Where to ski and ride in Hakuba

Japan | Hakuba

Where to ride in Hakuba

The host of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games certainly isn’t short on variety. Boasting 10 different resorts within its valley, Hakuba has something for every single ability. If visiting all 10 resorts is a bit of a stretch for your itinerary, worry not, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our top picks on where to ski and ride in Hakuba. 

Snowboarder in deep powder on the slopes of Hakuba
Unparalleled powder in Hakuba

Tsugaike Kogen

Are you a beginner or intermediate feeling somewhat nervous? Or keen to build your confidence and ability? Tsugaike Kogen shouldn’t be overlooked. Known for its gentle slopes and wide open spaces (devoid of trees) it’s perfect for those looking to find their legs. Our favourite run for families and beginners is the “Kane-no-naru-oka” (The hill where the bell rings). It’s mellow and a whopping 1,200m wide, 980m in length, and has a comfortable 9-degree average gradient.

The main street at the foothill of Tsugaike has various izakayas as well as Western-style restaurants for you to explore. All in all a very charming experience.

People riding the Tsugaike ski lifts on a bluebird day
Tsugaike ski lifts on a bluebird day


Powder hounds heading to Hakuba will of course have heard the great lore of Cortina and its off-piste tree runs and unmatched side country. It receives the highest and driest snowfall in the valley. Usually getting nearly twice as much snow as neighbouring resorts! The snow patrol team at Cortina is quite relaxed, and off-piste skiing is not an issue. Ridgeline runs that drop into near-perfectly spaced trees will delight those wanting to earn their turns and get waist-deep in the pow. Cortina is also interlinked with the neighbouring Norikura, giving you access to all 25 combined runs.

Tree runs in Cortina
Tree runs in Cortina


The big crowd-pleaser for families or those travelling with a large posse of varying abilities is Iwatake. It has plenty of mellow beginner greens, right through to the more adrenaline-pumping intermediate and black runs. Once beginners build confidence, they can take an easy run from the top of the mountain all the way to the base, there are also more challenging intermediate routes that branch off from this run. Advanced skiers can stay busy with high-speed runs, powder skiing, and a terrain park.

On a powder day when everybody has hopped on the Cortina bandwagon, Iwatake’s tree runs are near empty. And, just as froth-inducing! It is also more protected than its neighbours, so when Happo or 47 have gone on wind-hold, head to Iwatake. The piece de resistance is the natural half-pipe on the mountain’s reverse side (A Course). Although it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Travel Consultant Rob with happy customer Mark Dallay at Iwatake, Japan
Travel Consultant Rob with happy customer Mark Dallay at Iwatake, Japan


Spreading across 220 hectares, Happo-One (pronounced On Ay) is the largest and most central resort in the valley. The slalom and ski jumping were held here during the ’98 Winter Olympics, as the pitch is on the steeper side (1701 vertical metres). Happo possesses some more mellow terrain as well – check out the scenic Panorama and Saka cat tracks, the views will not disappoint. On a powder day check out the tree runs on Skyline, they’re not as long as Cortina’s but just as fun. Or on a clear day we’d suggest heading to Reisen Grat (the resort’s highest peak) and skiing down through Alpen, Usagidaira and Panorama. For those who like to catch air, head on over Happo Banks Terrain Park AKA ‘the Banks’ to those in the know.

Hiking in the Happo-One backcountry. Credit: Ollie Godbold
Happo-One backcountry. Credit: Ollie Godbold

Hakuba 47 & Goryu

Connected to Goryu, this resort sits right next to Happo-One (the two have reciprocal views of each other) and is adjacent to Goryu and Echoland villages. This is another resort that’s great for the family, with a large variety of beginner and intermediate terrain and some challenging blacks thrown in the mix. A few good days could be spent here, as the tree runs are mint when the powder is on and the terrain park is perfect for firmer conditions. Sign up to the “Double Black Diamond Club” and you’ll have access to the formidable off-piste and backcountry. It’s free to register and you’ll receive a bib that gives you access to the exclusive terrain.

Skier on the slopes of Hakuba 47
Skier on the slopes of Hakuba 47


If you’re ready to experience this powder paradise for yourself, complete an enquiry form, and our team will happily create a custom package for you. Or discover our packages below:

Discover Hakuba Packages

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? Speak to one of our ski travel specialists today!