Hakuba Valley Japan’s #1 Ski Resort: Bigger Is Better!

The Hakuba Valley is Japan’s #1 ski resort – bigger is better!

When 10 ski areas in the valley joined to form HAKUBAVALLEY they made excellent individual resorts into simply the biggest and best single ticket ski option in Japan.

True alpine terrain to legendary tree skiing. Long, wide groomers to awesome parks. Sheltered family areas and perfect beginner slopes. Whatever your level or preference, you have an amazing array of options here.

All without taking the HAKUBAVALLEY Pass out of your sleeve pocket.

Slashing a line at Hakuba Iwatake
Real Mountains are what you get in HAKUBAVALLEY – slashing a line at Iwatake © Hiroya Nakata

Epic Pass and Epic Australia Pass holders get 5 days straight skiing or riding at their choice of HAKUBAVALLEY resorts daily, with zero blackout dates.

NB: Valid for current season for Epic Pass holders and following season for Epic Australia Passes – ie buy the 2022 Epic Oz pass to ski 5 days with it during the 2022-23 season at HAKUBAVALLEY.

You get to enjoy all this..

Jigatake Snow Resort751,500m4,800m30ha
Kashimayari Snow Resort1585,000m14,200m78ha
ABLE Hakuba Goryu15125,000m12,620m120ha
Hakuba47 Winter Sports Park866,400m13,570m32ha
Hakuba Happo-one Snow Resort14228,000m23,300m220ha
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field2693,300m18,220m125ha
Tsugaike Mountain Resort14194,900m20,450m196ha
Hakuba Norikura Onsen Snow Resort1692,500m8,919m50ha
Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort1663,500m13,335m50ha
Looking south along the Hakuba Valley from Norikura
Looking south along the Hakuba Valley from Norikura © Norikura Onsen Snow Resort

HAKUBAVALLEY day passes are great value

Down days are built in, like ski 2 days in 4, 3 in 6, right up to 10 days in 16 for flexibility. So you can sightsee around the Hakuba Valley, and plan awesome day trips like to see the snow monkeys or visit Matsumoto castle and lots more. Or just have a rest!

Which makes HAKUBAVALLEY perfect for a longer holiday.

You can even ski two or more different areas on the same day using only one day’s pass for even more variety.

Compared to what you pay at other international destinations of similar stature, it’s amazing value.

¥6,600 is under USD $60, or just over AUD $80 – versus UP TO USD $200 or more for a day pass at leading American resorts, or AUD $180 at Australian resorts!

The savings add up the more days you want to ski too.

HAKUBAVALLEY 2021-2022 Rates: book your pass here

Pass TypeAdultChild
1 day pass ¥6,600 ¥3,800Valid only on the day of purchase.
2 day pass ¥12,500 ¥7,100Valid for 4 days from the first day of use.
3 day pass ¥18,700 ¥10,500Valid for 6 days from the first day of use.
4 day pass ¥24,900 ¥13,900Valid for 8 days from the first day of use.
5 day pass ¥31,000 ¥17,400Valid for 10 days from the first day of use.
6 day pass ¥37,200 ¥20,800Valid for 11 days from the first day of use.
7 day pass ¥43,400 ¥24,300Valid for 12 days from the first day of use.
8 day pass ¥49,000 ¥27,400Valid for 13 days from the first day of use.
9 day pass ¥54,700 ¥30,400Valid for 14 days from the first day of use.
10 day pass ¥60,300 ¥33,500Valid for 16 days from the first day of use.
*Child 6 – 12 years; u6 FOC (u3 at Jigatake)
Hakuba Valley shuttle bus links all ski areas
Your pass is also your bus ticket © HAKUBAVALLEY

The HV Shuttle Bus links all Hakuba Valley areas FREE for pass holders

Getting around to individual areas is easy using the HV Shuttle Bus that connects all HAKUBAVALLEY resorts.

HV Day Pass & HV Season Pass holders can ride the shuttle bus for free on the days when they ski or snowboard.

Epic/Epic Australia Pass holders also ride free with their 5-consecutive-day HV Day Pass. This season the shuttle will be operating from Dec 25, 2021 to Feb 23, 2022. Check the HV Shuttle Bus Timetable here.

9 Snow Resorts, 1 Ski Pass = Japan’s #1 Snow Resort

With Sanosaka temporarily closed you have a choice of 9 fantastic areas for the 2021-2022 season, which kicked off on 25 November. So let’s check them out in no order of preference, but just a neat North to South progression along the valley.

Face shot powder Hakuba Cortina
Faceshots in the trees at Hakuba Cortina © Hiroya Nakata

Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort

Hakuba Cortina is the closest resort in the valley to the Sea of Japan, which explains why it often gets even more famous ‘Japow’ then neighbours further along the range.

Combine that with their World famous tree zones and this is Mecca for powder chasers.

Cortina was one of the first Japanese ski areas to open up their tree skiing a decade ago and word has spread far and wide.

Get here early on the many pow days. Or stay ski in/ski out at the amazing neo-tudor style Hotel Green Plaza Hakuba with 257 rooms – the largest in the area. You’ll love the onsen, the variety of Japanese and Italian meals across 5 restaurants, and great coffee and sweets in the café.

If 40° plus waist deep tree lines is not you, no problem – 70% of the runs are rated beginner / intermediate at Cortina, with more cruising on offer at neighbouring inter-linked Norikura.

Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort Mountain Stats
Fresh groomer run at Hakuba Norikura Resort
Frosty fresh at Norikura © Hakuba Norikura Onsen Snow Resort

Hakuba Norikura Onsen Snow Resort

A wide open sunny layout, where most runs funnel back to the onsen hotel at the base, makes Norikura the sort of place where you won’t get lost or lose touch with the kids.

Yet the decent 600m vertical drop (actually more than Cortina next door) lets you stretch the legs for some easy cruising.

Norikura also gets lots of snow like Cortina, with generally mellower powder lines and less competition for them.

Snow bikes, snow shoeing and telemark skiing are popular options.

Hakuba Norikura Onsen Resort Mountain Stats
Hakuba Norikura Onsen Resort Mountain Stats
Hakuba Norikura Onsen Resort 2021-2022 English Trail Map
Hakuba Norikura Onsen Resort Trail Map
Powder skiing the tree zone at Tsugaike Hakuba Valley
Tsugaike powder © Hiroya Nakata

Tsugaike Mountain Resort

Tsugaike is the second largest individual ski area in the Hakuba Valley, with lots of options beneath the backdrop of 3,000m peaks.

The lifts top out at 1,704m providing a very respectable 900m + vertical drop on long cruising runs nearly 5km long.

A massive 50% of Tsugaike terrain is suitable for beginner skiers, the wide open lower slopes served by numerous lifts the perfect place to get started and get better.

Japow lovers can get their fill in Tsugaike’s awesome powder and tree run zone, called Tsuga-Pow DBD (Double Black Diamond). Before entering you need to watch an informational video and submit an agreement form.

TG Parks operate “First Half” and “Second Half” park set ups, the latter at the top of the mountain.

The lively village below the base area is popular with younger locals, especially on weekends, offering some great value aprés venues and accommodation to suit student budgets.

Tsugaike Mountain Stats
Hakuba Tsugaike 2021-2022 English Trail Map
Tsugaike Mountain Resort trail map
Charging hard at Iwatake © Hiroya Nakata

Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field

Iwatake is another area with plenty of wide open cruisers and magnificent panoramic views south and north along the Hakuba Valley. Here 50% of the terrain is intermediate level, ideal for progression and relaxed cruising.

Local insiders rate Iwatake a great option on socked in and windy days when conditions can be rugged higher up.

On powder days Iwatake’s back bowl is a fun place to be, and if most of the competition has gone elsewhere in the valley you can get lucky lapping it here.

Take time out to check out the views from the HAKUBA MOUNTAIN HARBOR restaurant at the top of the top-to-bottom gondola.

For a change of pace switch to nordic skis and enjoy the sheltered trails through picturesque snow-laden trees from the Iwatake base area.

Iwatake Mountain Stats
Hakuba Iwatake Trail Map
Hakuba Iwatake trail map
Skiing Hakuba Happo-one Skyline run
Alpine awesomeness at Happo © Hiroya Nakata

Hakuba Happo-one Snow Resort

Happo-one is the original and best known of the Hakuba Valley ski areas, home to the blue ribbon alpine ski Downhill events at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Ski racing at Happo goes back much further than that though: 78 years in the case of the famous Riesen Slalom, held in February or March each year. The Riesen course is one of the best groomed runs in Japan, perfect to hit first thing in the morning when the corduroy is fresh and you can really open the throttle.

Happo is big mountain skiing, on trails up to 8km long over a mighty 1,071m vertical – both the largest in the valley, and among the top handful in Japan.

Big mountain is understatement for the terrain above and beside you in the Northern Japan Alps.

In-bounds powder zones and off-piste areas in the alpine are another powerful drawcard.

The Sakka base area provides ideal sheltered kids and learner areas.

With so many on-snow options, it’s great to have a big selection of mountain restaurants, cafes and bars to refuel at, reflect on where you’ve been, and plan where to hit next.

Happo-One Mountain Stats
Hakuba Happo-one English Trail Map
Hakuba Happo-one Trail Map
park set up at Hakuba47 Snow Park
Like a great park? You’ll love Hakuba47 Snow Park © HAKUBAVALLEY

Hakuba47 Snow Park

It’s no coincidence Japan has produced so many great park riders – since the snowboarding boom they have been in love with parks, and Hakuba47’s Winter Sports Park sets the bar high with pro level half-pipe, big kickers for jumps, and plenty of features to play on. Ski it, ride it, or kick back and watch the action.

But it’s not all park: the terrain split is an ideal 30/40/30 easy/intermediate/advanced, with the second longest trails in the valley (up to 6.4km long) after Happo.

The tree skiing at Hakuba47 is sensational on a pow day, with a choice of ‘Open Tree Zones’ and ‘Tree Riding Members Zones’ (which operate on a pre-registration system at the ski School at the base to use the gates to them).

Hakuba47 links directly with neighbouring Hakuba Goryu (see below) and between them they add up to the largest ‘single’ ski area, at a very respectable 26,190 sqm.

Hakuba47 Snow Park Mountain Stats
Hakuba Goryu / Hakuba47 Trail Map 2021-2022
Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort / Hakuba47 Snow Park joint trail map
Views to Myoko from Hakuba Goryu
Plenty of great runs at Goryu © Hiroya Nakata

ABLE Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort

One of the first to open and last to close of the Hakuba Valley resorts, ABLE Hakuba Goryu gets a lot of snow and offers lots of choices. There are 3 distinct areas of alpine skiing to enjoy.

Alps-daira is the highest of them, with some challenging steep runs off the top. The aptly named Champion Expert Course is probably the steepest long piste in the whole valley.

Lower down the Tohmi and Iimori zones are both great for beginners and families.

The Tohmi area boasts several slopeside hotels for ski in/ski out access, and offers the largest night skiing area in Hakuba which now runs 100% on renewable energy.

The overall mix of terrain options between Goryu and neighbouring Hakuba47 demands a few days at least.

Of course the views are spectacular, and The Alps 360 restaurant at the top of the gondola is a great place to take them in.

ABLE Hakuba Goryu Snow Resort Mountain Stats
Lake views from Hakuba Kashimayari Snow Resort
Enjoy great views over Aoki Lake and runs up to 5km long at Kashimayari © Hiroya Nakata

Kashimayari Snow Resort

Kashimayari is laid back, casual and mostly local. A total contrast to the international big resort feel of the likes of Happo and Hakuba47-Goryu.

But if you make the effort and take the scenic drive south through Omachi, or ride the HV Shuttle there, it’s well worth it.

Unusually, you can drive all the way round the back side of the range and up to the mid-mountain base area, or start from the bottom at the valley side just past gorgeous Lake Aoki.

Either way, Kashimayari has plenty of terrain choice, mostly either side of the upper base area. The shorter, steeper West Mountain side offers pitches up to 38°. The higher North Mountain side reaches 1550m for some nice intermediate level cruising.

It’s popular with young boarders on a budget.

Kashimayari is a great family snow choice in the Hakuba Valley, their new snow tubing park for 2021-2022 adding to that appeal.

Well worth the detour for the views of the Kashima Yarigatake Mountains and the old school ambience. Less competition on pow days too!

Kashimayari Snow Resort Mountain Stats
Hakuba Kashimayari Trail Map
Kashimayari Trail Map
The unique sledding lift for kids at Jigatake, Hakuba Valley
Jigatake has a unique lift for the sledding slope © Jigatake

Jigatake Snow Resort

Tucked away at the southern Omachi end of the Hakuba Valley, Jigatake is secluded, quiet and cruisy. Just perfect for a family with little kids to enjoy some relaxing snow time away from the bustle of the bigger resorts.

Sledding is available for kids off the only-in-Japan Troika lift. Wish they had those when we were that little!

While they toboggan you can take a cruise on the wide open slopes above.

A little family orientated ski area like Jigatake is a real blast from the past. Fantastic value, friendly and fun.

Hakuba Valley Jigatake Snow Resort mountain statistics graphic
Jigatake Snow Resort Mountain Stats
Jigatake Trail Map

Hakuba Valley Back Country Ski Options

There is an amazing absolutely world class variety of back country terrain options from key resorts in the HAKUBAVALLEY.

Obviously, you need to be fully equipped with both the gear (as a minimum avalanche beacon, probe & shovel) and the knowledge how to use it, before venturing into any back country areas.

You should never go alone into these areas. The same applies for tree skiing zones in-bounds on powder days too – it is easy to suffocate in deep snow.

Several exceptional local guiding companies can provide expert guided excursions and courses – such as certified Avalanche training and rental equipment for those that don’t have their own. Check the Evergreen Alpine Academy for example.

HAKUBAVALLEY back country access is available only when conditions allow solely through designated gates at Goryu, Happo-one, Tsugaike, Norikura, and Cortina.

Check the HAKUBAVALLEY Safety Tips here.

Snow Action has worked closely with some of the best, most experienced guides in Japan over many years and many of them have contributed some exceptional features for us.

For some great back country ideas in the valley check this feature:

More Hakuba Valley Info & Latest Conditions

The HAKUBAVALLEY resort collective has a great website here with all the latest information and conditions in one spot.

You will find all you need to know there and links to find out more – to all the individual resorts.

The live lift status updates are one of our favourites. This is Goryu today, where they already have 95cm of snow up top.

Access: Best road and rail routes to the Hakuba Valley

Via the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano and express bus from there you can get from Tokyo to Hakuba in less than 3 hours.

Access routes to the Hakuba Valley air, road & rail
from Tokyoby Hokuriku Shinkansen Line and express busin as little as 2 hours 50 minutes
from Osakaby Tokai Shinkansen, the limited express Shinano and the limited express Azusain as little as 4 hours 47 minutes
from Nagoyaby the limited express Shinanoin as little as 3 hours 34 minutes
from Kanazawaby Hokuriku Shinkansen and JR Oito Linein as little as 2 hours 42 minute

For best options using trains/buses/self-drive check the link here.