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Hakuba Ski Resort Guide

HAKUBA SKI RESORT GUIDE

AOKIKO/KIZAKIKO LAKE AREA

As you drive or take the train from Omachi, before entering Hakuba, there are three resorts around Lake Aokiko, plus Yanaba, which is just up the road. The Aokiko resorts used to share one ticket but, unfortunately, not any more. The resorts are quiet and relaxing and a good place for kids, where you can enjoy fine views of Lake Aokiko.

ALPINA KASHIMAYARI

The largest of the Aokiko resorts is usually to open with a short single course of man-made snow. The resort has easy access via a back road from Omachi. W: www.kashimayari.net

AOKIKO RESORT

The middle of the three Aokiko resorts recently opened a new mountain bike course for the green season. W: www.aokiko.net

HAKUBA SANOSAKA

Sanosaka has a mogul school and a popular annual big air competition. In summer it also features a water jump. W: www.sanosaka.com

YANABA

Where everyone goes to “steez” (show off) and learn how to ride the park. Easy to get to by train, as it is right next to Yanaba Station. The crowd is mostly snowboarders who come for arguably Hakuba’s best park, which is separated into three levels. W: www.yanaba.co.jp

CENTRAL HAKUBA

GORYU TO-OMI

Escal Plaza at Goryu is the best base lodge in Hakuba. There is a ski/snowboard rental shop, three restaurants (including a Subway) and even an ofuro (bath) open until 9 p.m. daily. If you’re on a really tight budget, there is also a “resting room” where you can get some rest for 1,000. Hours: 11:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. with space for 100 people (no reservations for the common room; first come, first serve). W: www.hakubagoryu.com/ski/index.html

HAKUBA 47

The numbers in the resort’s name apparently represent “four seasons” and “seven days a week.” Friendly staff in the gondola parking lot wearing neon pink cowgirl hats will direct you where you need to go. Early bird season tickets make this a popular resort for locals. W: www.hakuba47.co.jp

HAPPO-ONE

Huge terrain and waist-deep powder. Some of the best views of Hakuba Valley can be seen from the higher lifts. Telemark boots and skis can be rented at 500 Mile at the Usagidaira 109 complex at the top of the Happo-One gondola. W: www.hakuba-happo.or.jp

HAKUBA IWATAKE

Iwatake is a great place to go to get away from the crowds. There are a lot of beginner runs but also powder runs to be had out back, and lift lines are short. W: www.hakuba.jp/iwatake/snow/index.html

ACROSS THE VALLEY

On the eastern side of the Hakuba Valley are two smaller resorts great for families and beginners.

HAKUBA MINEKATA:

Minekata has just three pair-lifts, but it’s quiet, uncrowded and has wide runs and nice views. Also a great cross-country park. W: www.hakuba-minekata.com

HAKUBA HIGHLAND:

This family resort has just two lifts and is next to the Hakuba Highland Hotel. The best part is the rotemburo (outdoor bath), which has one of the top views of the Hakuba Valley. Opens Dec. 23. W: www.hakuba-highland.net

NORTH OF HAKUBA & OTARI

HAKUBA CORTINA KOKUSAI

This is the perfect resort for a romantic weekend. The northern European architecture of the Green Plaza Hotel is breathtaking, and the complex is massive. The Ikenota Slope right outside the door is very, very gentle and perfect for couples practicing their ski and snowboard turns. There is a free shuttle from Nagano Station for guests (reservation required). There are also some steeper runs and Cortina gets plenty of snow. W: www.hgp.co.jp

HAKUBA NORIKURA ONSEN RESORT

Not to be confused with another mountain called Norikura Kogen in the South Alps. Hakuba Norikura Onsen Resort’s intermediate-level courses cover half the mountain, and the resort has practically no lift lines even on weekends. W: www.hakubanorikura.jp

TSUGAIKE KOGEN:

A veritable fortress of a ski resort, Tsugaike Kogen offers a diverse terrain. The Children’s Square is great for kids just starting out on the slopes. There’s a terrain park at the top of the resort, a cross-country course and heli-skiing is available in spring (9,500 per person). Cross-country set rental available for a full day at Spicy Rental, located close to the Tsugaike gondola. W: www.tsugaike.gr.jp

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