Situated in the dramatic northern Japanese Alps, 60km northwest of Nagano, HAKUBA (白馬) is one of Japan’s top ski destinations, featuring six resorts. The largest and most popular is HAPPŌ-ONE (八方尾根), site of the 1998 Nagano Olympics downhill course. The valley is perfect for skiers and snowboarders who prefer a variety of terrain and plenty of après ski fun.

With two very pretty lakes – Aoki and Kizaki – the Hakuba valley also makes a fine base for a whole range of outdoor pursuits in summer. The reliable Evergreen Outdoor Centre offers everything from rafting and mountain biking in summer to backcountry ski expeditions and avalanche-awareness courses in the winter.