How to Get to Hakuba

How To Get To Hakuba – Comprehensive Guide For Winter Travelers

How to Get to Hakuba: Your Ultimate Transportation Guide

Hakuba is a winter paradise in the heart of Japan.

Hakuba Lift Tickets - Happo One North Face Back Country - HSC & Northen Heights Guiding

From the moment you set foot in Hakuba, you’re greeted by towering snow-capped mountains, serene forests, and inviting Japanese hospitality. Over the past seven years of living here, I have helped countless guests find their way to Hakuba. Navigating trains, shuttles, and taxis in Japan can be challenging – from the language barrier to lack of information.

Events Hakuba How To Get To Hakuba - Comprehensive Guide For Winter Travelers 1

In this comprehensive guide, I will unravel the mysteries of how to get to Hakuba. 

Get the inside scoop on the best routes, transportation options, and insightful tips. Whether traveling from Tokyo, Narita, or Haneda from Osaka or between ski resorts like Nozawa, Myoko, and Niseko, I have you covered.

How To Get To Hakuba

Tokyo to Hakuba (1)

1 – Tokyo to Hakuba

Getting from Toyko to Hakuba is relatively straightforward with shuttles, trains, or highway buses. The trip takes 2 to 5 hours, depending on which option you choose.

Airport Shuttle Buses

There are two airport shuttle providers – Nagano Snow Shuttle and Alpico Bus Lines. Both offer direct shuttles from Tokyo Narita Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport to Hakuba. The trips take approximately 5 hours.

Alpico drops you off at the Hakuba Happo bus terminal, while the Nagano Snow Shuttle offers drop-offs at your hotel.

The Nagano Snow Shuttle also offers English service and connections to other ski resorts in Nagano.

Bullet Train from Tokyo

One of the quickest ways to get to Hakuba from Tokyo is by taking the bullet train (also known as Shinkansen). Unfortunately, there is no direct bullet train to Hakuba. The best route is to catch the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line from Tokyo train station to Nagano. From Nagano station, you take a highway bus to Hakuba.

Highway Bus From Tokyo

Highway buses are a great way to get from central Tokyo to Hakuba. The Shinjuku Expressway bus terminal has a variety of bus companies that provide services to Hakuba throughout the day. Depending on traffic, the trip can take up to 5 hours.

Local Train

For the more adventurous and frugal traveler, there is an option to take local trains from Tokyo to Hakuba.

The Azusa Limited Express is the only direct train to Hakuba. It departs Shinjuku station at 8:00 AM and arrives at Hakuba station at 11:42 AM.

There are other local train options, but they require multiple transfers.

Chartered or Shared Taxi

Travelers can take a taxi from Tokyo to Hakuba. This is the most expensive option but is flexible and convenient.

Chuo Taxi operates a shared taxi with pick-ups from Tokyo airports and central Tokyo. You can also charter the taxi for a private shuttle. The taxi also takes your bags, adding to the convenience.

2 – Osaka to Hakuba

Getting to Hakuba from Osaka is a little more complicated and will require several transfers. Travel will take 5 – 6 hours.

Bullet Train from Osaka

Getting to the Hakuba Valley from Osaka by train requires three transfers. The journey starts from Shin Osaka Station, where you catch the Shinkansen bullet train to Nagoya. Once in Nagoya, you transfer to a limited express train to Matsumoto Station. Finally, at Matsumoto Station, take the Oito Line towards Hakuba Station.

Overnight Direct Bus From Osaka

Alpico Bus Lines operates a direct highway bus from Osaka to Hakuba’s ski resorts. The night bus departs from Osaka Umeda and Shin Osaka stations and travels directly to the Hakuba ski resorts.

Bus From Osaka

If overnighting on the bus isn’t your thing, you can take the local highway bus from Osaka to Nagano. From there, transfer to a bus that will take you from Nagano to Hakuba Station. This option takes 6.5 hours and has day and night buses.

3 – Connecting from Other Ski Resorts to Hakuba

Whether traveling from one of Ngano’s many popular ski resorts or coming to Hakuba from Hokkaido, there are convenient travel choices for everyone.

Niseko to Hakuba

If you’re coming from one of Hokkaido’s popular ski resorts to Hakuba, flying is the easiest option. Matsumoto is the closest domestic airport to Hakuba, with direct flights from New Chitose Airport in Sapporo. You can take a train, taxi, or bus from Matsumoto to Hakuba.

Pro Tips:

  1. Ship your bags in instead of paying airline baggage fees
  2. Book your flights a month in advance for discounts

Shiga Kogen to Hakuba

Nagano Snow Shuttle provides direct transfers between popular ski resorts in Nagano prefecture. The Shiga Kogen to Hakuba bus costs ¥5500 and takes about 3 hours.

Nozawa to Hakuba

The Nagano Snow Shuttle from Nozawa to Hakuba costs ¥5500 and takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Myoko to Hakuba

The Nagano Snow Shuttle from Myoko to Hakuba costs ¥5500 and takes 2 hours.

Other Transportation Options

Renting a Car in Japan

Renting a car in Japan is not for the faint of heart. Driving on the left side of the road, navigating through unfamiliar roads, and dealing with tolls can be stressful for some.

If you choose to rent a car, familiarize yourself with Japanese traffic laws and have an international driving permit.

License Requirements

Foreign drivers must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a valid driver’s license from their home country to drive a car in Japan. To get an international driving permit, contact your local automobile association.

Driving in Japan

Driving rules and regulations in Japan are similar to other countries, but there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Traffic moves on the left side of the road.
  • Speed limits vary depending on the area and type of road. Be sure to pay attention to speed limit signs.
  • Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal.
  • Most signage is in both English and Japanese

Japan Car Rental Companies

  • Nissan Rent a Car
  • Times Car Rental
  • Nippon Rent-A-Car
  • Toyota Rent-A-Car
  • Orix Rent-A-Car

Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass is a cost-effective option for those planning to travel extensively by train in Japan. This pass allows unlimited travel on most JR trains, including the Shinkansen (bullet trains) and local lines. It is available in 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day options.

To use the Japan Rail Pass, you must be a foreign tourist entering Japan with a “Temporary Visitor” visa.

Value and Usage

Transportation within Hakuba Village is by local shuttle or taxi. You will not need the train to travel to the ski resort. If you plan on using your Japan rail Pass to come to Hakuba, schedule your travel accordingly.

How to Book a Japan Rail Pass

Booking a Japan rail pass is relatively simple, with many online travel agencies offering the service. You will need to provide your passport information and travel dates when booking.

Nagano Snow Shuttle

The Nagano Snow Shuttle is a convenient and affordable way to Hakuba Village and other Nagano Ski resorts. The bus offers services to and from major airports, such as Narita and Haneda, and between resorts.

Booking Train Tickets

It is possible to book train tickets in advance. The JR booking portal allows you to reserve seats up to one month in advance. I recommend booking in advance if traveling during peak seasons, such as Golden Week or the New Year holiday.

Additional Travel Tips

Hakuba Local Shuttles

Hakuba has an extensive network of different shuttle buses available to help get you to your preferred resort. Shullte routes and schedules will be released in early December.

Hakuba Resorts

Hakuba has ten different ski resorts, each with unique characteristics and features. Use our resort selector tool to find the top 3 resorts for your group.


Navigating the many options to get to Hakuba can be a challenge. From the many routes, starting points, and most information being in Japanese, it can be hard to know where to start. However, with some planning and research, you can easily book transportation and maximize your time in Hakuba. Whether taking advantage of the Japan Rail Pass, booking tickets in advance, or utilizing local shuttles, there are options to suit every traveler’s needs.


What airport do you fly into for Hakuba?

If you fly internationally, you will fly into Tokyo and from Toyko to Hakuba using a shuttle bus, train, or other transportation. Tokyo has two international airports:

  • Narita Airport
  • Haneda Airport

If you are flying within Japan, from somewhere like Sapporo, you can fly domestically to Matsumoto airport. You would take a train or bus from Matsumoto to Hakuba.

  • Matsumoto Airport

Is there a snow shuttle from Tokyo to Hakuba?

Yes, there are two airport shuttle providers from Tokyo to Hakuba. They are:

How long is the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hakuba?

The Shinkansen or bullet train does not go to Hakuba. The closest stop is Nagano station. From Nagano, you can take a bus to Hakuba. The Shinkansen takes roughly 90 minutes from Tokyo to Nagano, and the bus is an additional hour.

Which is better Hakuba or Niseko?

Hakuba and Niseko are both world-class snow destinations. I am biased, but I prefer Hakuba. There is more ski terrain, the village retains much of its Japanese charm, and it has more bluebird days. However, deciding which is better, Hakuba or Niseko, is up to you. Life shouldn’t be either/or you should try both.

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