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Skiing in Hakuba

Skiing In Hakuba – The Ultimate Guide

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Skiing in Hakuba rose to its fame after hosting the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998. The valley consists of ten resorts – Jiigatake, Kashimayari, Sanosaka, Goryu, Hakuba 47, Happo One, Iwatake, Tsugaike Kogen, Norikura, and Cortina. With so many different resorts and limited time on the mountain, it can be difficult to decide which resort to visit and which resort to miss during a holiday in Hakuba. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide for skiing in Hakuba, covering which ski resorts are best suited for everyone’s differing needs.

Skiing in HakubaLooking for family-friendly while skiing in Hakuba?

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – As the resorts are connected, Goryu and Hakuba 47 provide a whole day of family fun, as there are beginner to advanced runs, with the runs groomed daily. There is also a variety of terrain, with a terrain park at Hakuba 47 for those looking to practice new skills.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen is a great family-friendly resort with the inclusion of a terrain park and the Snow WOW activity area. Activities at Snow WOW include Amidas (3 layer ropes course), snow tubing, snow racing, snow driving, snow skating, fat bikes, toboggans and even paraglide towing to keep kids (and adults) entertained all day long.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka is a great family-friendly option with its recent upgrade in 2020. The views overlooking Lake Aoki are something that everyone can appreciate, and the upgraded terrain park provides varying levels of tricks to practice. Tree runs are also available this year, meaning more advanced riders enjoy thrilling powder runs, and dogs are even allowed on some runs, making the resort perfect for the whole family.

 

 

Looking for groomed runs?

Groomed runs can make riding a smooth and pleasant experience, with fresh corduroy tracks coveted after by beginner skiers and intermediate/advanced snowboarders alike. Whether practising turns or freestyling and buttering on a snowboard, a groomed run can be enjoyed by many on the mountain. However, not all resorts are groomed every day, so we would recommend choosing these resorts during your stay while skiing in Hakuba.

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – These runs are groomed daily so there will be no questions deciding which resort to visit if groomers are desired. The gentle slopes in Goryu are more beginner-friendly, whereas Hakuba 47 has intermediate/advanced runs that are more challenging – as well as having the best terrain park in Japan to practise tricks and jumps.

Tsugaike Kogen – This resort has a great variety of runs for beginners to advanced riders. While Tsugaike Kogen can be great on a powder day, the resort grooms their runs every day so that runs are smooth and avoid building up moguls.

Norikura – Norikura is great for families wanting to learn and progress together. The front slopes are wide open, making it great for getting photos and videos of every family member learning to ride.

Want to experience all the powder snow?

Skiing in HakubaJapan is famous for its dry powder snow, and skiing in Hakuba is no exception. Some resorts are better suited for those that are powder hungry, so we would recommend visiting these slopes for a fix of powder during your trip.

Cortina – Cortina is known for its powder tree runs. The resort is shaped like a bowl and therefore catches a lot of powder when there is snowfall. Because tree runs are the predominant runs offered at Cortina, these would be best suited for strong intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Tsugaike Kogen – While we recommended Tsugaike Kogen for groomed runs for beginners, it has some fantastic powder pockets on the top half of the mountain. First tracks are always smooth riding and can be waist-deep in the morning. There is also a designated Tsuga Pow DBD run which is perfect for those looking for deep powder.

 

Looking for beginner-friendly?

Norikura – Norikura has some of the best terrain in the Hakuba Valley for learning to ski & snowboard as well as progressing skills. There are wide open runs which make it perfect for beginners, and there are some slightly more challenging runs for progression.

Goryu – Goryu resort is groomed every day and has wide, gentle gradient slopes in the Toomi Zone (Escal Plaza) and Iimori Zone (Hakuba Snow Sports School) that are perfect for beginners practising turns, without picking up too much speed.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen is well-groomed and has two beginner-friendly runs at the bottom – Kane-no-naru-oka 1 and 2. Both are widespread with gentle gradient slopes ideal for learning.

Kashimayari – This resort is ideal for children learning to ski, with a magic carpet and hoops/slides. The resort is also much smaller than most other resorts, meaning there are fewer runs and variety in terrain – however, there will be minimal waiting for chairlifts.

Jiigatake – Jiigatake is a beginner-friendly resort located close to Omachi town (about 30min drive from Happo One). The resort is less occupied but has a lower snow depth to the other resorts due to the low elevation – meaning runs are closed more often. This resort would be suitable for a beginner looking to practice by themselves, as there will be minimal waiting for chair lift queues.

 

Want to practice your technique with mogul runs?

Happo One – Happo One has multiple runs targeted for mogul lovers, with the runs located throughout the mountain. Select areas on runs are kept ungroomed to practice these tight turns – including on Alpen Ridge, Riesen Grat Course, Central Course, Olympic Course I/II, Kurobishi Slope, Usagidaira Slope and Kitaone Course.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka has a specialty artificial mogul course which is very popular due to its strategic bump placement and continual remakes. This resort would be perfect for someone wanting to challenge technique with a great view.

Norikura – This resort maintains the mogul course almost every day, located under the No 3 High-Speed Chair Lift.

 

Love the terrain park?

Hakuba 47 – Hakuba 47 is known for one of the best terrain parks in Japan. This park has a well-maintained half pipe, ten kickers ranging from small to 20m high, jib rails, boxes and berms for beginners to expert park enthusiasts.

Tsugaike Kogen – TG Parks at Tsugaike Kogen is one of the largest terrain parks in the area, and is the highest altitude terrain park in the Hakuba Valley. The split locations of the terrain parks means freestyle enthusiasts have uninterrupted park access regardless of snow conditions. There are a variety of kickers, a box and a bank at this park.

Kashimayari – Kashimayari features Nakatsuna Freestyle Park including an iron ball, rails, bellows, boxes, poles and plastic pipes. It is ideal for those adventuring with park features as there are a variety of different sized features to practice on.

Iwatake – Iwatake has the “Love Snow Park” featuring a mix of items including kickers, wave, rails and boxes for beginner to advanced skiers alike.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka have updated their terrain park in the 19/20 season, with more rails, boxes and kickers for park enthusiasts to practice park skills on.

 

Want to get the longest runs possible and the most skiing out of your day?

Skiing in HakubaHappo One – Happo One has the longest run at 8,000m top to bottom, starting at the top of the Riesen Grat course through to the bottom of Sakka slopes. With a combination of steeper terrain to flat cat-tracks, this will give you the most riding time in one go.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen has a gondola that can take you to the very top of the mountain. You can then ski the longest run of 4,630m, and enjoy the comfort of the gondola ride back to the top again, and repeat.

 

Looking for a great photo opportunity?

Iwatake – With 360-degree panoramic views of Hakuba Valley and a summit terrace to enjoy these views at an altitude of 1,289m, Iwatake is a fantastic resort to take photos of the Alps after a snowfall.

Sanosaka – Sanosaka has arguably one of the best views, with the resort overlooking Lake Aoki. Photos featuring both the ski slopes as well as the incredible lake make this one of the most aesthetic resorts in Hakuba. Bonus if you find any dogs to take photos of while there, as this resort is dog-friendly!

 

Want the most varied terrain in your day?

Skiing in HakubaHappo One – Being the largest resort in Hakuba, Happo One has a great variety of terrain to choose from if varied terrain is desired. There is a mix of powder runs, groomed runs, mogul runs, gentle slopes, and off-piste/backcountry to explore in Happo One, that you could easily spend more than a day to experience it all.

Goryu / Hakuba 47 – With a combination of beginner-friendly slopes, terrain parks and more intermediate/advanced terrain, Goryu / Hakuba 47 are an excellent choice for a variety of terrain to enjoy during the day.

Tsugaike Kogen – Tsugaike Kogen has a great mix of beginner-friendly to intermediate slopes, powder pockets off-piste, a double black diamond zone, Snow WOW activity section for a full day of varied terrain.

 

A resort for everyone

With ten resorts in the Hakuba Valley, there is no shortage of options for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the mountains as there is something for everyone – regardless of ability, desired terrain or location.

If you’d like to experience skiing in Hakuba we’d love to hear from you – contact the SKiJapan family today!

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Japans Best Ski Resorts

Japan’s Best Ski Resorts

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Japan is easily one of the best skiing destinations on the planet, famous for its quantity and quality powder snow falling across the countries’ vast number of ski resorts. International riders return year after year making the most of the deep powder snow, stunning culture and traditional food. We’ll help you to discover the best ski resorts in Japan.

In general, Japan’s ski resorts are not nearly as cold as other northern hemisphere ski resorts with temperatures only reaching around -10c to -15c at most ski resorts, which is quite mild when compared to temperatures overseas. Most ski resorts are also at quite low altitudes, so there is no chance of altitude sickness or acclimatization. On top of that, Japan’s ski resorts receive some of the biggest snowfalls in the world, giving riders access to world-class powder found nowhere else on earth.

Best Ski Resorts in Japan

What are the best ski resorts in Japan?

  • Niseko
  • Hakuba
  • Rusutsu
  • Furano
  • Nozawa Onsen
  • Kiroro
  • Tomamu
  • Myoko Kogen
  • Shiga Kogen
  • Naeba
  • Arai
  • Madarao

Niseko

The undisputed “powder capital of Japan”, Niseko United, receives some of the most consistent snowfalls in all of Japan. The snow that falls here is said to be the best quality powder snow in the world, famed for its light and dry qualities. Niseko is composed of 4 ski resorts, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village, and An’nupuri, all linked together and accessible by one lift pass, creating a large and diverse ski area.

Off-piste, tree skiing and backcountry skiing here is some of the best and most easily accessible in Japan, with a well-established gate-entry system offering riders freedom to explore the area.

Niseko is also famous for its lively village atmosphere, great restaurants and bars with most located in Hirafu Village at the base of Grand Hirafu ski resort. Most Niseko accommodation, shops and services are located here as well, including NBS rental and ski school. The other three resorts also have a growing number of accommodation, facilities and shops. This ski resort is consistantly rated as one of best ski resorts in Japan.

  • Niseko is 2.5 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Consistent, reliable, good quality snow
  • Lively village atmosphere & nightlife
  • Range of Niseko accommodation options
  • Excellent off-piste skiing on top of a sizeable on-piste area

Hakuba

With 10 different ski resorts all accessible via one lift pass, Hakuba is one of the largest combined ski areas in Japan. Each ski resort is accessible by shuttle which is free for holders of the All Mountain lift pass. The biggest ski resorts within Hakuba are Happo-One, Hakuba Goryu47, Tsugaike Kogen and Cortina.

Hakuba is known for its variety of terrain which caters for both beginners and experts. Riders can access backcountry terrain from the top of Happo-One, offering expert skiers world-class backcountry riding on some of the biggest mountains in Japan.

There is a range of accommodation styles including the affordable Hakuba Gateway Hotel, and the chic, newly developed Grand Phenix Hakuba, as well as many restaurants and shops. There are several villages which are spread out around the bases of the ski resorts with the most prominent village area, “Happo”, at the base of the Happo-One ski resort.

  • Hakuba is 5 hours from Narita intl. airport and 3 hours from Tokyo station
  • Big ski area
  • 10 Ski Resorts
  • Long runs with steep sections for advanced riders
  • World-class backcountry terrain (expert only)
  • Close to cultural experiences
  • Lively village and nightlife
  • Watch: How to get to Hakuba

Rusutsu

Rusutsu Resort is one of Japan’s best ‘all-in-one’ ski resorts, winning “Japan’s Best Ski Resort” in 2017 and 2018 at the World Ski Awards. The resort has high-quality ski runs and tree skiing, excellent restaurants, two hotels and a brand new onsen facility.

The ski area is divided into two sides, West Mountain and East Mountain which are linked by a gondola. West Mountain has a handful of runs but includes the world-renowned “Side Country Park”, which has jumps, drops and log-rides all made from natural materials built into the forest. The East Mountain is much larger with lots of tree runs and long groomed runs. Rusutsu is an absolute favourite for powder hounds with snowfall almost rivalling that of Niseko which is just 45 minutes away.

There are two central hotels – the “Rusutsu Resort Hotel“, located at the base of the West Mountain ski area, and the “Westin Rusutsu Resort“, located on the East Mountain side. A short monorail ride links both hotels so guests can easily access either side without really having to leave the hotel. Rusutsu Resort Hotel has several restaurants including “Octoberfest” which has a great buffet breakfast and dinner (highly recommended), as well as an arcade, merry-go-round, swimming pool, and many shops. Westin Rusutsu Resort Hotel has two restaurants, an onsen and a fitness studio. There are affordable villas and houses available close to the resort as well.

  • Rusutsu is 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • An all-inclusive, self-contained resort
  • Great tree skiing and powder runs
  • Mostly hotel accommodation
  • Arcade, Merry-go-round
  • New Onsen facilities

Best Ski Resorts in Japan - Rusutsu

Furano

The ski resort of Furano is known for its stunning powder runs, ski-in ski-out hotels, and thriving town. The ski area has 24 runs, six backcountry access gates, two hotels at the resort and famously receives some of the lightest and driest snow in the world.

Furano is made up of two ski areas, “The Kitanomine Zone” and the “Furano Zone”, which are connected by a lift and ski run. The Furano Zone has a large ropeway style gondola which departs every 10 minutes as well as four other chairlifts and provides access to four out of the six backcountry gates. The Kitanomine Zone has a six-passenger gondola that runs right to the top of the resort as well as four-seater chairlift on the mid slopes.

There are many runs for beginners and intermediate riders on the middle slopes with some of the best powder skiing in Japan on the upper sections of the resort for advanced and expert riders. This mix of runs and terrain makes Furano one of the few resorts that cater for both experts and beginners. Both zones in Furano also offer night skiing on the middle and lower runs till 8 pm.

  • Furano is around 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Large Town a few minutes from the ski resort
  • Excellent groomed runs
  • Great off-piste and powder runs
  • Good resort for both experts and beginners

Nozawa Onsen

The ski resort of Nozawa Onsen is a beautiful mix of Japanese culture and world-class skiing. The town is lively with many accommodations, restaurants, onsens, bars and cafes. The onsens in the village are a major attraction with over 13 easily accessible facilities right in town.

The ski resort itself is quite large with a generous mix of terrain. The backcountry is world-class with easy access around the resort and mountains, and there is an active local community of backcountry enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why Nozawa Onsen is becoming increasingly popular, with great skiing in a truly traditional Japanese town.

  • Nozawa Onsen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport
  • Many historical onsens
  • Easy to soak in the Japanese culture
  • Excellent backcountry terrain
  • A traditional Japanese village atmosphere
  • Many options for accommodation

Best Ski Resorts in Japan - Nozawa OnsenKiroro

The second self-contained resort on this list, Kiroro, is known for its quantity and quality of powder snow, receiving some of the most snowfall of any resort in Japan. The resort has two hotels, as well as large apartments. The long, groomed runs are immaculate and soft, perfect for beginners and intermediate riders. There is also a “powder zone” for progressing to full powder skiing.

Kiroro also has backcountry access gates, offering a wide variety of deep powder terrain. The backcountry powder runs are short, but since the area is so vast, it’s possible to get fresh tracks each run. To access the gates, guests must sign up at the mountain centre desk in the ticket office at the start of the day.

  • Kiroro is 2 hours from New Chitose Airport
  • Not close to the local town
  • Self-contained resort
  • Wide area
  • Excellent powder snow

Kiroro Ski ResortTomamu

Tomamu ski resort is one of the best family-friendly resorts in Japan, located just 90 minutes from Sapporo New Chitose Airport. This self-contained resort has a mix of beginner and intermediate runs, with some advanced off-piste areas near the top of the resort. There is also a cat skiing operation accessing high-level terrain and fresh powder runs.

The resort has a large indoor, heated swimming area called “Mina-Mina Beach”, a cute ice village, snowmobiles, snow rafting and many more on and off-snow activities. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is one of the best (and most comfortable) options for a family-friendly winter holiday in Japan.

  • Tomamu is 90 minutes from New Chitose Airport
  • Self-contained resort
  • Primarily beginner and intermediate terrain with some advanced areas
  • Excellent quality accommodation
  • One of the best family resorts
  • No local town
  • Many restaurants at the resort

Hoshino Tomamu Ski ResortMyoko Kogen

The historical ski resort of Myoko Kogen is one of the oldest ski resorts in all of Japan and is composed of three main ski areas (linked together by shuttle bus) offering some of the longest ski runs in Japan as well as some of the steepest. Intermediate and beginners also have a wide variety of terrain for efficient progression. Despite the age of the ski resort, the 40 lifts and resort facilities are relatively modern.

Myoko Kogen is known for its relaxed village atmosphere, with most accommodations located in “Akakura Village”. There are many restaurants, including izakayas, burger shops, cafes, bars and more.

  • Myoko Kogen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • Historical ski area
  • Many long and steep ski runs
  • Relaxed, Japanese village atmosphere
  • Many options for accommodation

Myoko KogenShiga Kogen

One of the largest ski areas in Japan is Shiga Kogen, comprising of 18 interlinked ski resorts which are all accessible with a single lift pass. There is varied terrain, with mostly intermediate and beginner runs with several advanced runs. The powder snow is good, and there are some excellent un-groomed runs across some of the ski areas. For travellers looking for varied terrain, this is one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

There are many hotels around the base of the various ski areas, but there is no single central village like at some other ski resorts. The hotels offer and bars, and it’s easy to hop from resort to resort even at night. Shiga Kogen is close to the famous Snow Monkeys, and it’s not difficult to access Matsumoto castle and Zenkoji temple.

  • Shiga Kogen is 4.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • 18 interlinked ski resorts
  • One of the biggest ski areas in Japan
  • No single central village
  • Feels quiet due to the size

Shiga KogenNaeba

Naeba Ski Resort is one of the most accessible resorts in Japan to access from Tokyo with a travel time of just 2.5 hours. Neaba is a mostly all-inclusive resort with large hotels, lots of restaurants and modern services. The ski area is divided into two zones, both accessible via a single lift pass. The “Dragondola” is one of the longest gondolas in Japan at 5.8km long and links both sides of the resort. The main ski area, directly in front of the hotels, offers wide-open intermediate and beginner runs with some advanced runs at the top as well as two terrain parks and powder fields. The “Tashiro” ski area offers some more challenging routes with a focus on powder. The combination of these two ski areas makes Naeba one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

The hotels are very comfortable with a large number of restaurants and eateries on the lower floors. The nearby town of Echigo Yuzawa has many cultural experiences including a large sake tasting area, onsens and shopping district.

  • Naeba is 2.5 hours from Tokyo station
  • Easy to access
  • Two interconnected ski areas
  • Good all-round resort
  • Wide choice of restaurants
  • Night skiing

Naeba Ski ResortLotte Arai

This self-contained ski resort is one of the more modern resorts in Japan due to the complete refurbishment in completed 2017. The Lotte Arai ski area has a very generous amount of off-piste skiing in large open bowls, as well as a mix of intermediate and beginner groomed runs. This mix means that advanced riders can get fresh powder all day while those with less experience can develop their skills quickly. The terrain is generally not steep but is the perfect pitch for the kind of powder snow that falls here.

There is one central hotel with luxuriously modern rooms and services without the premium price tag. Guests can access onsens, indoor swimming pools, an adventure centre, various restaurants and lots of on and off-snow activities making Lotte Arai one of the best ski resorts in Japan.

  • Lotte Arai is just over two hours from Tokyo station
  • A large off-piste powder skiing area
  • Excellent services, rental & ski school
  • Modern hotel
  • Great for families
  • Great for powder hounds looking for comfort

Lotte Arai Ski ResortMadarao

The up-and-coming resort of Madarao has so far been somewhat of a hidden gem with mostly return guests making the pilgrimage each year.

The ski resort of Madarao is composed of two interlinked resorts, and has a generous amount of off-piste tree runs across both areas for riders to enjoy. These tree runs are what brings people here as the powder snow is consistently light and dry, with excellent terrain easily accessible from the chairlifts. There are many beginner, and intermediate ski runs as well on the lower slopes for riders to progress on before taking on the powder.

  • Madarao is 3.5 hours from Narita Airport (Tokyo)
  • Excellent off-piste tree skiing
  • Excellent powder snow
  • Quiet resort
  • Not much village atmosphere
  • Freeride terrain park

Madarao


Are you ready to start planning your Japan winter escape? Contact the experienced team at SkiJapan today!

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How to get to Hakuba

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With good snowfall, a wide variety of ski resorts and long ski runs, Hakuba is one of the most popular winter destinations in Japan. Being located just 3 hours from downtown Tokyo makes it a great place to visit for snow travellers. The best options for Hakuba transport are by private taxi, shuttle bus, bullet train, or direct train.

Private Taxi

Duration: Approx 4.5 to 6 hours depending on traffic

A private taxi is the most convenient method of Hakuba transport with great flexibility to meet you whenever your flight arrives at Tokyo airport. It might sound expensive, but in a large group, it can work out to be reasonable. Prices are around ¥15,780 per person one way (at the time of writing) in the most economical scenario.

Shuttle Bus

Duration: Approx. 6 hours

Shuttle busses frequently operate from both Tokyo airports to Hakuba ski resorts and can be quite convenient if you have ski bags and luggage. If your flight lines up with a shuttle bus schedule, then this could be a great option if you don’t want to organise a private taxi. Cost of the shuttle bus is from around ¥9,900 per person one way at the time of writing and must be booked well in advance.

Shinkansen

Duration: Approx. 2.5 hours

A little bit more complicated, but certainly the fastest method is to get the Shinkansen (bullet train). From either Haneda or Narita, you need to make your way to Tokyo train station in the heart of the city (often a train is the best option), then get on the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Nagano. At Nagano train station follow the signs to the bus terminal, and find stop number 26 and buy a ticket to Happo bus terminal in Hakuba. The total cost is around ¥12,600 per person one way.

Getting to your Hotel

Once you arrive, most Hakuba accommodation providers will be able to pick you up, but make sure to ask in advance. SkiJapan.com consultants can arrange everything for you, and if you’re staying at the Hakuba Gateway Hotel or the Grand Phenix Hakuba, a SkiJapan.com van and rep will be there waiting for you.

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Walk through the Hakuba Gateway Hotel

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The Hakuba Gateway Hotel is an affordable hotel located in Hakuba that’s a quick five-minute walk to Happo One lifts and is right next to restaurants, resort shuttles and public buses. The hotel has 18 comfortable rooms which all include kitchenettes, wi-fi, lockers and free laundry services. All guests staying in the hotel also receive complimentary breakfast each morning, and as of the 2019/20, FREE ski and snowboard rental from NBS Hakuba on the ground floor of the hotel. The hotel is also located just a few minutes’ walk from the new Hakuba accommodation Grand Phenix Hakuba.

Rooms

Each room features two large beds, making for a very comfortable stay for two people. The rooms also have an additional fold out couch suitable for kids – should the need arise.

All rooms in the hotel are identical and face the Happo-One slopes which are just a short walk away.

Tours

The hotel’s reception is also a tour desk, so visitors to the area can book an extensive range of tours and activities directly at the hotel’s reception. Recommended tours in the area are the Nagano Snow Monkey Tour (run by Sanroku Tours), and a visit to Matsumoto Castle.

Rental & Retail

NBS is one of the most recognised and experienced snowsports & rental shops from Hokkaido, where they already have three established locations. For personal service and a huge range of skis all visitors to the area can now get Hakuba ski rental at NBS Hakuba. NBS Hakuba also retails goggles, gloves and outerwear, while upstairs there’s local retailer “G-Rally” stocking a range of outdoor products. For the 2019/20 season, every guest of the hotel will receive FREE rental during their stay at NBS Hakuba.

Physiotherapist & Massage

The hotel also hosts Altitude Physiotherapy; Australia’s leading snowsports focused physiotherapist. The Altitude team is led by Winter Olympic physiotherapist Peter Caine who brings more than 20 years’ experience in the snowsports industry. Peter and the team have worked with countless elite athletes to get them back on the snow quickly and safely. Altitude’s services include general physiotherapy, massage and consultation to help manage and prevent sports injuries.

 

Harvest Café

The comfortable and warm Harvest Café is the place to go for amazing wood-fired pizzas and a range of a la carte dishes. This is a great place to hang out after a long day on the slopes while eating some of the best pizza in the area.

The Gateway to Hakuba

The once humble hotel is now undoubtedly a real hub for visitors to the area with tonnes of services all under one roof. Book your dream holiday and stay in the most central hotel in Hakuba with SkiJapan.com.

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Guide to multi-resort passes in Japan

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Epic Pass

One of the world’s biggest multi resort passes is the Epic Pass with offers at 69 resorts worldwide including two of Japans biggest resorts – Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu. Holders of the Epic Pass can receive one 5 Day lift pass at both resorts with no blackout dates. That’s a total of 10 free days riding in Japan – which is a huge saving for pass holders visiting both resorts on a single trip. With no blackout dates holders can choose any dates they want and possibly even have a stopover in the middle of the trip. The Epic Pass price is $939, and the Epic Australia Pass is $859 AUD.

Ikon Pass

The IKON pass is another North American based pass provider, offering access to 38 destination resorts across the globe. In Japan, this pass can be used at the popular resort of Niseko United. Holders of the Ikon pass can get 7 free All Mountain 1 day tickets – with no blackout periods. The Ikon base pass will get you 5 free All Mountain 1 day tickets with some blackout dates (December 26-31, 2019; January 18-19, 2020; February 15-16, 2020). Day tickets from either pass can be used either consecutively or non-consecutively offering great freedom for pass holders. If there’s a rare down-day in the powder capital, you can take a break and visit nearby Sapporo, or Otaru. The Ikon Pass is $949 USD and the Ikon Base Pass is $649 USD.

Mountain Collective

The Mountain Collective is a worldwide pass, with participating resorts in the USA, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Pass holders receive one 2 Day Lift Pass with a bonus third day at any participating resort of their choice, as well as 50% off all additional days at any resort. The powder mecca of Niseko United is one of the best destinations available on the pass, with no blackout dates. The Mountain Collective Pass is $449 USD.

Kamori “K-Winter” Pass

Rusutsu, Sahoro, Sapporo Teine, and Nakayama Toge are some of the best resorts in Japan, and it’s possible to ride them all with just one pass. Hokkaido based operator Kamori Kanko runs all 4 legendary resorts, and their offering of the K-Winter Pass provides holders with great flexibility to ride them all season long. Pass holders can get unlimited riding at 4 major resorts at a reasonable price, plus more discounts on additional lift passes, rental, lessons and even some accommodation. Pass holders can also get 50% off lift tickets at many Vail Resorts, adding huge value to the pass. The K-Winter pass is ¥74,700 for the standard pass, and can be registered for in advance (attracts an early bird discount) by emailing the company directly, or can be purchased directly at any of the four resorts.

Hokkaido Ski Season Net

The Hokkaido Ski Season Net discount system is one of the most underrated and underused discount system for Japanese ski resorts. Season pass holders at any of the participating resorts can get discounts of up to ¥2,400 off day passes, plus a huge number of other various discounts and bonuses. This discount system includes some major resorts like Furano, Tomamu and Kiroro as well as some undiscovered local gems like Kamui Ski Links. The full list including all discounts can be found here. Season pass holders simply need to show their season pass at the ticket counter at participating resorts to receive the discounts.

Niseko All Mountain Pass

4 Resorts, 1 mountain – it’s that simple. That is the beauty of Niseko United. Skiers just need one lift pass and can access all four resorts of Niseko United which are all interconnected. This opens up a huge amount of terrain and makes it feel like all four resorts are really one in the same. Niseko has some of the best powder snow on the planet, and great terrain to match – so it makes sense to have just one pass to access all of it. The Niseko All Mountain Pass is ¥115,600 making it one of the more expensive passes on the list, but with world class, high quality snow on offer every day, it’s not hard to make the decision.

Hakuba Valley Pass

The Hakuba Valley is home to 10 different resorts including the legendary Happo-One (host of the Free Ridge World Tour), Tsugaike-Kogen, Goryu 47, and Cortina. With so many great resorts to explore, you might just need all season to see them all. Happo-One is one of the best locations and the Hakuba Gateway Hotel offers This Hakuba Valley season pass is ¥130,000 making it one of the more expensive passes, but with access to 10 major resorts it actually does pose good value.

 

Pass Resorts Price Benefits
Epic Pass Hakuba Valley, Rusutsu $939 USD for USA Epic Pass
$859 AUD for Epic Australia Pass
One free 5 Consecutive Day Lift Pass at Rusutsu. One free 5 Consecutive Day Lift Pass at Hakuba Valley. No blackout dates.
Ikon Pass Niseko United $949 USD for Ikon Pass.
$649 USD for Ikon Base Pass.
Ikon Pass holders receive up to 7 free all mountain 1 Day Tickets and 10 X 25% off 1 Day Tickets. Ikon Base pass holders receive 5 free all mountain 1 Day Tickets, and 8 X 25% off 1 Day Tickets.
Mountain Collective Niseko United $449 USD One free 2 Day Lift Pass. Holders can purchase unlimited 50% off 1 Day Tickets. Holders may purchase one 5 Day Ticket at 50% off.
Kamori “K-Winter” Pass Rusutsu Resort, Sahoro Resort, Sapporo Teine, Nakayama Toge ¥74,700 Unlimited skiing at any of the mentioned ski resorts. Up to 30% off additional day passes, ski lessons and rental. Free access to lounges, ski lockers, bathing facilities, and more (for Gold and Premium pass holders).  50% off lift tickets at Vail resorts in the USA and Australia.
Hokkaido Ski Season Net – Chart of Discounts 23 Hokaido Resorts ¥25,000 – Canmore Season Pass (Cheapest Season Pass) Holders of a season pass at listed resorts will receive discounts at 23 different ski resorts across Hokkaido. Up to ¥2,400 off day passes.
Niseko All Mountain Pass Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, Hanazono ¥115,600 – Season Pass Unlimited skiing at all Niseko United resorts.
Hakuba Valley Pass All 10 Hakuba Valley Resorts ¥130,000 – Season Pass Unlimited skiing at 10 Individual resorts in Hakuba. 50% off lift tickets at Vail resorts in the USA and Australia.

Benefits of Booking Early

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Savings

One of the most obvious and best benefits to booking a Japan ski holiday early is the savings. Most resorts and accommodations offer early bird specials with significant discounts for the whole season. If you want to ski Japan and save, make sure to keep an eye out for early bird announcements. For a full list of active great deals, check out our Japan deals page.

Availability and Choice of Accommodation

Japan is one of the top ski destinations in the world, and the hottest accommodations tend to book out well before the snow starts to fall. By booking in advance, you can choose the resort you want, with the dates you want, at the time you want – making for the best ski holiday of your life.

Book for the Best Snow

Japan is renowned for its great snow all season, so you can book a Japan ski holiday well in advance without having to worry. If you’re after the deepest powder, aim for January and early February as these periods often have the most significant snowfalls.

Time to Plan Even More

By booking in advance, you’ll have time to plan even more adventures on your trip. Japan is home to some of the most unique cultural spots in the world. Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka are just some of the best known and host stunning temples, shrines, mountains and more. Ask us about booking a stopover to one of these amazing cities during your trip.

Relax

Knowing you have your dream ski holiday sorted, you can now relax and focus on getting your mind and body ready for the best trip of your life. We can organise everything from your flights, accommodation, lessons, rental, lift passes, transfers and more.
For the best and easiest ski holiday of your life, the SkiJapan family today.

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Guide to Skiing Japan in March

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March is the unsung hero of the ski season, especially in Japan. There are no crowds, stunning weather, and the chance of some serious Japow (yes even in March). There’s also the sweetener of reduced rates on accommodation, lift passes and there’s so much more to love.

Hokkaido

With so much snow falling across the island, Hokkaido’s ski resorts are among the best to visit in March. With a great snow depth, the snow cover lasts a long time right into May. There is also the occasional full-on powder day just like in the middle of winter – since the snow cover is already good, all it needs is a top-up of powder for some fantastic riding.

As well as good snow, there are some awesome events in some of the big resorts. Hanazono in Niseko is hosting Banked Slalom and Slopestyle events this year, and Hirafu has hosted some of the best park days of the season with events like the Mad Dog Jam in previous years. As the season moves further into spring, there are even more things to do in Niseko – check out our guide to Niseko in spring for more.

March also sees much of the crowds dispersed, so you can expect much quieter streets, less competition for booking at Niseko’s famous restaurants and a very relaxed atmosphere. The snow that falls in March also lasts longer with far fewer people getting out there to carve it up.

Honshu

The Japanese Alps of Honshu are home to some of the highest peaks in Japan, but in the midst of winter, many of them are inaccessible due to the wind, poor visibility, unstable snowpack or frigid weather conditions. With March bringing clearer weather, riding Honshu’s legendary peaks starts to become more attainable giving adventurers the ride of their life.

With a generally high altitude, most major resorts in Honshu retain good quality snow up high well into the end of March and even April. Even with the sunshine expected in March, the high altitudes mean the temperatures stay low keeping the snow soft and light. Happo One resort in Hakuba Valley offers great lift access to a vast backcountry area with some of the best terrain in the country.

As is typical in shoulder seasons, hotel rates are quite low, and some already affordable hotels become even more tempting with significantly reduced rates. The Hakuba Gateway Hotel in central Happo is one the best choices with onsite rental, restaurant and massage. There’s also the Hakuba Goryukan Hotel which features an onsite onsen. Read more about the best way to see Hakuba here.

Some of the best places to soak in the culture are also in Honshu – Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka and Kanazawa are all easily accessible from the mountainous regions of Japan’s most central island. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is one of the fastest and best ways to get around Japan’s major cities in Honshu with affordable tickets and regular schedule. March is one of the best times of year to visit the cultural hot spots, with fresh, calm and generally clear weather making stopovers in these areas a great choice.

Sakura

A trip to Japan at this time of year is a great time to see Japan’s famous “Sakura” (Cherry Blossom) trees in bloom. Japan’s southern city of Fukuoka will receive the bloom in mid-March, so there’s no better way to top off a trip to Japan than with cherry blossoms after a week on the slopes.

Find out more about Japan’s Sakura season here.

If you’ve been inspired to visit Japan in March, contact our team of experts, and we’ll start you on your journey.

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Sakura – The Symbol of Spring

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Japanese cherry blossoms, or sakura, have been regarded as a symbol of spring since the Heian Period (794-1185). The charming flower symbolises renewal, vitality, and beauty and is deeply ingrained in the art, literature and culture of Japan.

When the blooms arrive it’s time to indulge in one of the nation’s favourite pastimes; hanami, or flower appreciation picnics. Every year, crowds of people flock to parks, gardens and riversides to eat, drink, and be merry underneath the blooms.

During the short period when sakura is in bloom, you can find spring limited edition ice cream, chocolate, sweets and drinks all inspired by sakura!

When to visit?

Japan’s sakura season for 2019 has been recently released by Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC). According to the forecast, cherry trees are expected to be in full bloom in Tokyo on March 31, Kyoto on April 3, Hakodate on May 6 and Sapporo on May 8. Stay up to date with JMC’s Cherry Blossom Forecast here.

Sakura at Shinjuku Gyoen. Photo Credit: Tatters at Flickr

Tokyo

One of the nation’s most stunning gardens is undoubtedly Shinjuku Gyoen, a large park located a short stroll away from Shinjuku and Shibuya. Originally built for the Imperial Family, the park features beautifully maintained gardens divided into Japanese, French and English sections.

Another lovely spot is Ueno-koen (Ueno Park), one of the oldest and most famous public spaces, cherished amongst locals for their 1000-plus blossoming cherry trees. After dark, you can enjoy a nocturnal hanami experience as the blossoms are lit up with a thousand lanterns.

When to go: Late March

Tetsugaku no michi. Photo credit: fastjapan.com

Kyoto

The ancient capital of Kyoto makes the ideal backdrop for cherry blossom appreciation.

Tetsugaku no michi (Path of Philosophy) is a lovely stone walkway that meanders 2km along the bank of a cherry lined canal through the northern part of the city’s Higashiyama district. Other famous hanami locations include Maruyama Park, known for its weeping cherry tree, Heian Shrine and the Arashiyama district on the outskirts of the city.

When to go: Early April

Hakodate

The best place to experience the beautiful colours of the sakura in Hokkaido would have to be Fort Goryokaku – a star-shaped, Western-style citadel which was built towards the end of the Edo Period. Since then over one thousand cherry trees along its moats were planted, making it one of Hokkaido’s best hanami spots.

When to go: Early May

Former Hokkaido Government Office. Photo credit: www.sapporo.travel

 

Sapporo

The prime cherry blossom viewing spots are Maruyama Park and the adjacent Hokkaido-Jingu (Hokkaido shrine). The shrine grounds hold 1,200 cherry trees as well as 250 plum trees which bloom at the same time.

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, head to the former Hokkaido Government Office, which offers aesthetically pleasing photo-ops!

Located on the outskirts of Sapporo, Moerenuma Park is a unique and playful public park designed by renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Containing an art gallery, kids playground and sakura forest where you can see over 2,300 trees in bloom.

When to go: Early May

Ski Resorts

With many northern Japanese ski resorts such as Niseko and Kiroro scheduled to stay open until Golden Week (first week of May), spring visitors have the chance to hit the best of Japan’s spring and winter both at once! Read more on spring skiing in Niseko.

If you’re visiting Niseko resort, one of the best places to see the sakura is on the south side of Mt. Yotei in Makkari campground. There’s also the Makkari Shinto shrine nearby, with an avenue lined with beautiful sakura trees.

Near Hakuba there is the ancient Matsumoto Castle, which is surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms. During the bloom, the stark black and white of the castle offers an elegant contrast against the soft pink of the sakura petals.

If you’re dreaming of a hanami and ski holiday this springtime, contact us today.

Après Skiing in Japan – What to do after a day on the slopes

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Skiing in Japan is fantastic, but one of the best things about a winter holiday is the rest and relaxation and nowhere does that better than Japan. The nightlife in Japan’s resorts is a mixture of traditional, modern Japanese culture with some international influence thrown in for good measure.

NIGHTLIFE

When you head out for a night out on the town in a Japanese ski resort, you can expect traditional sake, famous whiskeys, and creative cocktails. Most resorts have great bars and Izakayas, and the popular resort of Niseko is no exception with dozens of restaurants and fun spots to get a drink. Sake is the most well-known Japanese drink, but there’s also Umeshu, Nikka Whiskey, Sapporo Classic and many more local favourites which should definitely be sampled.

ONSENS

After a day on the slopes, there’s nothing better than getting out of your boots and into a hot steamy onsen. Mountain regions in Japan are often volcanically active providing the perfect opportunity for some fantastic natural onsens. A visit to a Japanese ski resort is never complete without an onsen visit. Take a look at this onsen guide for more info about onsens, especially in Niseko.

FOOD

Japanese food is among the best in the world, and there’s no better way to get warm than a hot bowl of ramen. Other winter favourites are katsu-don (pork cutlet on rice), soup curry and yakitori. No trip to Japan is complete without a sushi experience, and winter is said to be the best time of the year for the freshest fish. If you’re going to Niseko, make sure to check out Kutchan dining guide here.

There’s so much to see and do in Japan, both on and off the slopes. If you want to make the most of your winter, talk to our Japan ski experts today. Contact us here and get started on your Japan winter experience.

Guide to Kutchan Dining – Eating out in Hokkaido’s Snowiest Town

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The food in Japan is unlike anywhere else on earth and is a huge drawcard for travellers from across the globe. Niseko is known for having some of the best restaurants of any ski town in Japan, but you might be surprised that there are even more, great restaurants right next door in the town of Kutchan.

Kutchan is one of Hokkaido’s snowiest towns, and hosts around a hundred different restaurants – all offering something different, and each charming in their own way. Getting to Kutchan is easy, simply get a bus from the main bus stop in Hirafu or the Hirafu Welcome centre.

Modern – Sekka Lab

Sekka Lab is one of Kutchan’s most modern dining experiences, offering elegant dishes that embrace locally grown produce as well as the best of Hokkaido’s famous seafood. The omakase course (chef’s choice) is always a great choice with five of the best dishes chosen by the head chef himself. Sekka Lab is located on the main street that runs perpendicular to Kutchan’s JR station.

International – Taj Mahal

Niseko is a very international town, and with that comes excellent international food! Taj Mahal is an Indian restaurant serving authentic Indian curry alongside freshly baked naan bread. An absolute crowd pleaser with lots of options including vegan-friendly curries. They have two main branches – one halfway between Hirafu and Kutchan on Route 5, and another in Annupuri.

Bar – Seventh Heaven

There is no shortage of bars in Kutchan, but one of the most fun and lively is Seventh Heaven. There’s darts, beer and even nomihodai (all you can drink) on offer with incredibly friendly and accommodating staff on hand to refill your glass as often as you like. Located in Kutchan’s central nightlife district, this fun bar is one to remember.

Sushi – Sato

Hokkaido is said to have the best seafood in all of Japan, and there’s no better way to enjoy fresh fish than with sushi. Sato is easily one of the best sushi restaurants in the Niseko area, and even recently was listed on the Michelin guide. The omakase set is highly recommended, with the chef selecting only the best and freshest cuts of sushi.

Ramen – Nakama Ramen

Nakama Ramen is a local favourite, with slices of juicy, thick cut roast pork with a hearty broth and delicious noodles. They offer the usual ramen flavours (salt, soy and miso) as well as signature flavours such as ume (plum), and a spicy broth. They also have homemade gyoza (dumpling) including kimchi gyoza – definitely a must try. Find Nakama Ramen on Ekimae Avenue, perpendicular to the Kutchan JR station.

Soup Curry – Markie Curry

Soup Curry is Hokkaido’s signature dish, and is hugely popular for its unique flavours and ability to warm you from the inside out – perfect for winter! One of Kutchan’s best and only dedicated soup curry restaurant is Markie Curry, located on Route 5 right near M Pocket supermarket. In Hirafu, soup curry can be found at Tsubara Tsubara in Izumikyo. This unique dish is highly recommended for any visitor to Hokkaido.

Hotcakes – Za Hotcakes

Za Hotcakes is one of the coolest restaurants in town. The tiny store makes both sweet and savoury hotcakes, delicately prepared and infused with unique flavours influenced by the four seasons. This cosy store is a must visit if you’re after something sweet, unique, and even a new Instagram post. Za Hotcakes is located right near Kutchan JR station on the main street.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcKEPcaFote/

Burgers – Paddy Daddy

Great burgers are a global favourite; no matter where you’re from, you can’t say “no” to a good burger. Patty Daddy is Kutchan’s dedicated burger store with a cosy interior decorated in Americana and offers a range of unique and delicious burgers. They make all the meat patties in-house, and offer craft beers on tap. Find Patty Daddy’s just north of Kutchan JR station near the 711.

Fusion – Bagus Café

While Kutchan might be a small town, it is full of locals who love international travel, surfing, snowboarding and all the great things life has to offer. Bagus Café offers a fusion of Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine; the food inspired by a love of surfing and a relaxed lifestyle. This restaurant is a favourite, so try to book in advance. Bagus Café is located in the heart of Kutchan’s nightlife district.

Discover Japan’s best food on an unforgettable ski holiday. Talk to our excellent team today and find out how great it is. Contact us today.