenery, deep powder and affordable lift tickets making them a popular choice for tourists wanting to experience an alpine holiday in the northern hemisphere.
One of Japan's largest alpine resorts is the Hakuba Valley, located in the Nagano area on the island of Honshū. In fact during the 1998 Winter Olympics Hakuba hosted numerous events including the Cross Country, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined Downhill and Super G alpine skiing events.
Fancy a Japanese alpine experience? Hakuba is a great choice
The Hakuba Valley has a range of accommodation options, from hotels to apartments, chalets and backpacker accommodation. On a recent family holiday, we chose to indulge in a little luxury by hiring a private chalet overlooking Happo One Resort. We could not have been happier or more impressed.
Fuku Chalet perches on the top of a hill, surrounded by the Wadano woods, in an ideal location to enjoy magnificent views of the Happo One Resort snowfields. On arrival, the timber chalet may look small from the outside, yet it is surprisingly spacious within. Natural Japanese timbers are used throughout and the open-plan design feels both spacious and cosy.
Fuku Chalet during the winter months (Image Credit: Japan Ski Experience)
The living area is open plan and occupies the ground floor. Here you can enjoy a fully equipped kitchen and large dining area. The lounge area includes a small sofa in addition to a sitting area which looks out on to a deck. For me, this was the prime location to sit and relax with a hot or cold drink after a day on the slopes as it takes full advantage of the large windows and mountain views.
The chalet sleeps five people comfortably within its two large bedrooms upstairs. The master bedroom includes a double bed and the second bedroom includes three singles. Alternatively for those more inclined to sleep the traditional Japanese way, there is also a dedicated space fitted with tatami mats.
On the second floor, you will also find laundry facilities and a large bathroom, featuring double basins, separate toilet, shower and a bath with more magnificent views of the mountains. After a day of skiing and boarding, it was pure bliss to soak in the tub and enjoy the gorgeous views of the mountains.
The bath tub is another prime location for soaking up the mountain views (Image Credit: Japan Ski Experience)
But the big drawcard of this chalet is the views and the proximity to the Happo One resort. It is only a seven-minute walk from the chalet to Happo One Resort and Gondola, however, there is one, quite significant, catch – this walk takes you via a very steep hill. This can be an issue especially when you are burdened with carrying skis, snowboards, boots and other skiing paraphernalia. While we did manage to navigate the hill, usually multiple times per day, it does get very tiring.
However, if the hill is too daunting for you, there is an alternative route which comprises a short, level walk to a bus stop where you can catch a free shuttle bus to the ski fields. This will take a lot longer but with much less physical exertion.
Fuku Chalet was perfectly located for our family ski holiday. We loved the privacy of having the chalet all to ourselves and the ability to eat in if we wanted to. We also enjoyed being able to walk to most places – down the hill and across to the Gondola, into Happo to hire our ski gear and to the village bars and restaurants. We also walked to the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium one afternoon, which was around 2.5km away.
The Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium from the 1998 Winter Olympics
The only place we couldn't get to easily on foot was to a large supermarket for groceries however, our host, Shoko, was kind enough to drive us to the supermarket. We also found the free shuttle buses convenient when exploring the area.
If you visit during the warmer months the chalet may look like this (Image Credit: Japan Ski Experience)