Best Resorts in the Hakuba Valley
The Hakuba Valley Pass includes 10 resorts each with their own charm and perks. Here are my favourite things about each resort:
When visiting the ski resorts in the Hakuba Valley, you have a few options for purchasing lift passes.
Option 1 is to buy a Hakuba Valley Pass for multiple days which covers you for all resorts in the Hakuba Valley. This gives you a window to use the days. A two-day ticket is valid three days from the first day of use and anything over three days gives you an extra day to utilise the ticket. This is great if weather is bad or you need a rest day. The price starts at Y6101 for a one-day valley pass but works out cheaper per day the more consecutive days you do.
Option 2 is to buy day passes at each individual resort. Based on the pricing at the resorts last season, I believe buying day passes can work out a bit cheaper. This is very dependant on which resorts you visit. Happo is the most expensive day pass at Y5500 but some of the less popular resorts such as Jiigatake or Kashimiyari you can get a full day pass for less than Y4000.
Happo-One is the closest resort to the town of Hakuba with a lot of accommodation within walking distance of a chair lift. This is the most expensive resort in the valley but due to it’s the convenient location it is worth checking out.
Corona Bar – On a sunny day stopping at the Corona Bar for a beer is a must with exceptional views of the Hakuba Valley. A highlight of 2019 was a DJ set here by Australian Artist Hayden James.
Happo Banks – Happo does not have a park but the Happo Banks are super fun. They don’t get built until a little later in the season as it’s too hard to maintain in the snowiest months.
Terrain – As the largest resort in the Hakuba Valley, there is a lot of terrain to explore. Skyline is a very slow chair but has the best terrain and mountain views. Get here early on a pow day for some fresh turns.
Rhythm -Near Kokusai chair.
Hakuba’s biggest and best Rental, Retail, Coffee and Workshop.
This is your one-stop-shop for anything you need to have a great time on the mountain. The staff are knowledgable, the coffee is excellent and the range is unparalleled. If you’re renting, call them for a pickup from your hotel to the store!
Roots Cafe – You can find this vegan cafe at the bottom of the Kokusai chair. It gets very busy around lunch as it is part of the Evergreen Ski School but it’s awesome to have a vegan cafe on snow!
Ski School – The 2 biggest Ski Schools, Evergreen & Hakuba Snow Sports, are primarily based at Happo. Evergreen & Hakuba Snow Sports
Apres! – Japan isn’t known for it’s “Apre Skiing” aka drinking straight after skiing as is popular in Europe but 2019 saw some epic afternoon parties hosted by the Marillen Hotel.
PARK! Hakuba 47 has the best park in the Hakuba Valley with 2 dedicated chairs. Starting off with a half-pipe, followed by the jump line (Small, med or large) and then boxes and rails. It is a great place for progression as there are features for all abilities.
2 in 1! – Hakuba 47 is connected to Goryu so you can access both mountains. Make sure you buy a pass for both if you want to use all the lifts.
Epic views – The views at 47 are my absolute favourite. The long winding cat track gives magical mountain views.
Card refund – The lift pass issued from here and Goryu includes a deposit for the card itself so you need to return it for a refund when you finish your final day here.
Alps 360 – Best chippies in Hakuba.
It’s not always easy to find delicious fries in Japan but the Alps 360 restaurant comes through with the goods.
Corona Bar – Goryu also has a Corona Bar which is a great place for a beer on a sunny afternoon.
Escal Plaza – At the base of Goryu you will find the Escal Plaza. There are quite a few options in the food court as well as a Subway outlet.
Beginner area – Imori.
If you are just starting out, Imori is the perfect place to practise your turns on a gentle slope.
Lookout – There is an obelisk at top of the mountain which is nice to hike up for a photo.
Gondy laps! The gondola is very quick and the run down is super fun with loads of side hits. A nice sit down in between runs and a break from the elements isn’t bad either.
Kamoshika – local animal that lives under the gondola line. They are a Japanese Serow which is similar to a goat or antelope. Keep your eyes peeled at Iwatake and you might just see one although they are easy to mistake for a rock.
Iwatake has a great park! It’s the perfect place to spend spring days trying some new tricks. The Iwatake Style is an event held in late Feb where riders can spend the day throwing down tricks to impress the judges for prizes.
Iwatake is great on a pow day. It is probably not highest on the list when after a huge dump but as the crowds flock to Cortina you can get loads of untouched laps at Iwatake. The tree runs on the backside are very nice. Not too steep and nicely spaced if you are new to tree runs. Safety first, always be careful in the trees and stay close to friends.
Hakuba Brew Pub at the base of the mountain was one of my favourite lunch spots in all of Hakuba. The large selection of beer makes choosing just one hard! They have great vegan options with the crunchiest potato wedges you’ll ever find.
You can look too far at photos from Hakuba without seeing a snap from this iconic spot. The Iwatake City Bakery, unlike the name suggests, looks out over the backside of Iwatake. The terrace has incredible views but unfortunately, they only have single-use cups so I chose to skip the coffee.
Tsuguike is my personal pick for the best resort in the Hakuba Valley. Being one of the biggest resorts there is a variety of terrain, a great park and fantastic tree runs in the DBD area.
DBD! – The TsugaPow area aka “Double Black Diamond” contains the best tree runs in the Valley. The terrain here is epic and on a pow day, it can be a good option to avoid the crowds at Cortina. To ride through the gates here you need to get armband by sitting through a brief talk on safety. Tsugaike has to be my all-time favourite resort in the Hakuba Valley.
Place: Jackey’s kitchen 2F (located just below the top gondola station).
Time: 9:00 10:00 11:00( each session takes about 15-20 minutes)
Burger King – This one didn’t phase me too much but was very popular with friends. If you are craving junk food then Burger King will surely satisfy.
Awesome vegan pizza. – The pizza on-mountain at the YETI restaurant is incredible! There are two options, a marinara and a salad pizza concoction topped with soy cream cheese. Hard to describe but worth checking out.
Read more about Vegan options in Hakuba.
Long runs – The top to bottom of Tsugaike is around 900 vertical metres, definitely a leg burner! Tsugaike has nice long runs so you get plenty of turns in.
Park – The park in Tsugaike is great. There is a range of features for beginners through to advanced.
Awesome terrain and tree runs – Norikura is one of the least talked about resorts in the valley but I think it is one of the best. The terrain is fantastic with big open faces and some great tree runs.
Not easy to get to by bus so a great spot if you have a car.
Views of the Valley are unreal – looking back towards Happo you can see all of the resorts.
Connects to Cortina – From the top of Norikura you can drop over into Cortina. Make sure you buy a ticket that covers you for both.
Epic tree runs – Cortina is a go-to option after a big dump and for good reason. The terrain is phenomenal and Cortina tends to get the most snow out of all resorts in the Hakuba Valley.
Beautiful scenery – Aside from the mountain views, the Hotel Green Plaza at the base of Cortina is a stunning piece of architecture. Try visiting the onsen after a hard day skiing to rest your muscles.
Hard to access by bus – This may be an advantage if you have a car in Hakuba. The buses to Cortina and Norikura don’t run too often so you are committed to an early start and late finish. You can run into trouble if the lifts are slow to open on a big pow day and you can’t get back to the other resorts.
Gets very busy on pow days – As Cortina is renowned for its snowfall, it is usually the first choice for a lot of skiers and riders. Consider a different resort to get away from the crowds in peak season.
Sanosaka is one of the smallest resorts in the Hakuba Valley. They have some nice beginner and intermediate terrain and a basic park.
I visited on a powder day and the terrain was not steep enough to keep speed.
There are spectacular views of the Lake Aoki so it would be the perfect place to visit on a sunny day to hit the groomers.
It is a nice experience visiting a resort that is filled with locals and it’s hard to spot the tourists.
Kashimayari has some great terrain. It is popular with Japanese locals but you can find untouched pow in the trees days after a big snowfall.
It is harder than you would imagine finding sushi in Japan but Kashimayari is closest resort in the Hakuba Valley to the town of Omachi which has a Sushi Train restaurant named Kappa Sushi which is definitely worth a visit.
This is the one resort in the Hakuba Valley I haven’t personally visited.
“The resort has 4 chair lifts, 7 runs, and is great for beginners as they are wide and gentle. 70% of runs are geared for newbies while 30% are best suited for intermediates.” –Hakuba.com