Hakuba is about much more than what’s going on up on the slopes, and the wider Hakuba area has attracted a number of cafe culture entrepreneurs, setting up shop to serve the seasonal trade and permanent residents. The cafes range from Echoland’s resort town classics, heavy on the international vibe, to more restrained spots offering serious cups of java or Nagano cuisine. Whether you’re prepping to go up the mountain or just coming down, make some time to relax in one of Hakuba’s cafes. There are plenty of options, but here are five of the best!
San San Maru Ichi Hakuba
San San Maru Ichi occupies a spot down at the edge of the Happo-One (八方尾根) Snow Resort, and has become popular for their hearty galettes (like Nagano’s soba, made with buckwheat flour) and Colombian beans—and Colombian owner, as well—so there are the occasional offerings of Colombian snacks and specialties. Even if you don’t venture inside, there are coffee and snacks available at the stall out front, popular with guests that need a hit of caffeine and something sweet or savory before catching a shuttle up to the lifts.
Bear’s Cafe in the Echoland area of Hakuba is the ideal resort town cafe: cozy, with freshly-baked muffins and other baked goods, strong coffee and rich cocoa, and plenty of opportunities to mingle with the international crowd in the village.
If you’re taking a day off skiing or come down the mountain early, stop by and see if you recognize anyone from the lifts.
And if you do miss out on the chance to visit earlier in the day, try the Goldilocks Lounge, a just-right destination for après-ski drinks.
Sounds Like Café
Sounds Like Cafe is another Echoland favorite. Stop by early for a shot of espresso, or better yet, find time for lunch or an early dinner.
One of the thick beef burgers is a great choice, especially if you’ve burned the calories coming down the mountain; close out a meal with one of their indulgent desserts, like the dense cheesecake with cream cheese frosting, or maybe the creme brulee.
Just down the block from the Globe Bar, Penguin Cafe is another Echoland cafe with an international vibe. The facade and interior are more sleek, giving away its more upscale character that suggests a digital nomad haunt more than it does a resort town hangout.
Order a tea, open your Macbook and catch up with work emails if you need to, or take it easy, get the burger and look out at the fresh snow falling on Hakuba’s streets.
Iimori Station is the closest landmark to this rural cafe that serves up the best soba in the prefecture.
A nice break from the resort town, Noh sources ingredients from the bounty of the Nagano countryside. It’s a bit less convenient than the central Echoland locations, but perhaps a nice respite from the resort town atmosphere, and a chance to get a mouthful of Nagano.
Apart from the home-style cooking, Noh also does a sideline in locally-grown produce, as well as Nagano souvenirs.