Japan has some amazing ski hotels in amazing locations, and the Hotel Jogakura on Mt Hakkoda is one of the best. Hotel Jogakura is a winner for location, snow fall, cuisine, onsen, character and the exceptional local produce menu included.
On the downside, very little English is spoken, but you can easily get by. For example, we don’t eat pork or fatty meat of any sort and had no problems requesting they adapt the incredible seasonal kaiseki multi course dinner menu for us to delete those items and add more of the amazing Aomori region seafood dishes.
Just a few kilometres past the legendary Hakkoda Ropeway, one of several places with strong claims to be Japan’s snowiest of all, and at the end of one of the poled out backcountry ski routes down from it (be warned, there is a lot of poling involved to get back on skis to the hotel though), Hotel Jogakura is not surprisingly a mecca for backcountry ski enthusiasts from Japan and the world. For example, we met a bunch of regulars from Whistler who have been coming here for years, and the ski room is full of devotees working on their gear to get the wax just right for the day’s delivery of #Japowder.
The Jogakura runs a free shuttle pick up service from Shin Aomori shinkansen station, about 50 minutes away, at set times (or on request for groups of 5 or more) and to and from the Hakkoda Ropeway 10 minutes up the road & the fabulous historic sunkayu onsen 10 minutes down the road. The JR Rail bus service goes past a couple of times a day as well, taking 1 hour 20 minutes from Aomori station, so getting here is easy.
Once you arrive you quickly realise Hotel Jogakura is a complete get away from it all experience. Buried in deep snow – they are constantly clearing the entrance – and fully self-contained, it’s a relaxing romantic escape whether you ski or not.
We do ski of course, so our primary mission was to charge the deep stuff at Hakkoda, fuelled by a fresh local produce breakfast buffet.
After a big day there it’s nice to haul in for an authentic indoor/outdoor onsen, maybe followed by a relaxation session in the massage chairs, or in the ladies’ powder & relaxation rooms for the girls.
Apres-ski is not a big priority, but the bar serves great beer and local sake as you would expect, ahead of a magnificent dinner banquet. Young American intern Ben, who is on a working holiday in Aomori, translated the menu for us – dishes like magnolia leaf baked salmon with shitake mushrooms – one night, the other we just went with the flow.
The rooms range from simple Japanese style to luxurious including private onsen bath tubs.
It all adds up to a total getaway package for discerning ski travellers who like to escape big resorts for a taste of real Japan, not to mention a shot at the amazing snow.
Japan small area ski specialists japansnowaccommodation.com can book it for you with local extras such as guiding, and recommend combinations that work well with other resorts.
The hotel’s website has a good English section www.jogakura.com/english.html
For the Hakkoda ropeway check www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp/lang/en.html
For Aomori Prefecture information go to www.en-aomori.com