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
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.
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.
is superb for beginners and ideal for intermediates, and is also known for access to the relatively mellow backcountry and the spring heli skiing.
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 recently 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
* 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
There are a few variations on lift pass combinations that might save you a few dollars, if you absolutely know you’ll ski or snowboard every day. One advantage of multi-resort tickets is that you’re not left wondering if all ski resorts will accept your credit card or not. Nevertheless our recommendation would be just to buy them as you go, because you don’t quite know what the weather will do and there are so many other activities you might want to partake in. Ticket prices for individual resorts vary a little, with Happo-One being the most expensive and Cortina being an example of a cheap resort. The big resorts have electronic chips for tickets that require a small refundable deposit, whilst places such as Cortina have the old fashioned paper tickets.
Many of the Hakuba hotels sell discounted lift tickets.
The Hakuba All-Mountain lift pass offers access to Happo-One, Hakuba 47, Goryu, Iwatake, Tsugaike, Cortina, Norikura, Minetaka and Sanosaka. Pass coupons have to be exchanged daily at each of the resorts, and you can even ride multiple resorts in the one day.
The Hakuba Alpen 3 pass covers Happo One, Iwatake and Tsugaike for non-consecutive days and offers small discounts versus paying as you go.