Ski Hakuba for a large range of terrain
Hakuba provides fabulous views across the alps
Happo One can get some big moguls
The Happo One
The prohibition on off-piste skiing at Happo has relaxed a fraction
Happo One is the most popular of the Hakuba ski resorts
The Hakuba snow is generally very good quality
Iwatake Ski Resorts offers great views back to Happo
Terrain park at Iwatake
More views at Iwatake
Cortina has some well pitched groomed runs
Cortina is best known for the off-piste skiing
The Cortina tree skiing is superb
Goryu has some great steep piste
The Goryu gondola
Hakuba 47 offers spectacular views too
Tsugaike Kogen has a massive beginner area
Tsugaike has a long gondola
Norikura has wide long mellow groomed runs
The runs down to the Norikura village

Lifts & Terrain

Ski Hakuba Japan

The skiing at each of the Hakuba resorts offers something unique, and getting a taste of multiple areas is one of the attractions of Hakuba Japan.

The Happo One ski resort is the most popular of the resorts and for many visitors to Hakuba it’s considered the Hakuba ski resort. It’s fairly large, has a lot of vertical, and is reasonably steep. Happo One is best known for the many long groomed intermediate slopes, the bumps, and the access to the renowned alpine backcountry.

Possibly the next popular is the combined Hakuba 47 and Goryu ski resorts. Hakuba 47 has terrain suitable for advanced riders with steep long fast runs and an excellent terrain park and half-pipe. The terrain at Goryu is mainly beginner and intermediate, with long wide trails and gentle slopes.

Iwatake features wide open runs and is well suited to intermediates and confident beginners, and is also popular for the terrain park. It’s also best known for the 360 degree views that are a fraction more spectacular than at the other Hakuba ski resorts.

Tsugaike is superb for beginners and ideal for intermediates, and is also known for access to the relatively mellow backcountry and the spring heli skiing.

Cortina is generally the favourite of powder hounds and provides steep tree skiing fun and lift-accessed sidecountry. Sometimes it’s a bit like a zoo on a powder day though!

Interconnected with Cortina is Norikura which has lots of beginner and intermediate runs that are often devoid of traffic.

Sun Alpina consists of 3 interconnected resorts (Sanosaka, Aokiko, and Kashimayari), although Aokiko has been closed since 2009 which has affected the interconnection of the resorts. Kashimayari is renowned for the night skiing, whilst Sanosaka is a bit of an all-rounder.

Minekata is just a wee little resort that has mostly intermediate terrain.

Ski Hakuba – the Best Resorts

Can’t decide where to go skiing in Hakuba? Here are our picks for the best of the main ski resorts in Hakuba.

Best Resort for Powderhounds: Hakuba Cortina
Best Overall Resort: Cortina

Hakuba Skiing and Snowboarding

Hakuba Snow

* Best ski resort in Hakuba for first-timers and beginners: Tsugaike has the best beginner terrain, but this ski resort doesn't cater particularly well to English speaking visitors. Happo One is the best ski resort for beginners who don't speak Japanese even though there is only a little bit of novice terrain.

See our Japan ski resorts ratings to see how the main Hakuba ski resorts compare on various factors including the terrain, powder, après and family-friendliness.

Hakuba Snow Conditions

Hakuba is renowned for great powder with an average of 11 metres of snowfall annually. The quality of the powder is generally very good, although it’s not as light as the famous Hokkaido powder. The Hakuba powder can be very deep so bring your fat skis (or rent some), set your board back, and consider packing a snorkel because some of the storms are big!

As to be expected, the snow quality varies a little across the resorts depending on the aspect and elevation but as a general rule, Cortina, Happo-One and Hakuba 47 have the best powder. The base areas of all the resorts are similar and reasonably low, so sometimes the temps rise and turn the lower slopes into a sloppy mess.

The Hakuba season typically starts in early December and goes through to May at some of the resorts.

Hakuba Lift Tickets

If you buy lift tickets as part of a ski package that includes accommodation, the lift passes are not discounted at all.

One option is to buy lift tickets each day at each resort. Ticket prices for individual resorts vary a little, with Happo-One being the most expensive and Cortina being an example of a cheap resort. Many of the hotels sell discounted lift passes for some of the resorts, which is also an incentive to buy lift passes as you go.  

Another option is to by a multi-day Hakuba Valley lift pass which can be pre-purchased on their website and delivered to your accommodation. The Hakuba Valley lift pass is valid at most of the major ski resorts in the area, and it has the advantage of not needing to be used on consecutive days. For example there is a 5 out of 9 day pass and a 6 out of 10 pass. Other advantages are that you can ride at multiple resorts on the same day (e.g. if the Tsugaike gondola goes on wind hold and you want to move to another ski area) and you don’t have to queue up each day to buy a lift ticket (except at Jigatake and Kashimayari you can to exchange pass at the ticket window). The pass can’t be used for night skiing. Cost-wise it’s often cheaper to buy lift tickets at the ski area as you go (and even cheaper when you use the discount passes from your hotel/pension), but most people are willing to pay a little extra for the Hakuba Valley Mountain Pass the convenience.

Hakuba Ski Resort Statistics Comparison


  Elev
(m)
Vert 
(m) 
Runs  Lifts   %
Beg
%
Int
 %
Adv
Max
Pitch
Open Close 
Cortina 1,402 530 16 40 30 30 42 mid Dec early Apr
Goryu 1676 926 16 13 35 40 25 35 late Nov early May 
Hakuba 47 1614 794 8 6 30 40 30 32 late Nov early May
Happo One 1831 1071 13 23 30 50 20 35 late Nov early May
Iwatake 1289 539 26 13 30 50  20 35 mid Dec early Apr
Jigatake 1200 260 7 4 70 30 0 28  late Nov early May
Kashimayari 1550 720 22 8 40 45 15 38 mid Dec early Apr
Minekata 1020 181 6 2 ? ? ? 35 ? ?
Norikura 1300 600 14 9 30 50 20 38 mid Dec early Apr
Sanosaka 1200 460 5 3 40 40 20 32 mid Dec late Mar
Tsugaike 1704 904  11 21 50 30 20 35 late Nov early May

The opening and closing times are approximate only and will vary from season to season depending on snow conditions.

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