The history of Hakuba goes back at least 6,000 yrs ago but skiing is a very recent event.
During these early days a type of serpentine stone found in Hakuba was was dug out of the mountains and utilised in the making of stone axes. In the Yayoi era (300 BC to AD 300) , people started settling in what is now the south side of Hakubavillage and began growing rice. Then in the Kofun era (AD 300-700) leaders of the village starting building big tombs for themselves for when they passed away. Approximately 800 yrs ago Hakubaand the Otari area became Emperor Shirakawa's territory and was called Chikuninoshou. There is a museum name the Chikuninoshou museum in Otari still today. The Shirakawa Emporer got a manor built for his princess daugher, and after she passed away the manor became a temple. During all this time the Shionomichi (salt road) was used to transport salt from sea of Japan to Matsumoto for processing, and this road passed through Hakuba since ancient times. If you want to find it, it is the first road runs parallel to the train line that you encounter if you walk uphill from Max value supermarket. After 1590, a land survey was done by Lord Matsumoto, and taxes were imposed upon landholders. This was apparently a very tough time for the pheasants in Hakuba. During this era, the population of Hakuba increased and more land was devoted to rice paddies.In 1894, Mt Hakuba was officially named and in 1895 a mountaineer/church missionary named Walter Weston climbed it. He played a big part in the establishment of the Japan Alpine Club in 190. In 1899 a Japanese scientist by the name of Reizo Kono performed a fauna and flora survey in the mountains of Hakuba and found it was full of rare plants. As a result Hakubabecame nationally well known and it became prohibited to collect plants from the mountains in 1910. Until 1919 the only access to Hakuba was by horsedrawn carriage or rickshaw, and there was no electicity, all lights were gas lamps. From 1919 electricity came to Hakuba along with the first motor vehicles. In 1932 the trainline to Hakuba was built. Even at that time people's main income source was agriculture such as rice, silkworms and hemp. Hakuba was officially designated a village in the 1930's.At the end of Meiji era (the beginning of 1900's), skiing was introduced to japan and Hakuba was recognized as a place for skiing by mountaineers, and uni students. At this time the locals in Happo acted as mountain guides. From 1947, Miinshikuku (like a type of b&b) started appearing in Hakuba. After the 2nd world war skiing become very popular in Japan and ski lifts were built as early as 1952 in Happo, with most of Happo resort being built in 1958.The 1980’s brought the bubble era to Japan, and skiing was probably the most popular sport in Japan at this time. To accommodate its popularity many new ski lodges and hotels were built, and even today most of the ski accomodation in Hakuba can be traced back to this decade. In 1998 the Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, with many of the events such as the downhill and ski jump being held in HakubaSince then Hakuba has been "discovered" by foreigners and their numbers are increasing every year. The current permanent population of Hakuba is about 9,000 people, but many more come to work here in the ski season.
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