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A Guide to Hakuba Ski Resorts

Venue of the 1998 Winter Olympics, powder snow haven and gateway to the Japan Alps—no wonder Hakuba is one of Japan’s most famous ski areas!

Goryu

  • Business hours for each resort can vary along with the opening dates according to weather conditions.
The Japan Alps (or Japanese Alps) are a collection of three mountain ranges that pass through six central prefectures. The highest peaks in these mountains reach over 3,000 meters high—nearly as tall as Mount Fuji. From about December to April, the Japan Alps are a winter sports paradise.

Accessible from Tokyo via bullet train, Hakuba Valley is one of Japan Alp’s most renowned ski areas. It was chosen as a venue for the 1998 Winter Olympics for good reason! The slopes and powder are of excellent quality, and nowadays services like multilingual staff, resources and lessons ensure the slopes are welcoming to both Japanese and international visitors.

For your skiing and snowboarding adventures, here’s a guide to ten resorts in Hakuba.

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1. Jigatake

Jigatake

Photo by: PIXTA/alps The best place to start.

Families and first-time skiers or snowboarders should check out Jigatake. Each of this resort’s seven courses is either beginning or intermediate, so you can explore the entire area without accidentally ending up at a black diamond. Jigatake also boasts a sledding and snowmobile park as well as night skiing on certain days.

  • Why go? Jigatake tends to be less crowded compared to other resorts because of its smaller size.
  • December - March
  • 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Night skiing from 5:30 p.m.)
  • Shinano Omachi station
  • Shuttle Bus (From Shinano Omachi)
  • https://jiigatake.com/

2. Kashimayari

Kashimayari

Photo by: PIXTA/ 小川邦久@KUNISAN.JP Ski to your heart’s content.

Interested in a Pokemon-themed snow tubing park? Head to Kashimayari’s Pokemon Snow Adventure, which in addition to tubing offers activities for kids and families such as a play area and a practice skiing and snowboarding slope. Outside of this park, Kashimayari maintains nine courses that largely cater to beginning and advanced skiers or snowboarders.

  • Why go? Like Jigatake, Kashimayari is off the beaten track. Kashimayari’s accommodations also include communal dormitories, which are some of the cheapest overnight stays in Hakuba.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Shinano Omachi station
  • Shuttle Bus (From Shinano Omachi)
  • https://www.kashimayari.net/snow/

3. Sanosaka

Sanosaka

Photo by: PIXTA/ ホーリー Beautiful views all around.

Though it only maintains two courses, Sanosaka is renowned as a place to enjoy Hakuba Valley’s natural wonders. Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy views of Lake Aoki—a nearly transparent lake—while heading down the slopes. Sanosaka also boasts that it is more protected from wind compared to other resorts.

  • Why go? Thanks to a shuttle bus and options like combination lift tickets, a visit to Sanosaka can be paired with trips to other nearby resorts.
  • December - March
  • 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle Bus (From Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal)
  • https://sanosaka.jp/

4. Goryu

Goryu

Photo by: PIXTA/alps Want to ski at night? Goryu is your best bet.

Boasting seventeen courses, Goryu is one of the larger Hakuba resorts and is divided into three areas—Toomi, Iimori and Alps-daira—which accommodate beginning, intermediate and advanced skiers or snowboarders. Goryu also claims the largest night skiing course in Hakuba and offers sunrise skiing (open from 7 a.m.) on certain dates from the end of December to the end of March.

  • Why go? Goryu is connected to Hakuba 47, so with a combination lift ticket visitors can access even more slopes and activities without having to ride a bus.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Night skiing from 6 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.)
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle Bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.hakubaescal.com/winter-en/

5. Hakuba 47

Hakuba47

Photo by: PIXTA/ホーリー Sign up for one of the ski classes!

Located next to Goryu, skiers and snowboarders can access Hakuba 47 via the connecting slopes at the highest points of each resort. Hakuba 47 offers eight courses that accommodate a variety of skill levels, and hosts multilingual ski and snowboarding lessons. Snowmobile rides and lessons are also offered as additional ways to enjoy the snow.

  • Why go? A combination lift ticket allows visitors to access both Hakuba 47 and Goryu at a reasonable price.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.hakuba47.co.jp/winter/en/

6. Happo One

Happo One

Photo by: PIXTA/くまちゃん Choose your own adventure.

This resort is the famous 1998 Winter Olympics venue. Happo One boasts sixteen courses, some of which are the longest and steepest in Hakuba Valley. Slopes range from Level 1 Beginner courses to Level 5 Expert courses, and visitors can explore these slopes alone or with the support of Happo One’s multilingual skiing and snowboarding school.

  • Why go? In addition to slopes, Happo One offers a variety of amenities such as a kid’s park and a nearby hot spring. Happo One is also home to an annual slalom competition with open registration.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.happo-one.jp/en/

7. Iwatake

Iwatake

Photo by: PIXTA/ホーリー Up, up and away.

Iwatake entices visitors with thirteen skiing and snowboarding courses among other activities. The resort accommodates snowshoers and cross-country skiers in addition to downhill skiers and snowboarders. Moreover, even if you don’t plan to do any snow sports, it is possible to take a gondola to the resort’s peak and simply enjoy winter. Hakuba Mountain Harbor offers spectacular views of the Japan Alps along with a bite to eat, and Iwatake White Park is a place where people of all ages—and their pets—can play in the snow.

  • Why go? Iwatake is one of the only pet-friendly areas in Hakuba Valley. The resort is also open outside of winter for summer and autumn activities.
  • December - March
  • 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://iwatake-mountain-resort.com/

8. Tsugaike

Tsugaike

Photo by: PIXTA/alps Ski down one of the 14 different courses.

While many resorts situate beginners’ courses on lower slopes, Tsugaike maintains gentle courses up its mountain alongside intermediate and advanced slopes—adding up to fourteen courses in total. Besides skiing and snowboarding, Tsugaike also maintains snowshoeing areas and offers a hot spring in the nearby town.

  • Why go? Surrounded by tall mountains, Tsugaike is known to be picturesque, especially when viewed from its gondola. It is also known as a resort that often gets heavy snow.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.tsugaike.gr.jp/

9. Norikura

Norikura

Photo by: PIXTA/Mochio Take a dip in the hot springs after a day on the slopes.

Norikura’s sixteen courses include slopes for beginning, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders as well as mogul courses for anyone who wants to practice competitive skiing skills. The resort also boats an on-site hotel that features a natural hot spring—perfect for relaxing after a day on the slopes.

  • Why go? Norikura is connected to the Cortina resort, and a combination lift ticket allows access to both areas.
  • December - March
  • 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.hakunori.com/en/

10. Cortina

Cortina

Photo by: PIXTA/ KiMSTA The deepest snow in the valley.

Cortina boasts some of the deepest snow in Hakuba Valley along with one of the largest hotels and sixteen slopes. Cortina’s beginner’s courses stretch up the mountain—providing a lengthy run—and so-called Ultimate Courses offer a thrilling challenge to advanced skiers and snowboarders. Cortina also features a kid’s park with a variety of activities such as snow rafting (riding in an inflatable raft that is dragged behind a snowmobile).

  • Why go? Cortina is connected to Norikura, and a combination ticket allows visitors to access both resorts at a reasonable rate.
  • December - March
  • 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Hakuba station
  • Shuttle bus (From Hakuba station)
  • https://www.hgp.co.jp/cortina/ski/