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 Hakuba skiing at each of the 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 Hakuba ski 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 in Hakuba Valley is the combined Hakuba 47 and Goryu ski resorts. Hakuba 47 has a little piste terrain for advanced riders with steep long fast runs, some tree skiing, 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 the tree skiing and access to the backcountry.

The Cortina and Norikura combination is generally the favourite of powder hounds and Cortina provides steep tree skiing fun and lift-accessed sidecountry. Sometimes Cortina is a bit like a zoo on a powder day though! Norikura 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. Both Kashimayari and Sanosaka are all-rounders and known (or unknown!) for the lack of crowds.

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

NB There are only 9 ski resorts covered by the Hakuba Valley marketing entity (Minekata and Sanosaka are not covered by the HV lift pass).

Ski Hakuba: The Best Resorts

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

Best Resorts for Powderhounds: Hakuba Cortina, Norikura, Tsugaike
Best Overall Resorts: Tsugaike, Cortina, Happo One

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 (yet). 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

Hakuba is renowned for great powder with an average of 11-13 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. See the Hakuba ski season page for more information.

Hakuba Lift Tickets

Firstly it’s worth knowing that if you buy lift tickets as part of a ski package that includes accommodation, the lift passes are not discounted.

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 Kashimayari being an example of a cheap resort. Many of the hotels sell discounted lift passes for some of the resorts (although you may have to pay cash – this is Japan after all!), which is a further incentive to buy lift passes as you go.

Another option is to buy a multi-day Hakuba Valley lift pass which can be pre-purchased on the Hakuba Valley website. The Hakuba Valley lift pass is valid at most of the major ski resorts, 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 that many of the Hakuba Valley shuttle buses are free (although most of the ski areas also provide other shuttles for free). The pass can’t be used for night skiing.

Cost-wise it’s 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) compared to the Hakuba Valley lift pass, even if you have to pay a small fee to use a HV bus, but many people like the HV pass because it’s an upfront cost that they then don’t have to think about.

The 9 Hakuba Valley ski resorts under the HV marketing umbrella are also accessible on the Epic Pass (and Epic Australia Pass) with 5 consecutive complimentary days with no blackout dates.

Hakuba Valley 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 12 30 50  20 35 mid Dec early Apr
Jigatake 1200 260 7 4 70 30 0 28  late Nov early May
Kashimayari 1550 720 16 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 20 50 30 20 35 late Nov early May

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

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