The ski village of Hakuba is located in Nagano prefecture, Japan, and lies next to the North Japan Alps. It is named after a shape that resembles a white horse which appears in the mountains in the springtime after snow-melt. (Hakuba means "white horse" in Japanese") It is 4-5 hours by train or bus from Tokyo and sits at an altitude of about 800 metres. It is rather spread out-there are many rice paddies which in winter become fields of white as they get buried by the snow. It's normal population of only about 9,000 swells out many fold due to the influx of skiers and seasonal workers.
Due to it's location next to the Northern Alps, and it's close proximity to the Sea of Japan, it sees a lot of snow. It averages over 11 metres of snow a year, most of it falling between the middle of December and the end of March. It was the site for 5 events during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics including the Ski Jump, and some downhill events including the Downhill, the Super G and Combined(all held at Happo Ski Resort). There are currently 12 ski resorts in Hakuba, with another one (Aokiko) closed and hopefully re-opening next season, and most of them are accessible by free shuttle buses. There is also a night time bus to help get you around in the Winter.
Echoland is a "suburb" of Hakuba, and is known as the downtown region of Hakuba due to it's concentration of bars and restaurants. It is located in between Happo and Hakuba 47, and is about a 15 minute walk to Happo itself. From the train station it is a fair walk to Echoland-at least half an hour if not a bit more. The main supermarket in Hakuba is called "Jusco", and it is about a 20 minute walk downhill from Echoland. Another supermarket (A-Coop) is just uphill from the station. The post office is located near the station. There are many hot springs or "Onsens" in Hakuba, and there is one in Echoland as well.
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