The photo above shows just 5 of the many Hakuba Ski Resorts. These are within Hakuba itself, but in general Omachi and Otari’s ski fields (to the South, or left of the photo) are grouped together with the Hakuba Ski Resorts.
As you can see from this photo alone the ski fields are large and the backcountry terrain is enormous. Some of the resorts are a lot larger than others, but all have their good points. What follows is as unbiased as we could get.
Hakuba Ski Resorts – Something for Everyone
Whether you are there to ski the well-known and larger resorts, to explore the lesser-known and uncrowded areas, or intend to mix it up, there is plenty of choice.
Early and late season the larger resorts with snow making and higher altitudes (like Goryu & Happo) and North-facing runs (like Hakuba 47) will have better conditions. Once there is an established base throughout the valley, in general the further north you go the more snow – one of the factors in Cortina’s favour.
Resorts weather the conditions differently – it may be blowing a gale in Tsugaike with all the gondola and most lifts shut down while Iwatake is all go.
The resorts are laid out pretty much South to North: from Omachi, to Hakuba, to Otari.
Around a 30 minute drive from Hakuba, Kashimayari is one of the most Southern resorts in the valley. It gets its fair share of snow however, and a night powder session at Kashimayari isn’t something you’ll ever forget. Snownavi has a great English page with prices, runs, access information and more.
Around 5 minutes drive south of Goryu, Sanosaka is relatively small. There is a decent park, and a following of ripping locals who frequent the water jump the resort runs from June to November. From the top there is a peaceful view of Lake Aokiko and out over the valley’s rice fields.
Goryu is the first large resort in the valley itself, and features a large base center building, a fast gondola to the top, high speed lifts, well-groomed slopes, a small park, great learner areas, good steeps and moguls, and is connected with Hakuba 47 giving even greater value.
With fun cat-tracks, well-groomed and long steeps, consistent snow quality, some nice tree runs, a big park, great facilities including hill top beers, gondola izakaya and base pizza, 47 is it. Sharing a lift pass with Goryu, the entire resort becomes huge. A must to get to know.
Happo is the largest of the resorts in Hakuba, and attracts skiers from all over Japan as well as the world. It has the Olympic Ski Jumps at the skiers far right, enormously varied groomed terrain and fantastic powder runs. Enjoy the amazing views, eat and drink all over the mountain, shred for weeks.
Minekata has sadly closed, though how it ran for all those years with so few people was a mystery. We will miss hot chocolate and cake in the beautiful old cafe on the far skier’s right run, and cross country skiing or snowshoeing on what could arguably be the worlds most scenic course. We wanted our kids to learn to ski there. The view from the top is breathtaking.