Hakuba

Located only 4 hours from Tokyo, the Hakuba Valley consists of 11 ski resorts that offer a wide variety of terrain.  Whilst most of the Hakuba ski resorts are not interconnected via the slopes, they are accessible by shuttle, and the common lift ticket covering all resorts gives you the choice as to how you spend your day on the slopes. Hakuba Cortina, one of Hakuba’s most well known ski fields is part of Hakuba’s neighbouring Otari, a unique ski area in terms of the quantity of snow it receives given its location, the steepness of the terrain and more progressive off-piste policy.

Overall, this is an easily accessible ski region, with several resorts on offer, facilities to cater for the English speaking and offers great ski school facilities with an international ski school. Great for beginners and intermediates, Hakuba offers many long groomers and wide runs. Advanced skiers and snowboarders won’t get bored of the steep groomers and mogul runs, and freestyle skiers/snowboarders won’t get bored with the several parks on offer.

Check out the tabs below for more info on each of the major resorts which make up the Hakuba Valley.

 

“Happo 1 in Hakuba hosted many of the 1998 Winter Olympic events including slalom and ski jumping – a good indication that the resort has plenty of vertical. Best pow? Check out Cortina.”

Happo One is the biggest resort in Hakuba, with over 26 lifts and 1000m of vertical, there is truly something for everyone. Backcountry can be accessible from the tip of the mountain, and off-piste skiing is quite accessible.

 

HAPPO ONE RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1831m
Terrain: Beginner 30% / Intermediate 50% / Advanced 20%
Lift system:
Vertical: 1071m
Longest run: 8km
Average Snowfall: 10m
Terrain Parks: 

Tsugaike is a large resort, often less crowded than other resorts in the region, especially good for beginners and intermediates. Up top, there are steeper runs suiting intermediates, but lacks the mogul runs and steeps of some of the other resorts.

 

TSUGAIKE RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1704m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 26 lifts
Vertical: 904m
Longest run: 5km
Average Snowfall: 11m
Terrain Parks: Yes

The combined Hakuba 47, Goryu Toomi and Limori is a diverse mountain with something to offer everyone. The lower runs are wide with a consistent slope, perfect for those starting out. The upper part of the mountain, including Hakuba 47 provides more steep runs for the more advanced.

 

GORYU RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1675m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 13 lifts
Vertical: 925m
Longest run: 5km
Average Snowfall: 11m
Terrain Parks: 

The Goryu and Hakuba 47 combined resorts offer something for everyone. Hakuba 47 lso boasts the best terrain park and only superpipe in the area. The park is well maintained and has a variety of kickers and rails for all levels of ability.

 

HAKUBA 47 RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 167
Terrain: –
Lift system: 6
Vertical: 800m
Longest run: 6.4km
Average Snowfall: 11m
Terrain Parks: Yes

Iwatake is suited for the beginner, family and intermediate skiers and boarders. With plenty of wide open terrain it is perfect for those just starting out.

 

IWATAKE RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1289m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 16
Vertical: 539m
Longest run: –
Average Snowfall: 11m
Terrain Parks: Yes

Sanosaka is a great family resort with great views of the lakes district of Hakuba. Most runs are fairly short and suit intermediates, however for those freestyle junkies there is a 4 way kicker at the base of the mogul

 

SANOSAKA RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1200m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 5
Vertical: 460m
Longest run: 3.5km
Average Snowfall: 10m
Terrain Parks: Yes

Minekata is a small ski resort, famous for its cross country course at the top. Why not rent cross country skis and snowshoes for 1,000 yen for half a day and make the most of it?

 

MINEKATA RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1050m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 2
Vertical: 210m
Longest run: –
Average Snowfall:
Terrain Parks: No

Located at the northern end of the valley, Cortina is Hakuba’s best kept secret. It receives the highest amount of snowfall in the valley, boasts a huge open bowl with frequent snowfalls, deep pow and challenging tree lines and chutes. Perfect for the more experienced skiier/rider.

 

CORTINA RESORT STATS 

Season: Dec – Apr
Altitude: 1400m
Terrain: –
Lift system: 8
Vertical: 500m
Longest run: –
Average Snowfall: 12m
Terrain Parks: 

Got more than a week? If so we recommend visiting a few resorts to make the most of your time in Nagano-Niigata. Depending on the resort we would recommend anywhere from 3 nights to a week. Since there are so many resorts in the Hakuba Valley we suggest a week there and then a few nights at one of the below. Try Nozawa or Myoko for a very traditional stay after your time in more international Hakuba.

 

Resorts near Nozawa Onsen:

  • Nozawa Onsen
  • Madarao-Tangram
  • Myoko Kogen
  • Shiga Kogen

All resorts are about 2 1/4 ~ 2 1/2 hrs drive with Nagano Snow Shuttle Inter-Resort Transfer. See ‘GETTING THERE’ tab for more information on travel to/from Tokyo and Hakuba.

  • Use your Hakuba Valley lift pass and local bus network to visit multiple resorts outside of the main Happo One and Goryu/47. There’s plenty of terrain to keep you and your group busy for at least a week!
  • Onsen – visit your hotel onsen or if you’re not staying somewhere with an onsen as your concierge where the best local ones are, your weary legs will thank you! There are many public onsen as well as some that can be rented for small private groups.
  • Visit a different restaurant and or bar every night – if you’re into food and/or partying Hakuba is the place for you. There’s a huge range of restaurants from small Japanese izakayas through to western burger joints. For those that like to party there’s plenty of fun to be had until late.
  • For those of you into the music scene come in late February and stay for Snow Machine music festival. With an amazing selection of the some of the biggest local and international artists playing in some of the most incredible locations imaginable, from sweeping mountaintop vistas, to cosy apres soirees, from outdoor village stages, to indoor onsen. 
  • Take a day trip to Nagano City & the snow monkeys. There are a few local tour companies where you can book this day trip, if you’re looking for a rest day this is a perfect cultural experience.

Train & bus

  • You will need to take the bullet train to Nagano St, from there the local bus (Alpico Group) to Hakuba.
  • About 3hrs from Tokyo St – be careful to plan your route in advance so as to have the best connections possible.
  • Alternatively you can take the train directly from Tokyo Shinjuku to Hakuba – Azusa Limited Express (just under 4hrs, see here for timetables). This train only runs to/from Hakuba a few times a day so you’ll have to plan around the times.
  • Some accommodations pick up from the bus depo/train station, your consultant will let you know in advance. If not you will be able to get a taxi easily from both.

Nagano Snow Shuttle

  • Direct services from Haneda and Narita Airports to Hakuba and return daily.
  • On your return you can get off in Shinjuku (Tokyo Central) or return to either Airport.
  • Be sure to check with your consultant if the bus timetable lines up well with your flight.
  • About 6hrs.

Share Taxi Transfer

  • This is a great option for those whose flights don’t line up well with the Nagano Snow Shuttle. You are transferred in a mini-van with others going to the Nagano-Niigata resorts who have arrived on the same flight or at a similar time.
  • about 6hrs

Notes:

  • For the bus and share taxi transfer you may have to change vehicles at Nagano St.
  • Some departure times allow you to pay extra (¥1,000pp) to be dropped at your accommodation, we suggest this for those of you whose accommodation don’t provide pick up from the bus terminal.
  • See www.hyperdia.com for train timetables and best routes.

Whiteroom recommends: taking the bus or share taxi transfer if you have a lot of luggage or if this is your first time in Japan. Although the train and bus is quicker it can be hard to navigate with big ski/snowboard bags. On top of this it can be a little overwhelming if it’s your first time in Japan. If you’re up for an adventure the train and bus is a great option and the public transport staff in Japan are very kind and willing to help where needed. Your consultant will also make sure you have all the required journey information and timetables in advance.