Ski Resorts in Hakuba, Japan
From carving on groomed pistes to bouncing through the Japow in the backcountry, the vast variety of terrain here makes Hakuba Valley a ski mecca for the main island of Japan.
- Wide variety of terrain with tons of Japow across 10 resorts
- Lots of north-facing slopes and north-facing mountains for backcountry
- Authentic Japanese culture compared to westernized resorts such as Niseko
- Ski resorts are quite spread out, need shuttle bus to reach other resorts (only a few offer skiable mountain connections)
- Smaller resorts lack some amenities
- Receives less snowfall than ski resorts in the northern island of Hokkaido
- Fly into Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport. Chances are you’ll fly into Narita as it services more international flights. Both airports very rarely suffer from delays or cancellations due to snowfall.
- Best way to resorts from both airports is by bus. The journey takes 5-6 hours to Hakuba, and for the final leg of your trip, smaller minivans will make drop offs at your lodging. While this option is convenient and economical, you can save time by taking the bullet train to Nagano station (2.5 hours) followed by a bus (1.5 hours) to Hakuba. Once you’re there you can make your way to your lodging. Top tip: Explore the vibrant city of Tokyo before or after your ski vacation.
- When to go: The best chance of scoring maximum powder days is January and February. Late March onwards, you risk slushy conditions as the temperatures warm up. Avoid, Christmas, New Year holidays and Chinese New Year. For the best lodging discounts, visit first weeks of December or anytime after February.
We’ve teamed up with the locals to pick out the best three resorts in Hakuba, but there is much more to explore.
Generally speaking, the ten ski resorts in Hakuba Valley are stretched out in a line from south to north, along the base of different peaks within the mountain range. If you started at the southernmost ski resort in Hakuba Valley and drove up to the northernmost, you'd pass each resort in the following order… Jiigatake, Kashimayari, Sanosaka, Hakuba 47, Goryu, Happo One, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Norikura, and finally, Cortina! The main village of Hakuba is pretty much in the middle of this line, and each ski resort offers something uniquely different from one another. When you put all their individual characteristics together, the valley provides incredibly diverse skiing and snowboarding terrain.There’s one lift pass to rule them all, the mighty Hakuba Valley Ticket! This empowers skiers and snowboarders with all-encompassing access to the ten ski resorts in the region. Each of the ski resorts in Hakuba Valley also have their own lift pass, so it’s an option to arrive at a new base area each day and buy a single day ticket for that mountain. It’s also worth noting that Hakuba can also be skied on the Epic Pass pass.
If it’s your first time skiing in Hakuba Valley, then these are the resorts you don’t want to miss out on. As the two largest resorts here, they tend to be more popular not only because of their great terrain and powder but also because of their convenient central location to the main tourist hub of Hakuba Village and Happo Village. This also means that these resorts can get quite crowded.
A little further away from Hakuba Village, these resorts don’t receive as much attention as some of the other big names in Hakuba Valley, but they are getting increasingly popular. Each has something different to offer although it’s safe to say the powder is consistently great throughout all.
|Best for Beginners||Tsugaike|
|Best for Intermediates||Iwatake, Cortina|
|Best for Advanced and Experts||Happo One, Hakuba 47 & Goryu|
|Best for All-rounder||Happo One|
|Highest Summit Elevation||Happo One|
|Highest number of runs||Iwatake|
|Largest ski area||Happo One|
|Highest number of lists||Happo One|