Ski and Snowboard Resort List – Tohoku

It has been difficult for me to find a comprehensive list of ski resorts in Japan, in English, with functioning links.

Until now…

Well, for Tohoku at least. I have finished a massive project, organizing all of my snowboarding research into 6 spreadsheets (SPREADSHEETS ARE SO INTERESTING) that you can sort with links to all the active websites I could find (websites which, unfortunately, are mostly in Japanese).

Zao Eboshi

If you have solid Japanese skills or the patience to use your web browser’s translate function you can use Snoway.com, my most frequented source for information but Snoway is still incomplete. Also, before you hop in a car or on a train, I would verify directly with the ski resort that they are actually still in business. Post 2011, many of these places have had trouble getting skis and boards on the mountain and tourism in general is depressed all around Tohoku, particularly in Miyagi and Fukushima.

Spring Valley - IzumiThese lists are not complete. Many of the ski resorts in Japan are small municipal parks with or family owned. My research method consisted of cross referencing wikipedia.jp, snoway.com, snowjapan.comskijapan.com and area searches on google maps. It is likely that I missed a small resort or two. If you know of any that aren’t on the list that are cool and worth checking out please send them along or leave the info in the comments. More over, I have included ski trail map links to the larger places.

All that being said, this is likely the most comprehensive list you will find in English.

MIYAGI – You can check out my in depth reviews of Zao Eboshi Zao Sumikawa and Spring Valley.

Trail Maps: Zao EboshiZao SumikawaZao ShiroishiZao ShichikashukuSpring Valley

YAMAGATA

Trail Maps: Zao OnsenYonezawa – RitsukoTengendaiAsahigatakeJangle Jungle

IWATE

Trail Maps: Appi-KogenShizukuishiHachimantaiGeto8OkunakayamaAmari OnsenIwate KogenHiraniwa

AKITA

Trail Maps: Tazawako – JeunesseOpas TaiheizanDaisen Odai

AOMORI

Trail Maps: Naqua ShirokamiOwaniMoya Hills – Hakkouda

FUKUSHIMA

Trail Maps: Alts Bandai – Inawashiro – Takatsue – Numajiri – Hatoriko – Daikura – Minowa – Nekoma – Takahata – Nango – Grand Sunpia – Adatarakogen

There you go. I hope you get out on the mountain and shred some serious pow!

If you want to the whole list in in excel format: Tohoku Snow Project

Miyagi Zao Eboshi – In the long run…

In the Miyagi area the snow resorts tend to be on the small side. Smaller mountains, lower elevations, less chair lifts and lower prices than what I was used to California. Zao Eboshi is similar but for one key element. From the top of the resort to the bottom there is a 4,300m run. You must be asking yourself, “How does a resort with a maximum elevation of 1,350 meters have a run that is longer than the distance from the peak of Mt. Fuji to the bottom?” The answer is simple. It’s flat.

Zao EboshiThere are three maybe four decently steep sections of Eboshi. The furthest left lift off of the main gondola (if you are facing the mountain) will take you all the way to the top of the resort. From there, right before the mogul field you can cut over to your right and there is a good steep section of un-groomed snow there (2-3 on the course guide). I would not recommend going off piste near the top as the chairs are about head height. Also from the top is the start of the 4,300 meter run which winds its way down the left side of the mountain if you are facing East. About a quarter of the way down, to the right there is an off shoot that has a short diamond run (1-3) that is the steepest area of the mountain. From there you can circle back around to the a single seat lift at the bottom of the run. As you exit the single chair lift, to your right there is a decent area for tree skiing. I saw others going out that way and that slope leads back to the gondola house. Finally there is run 10. It has a Japanese name but… yeah it’s number 10. Run number 10 was my favorite run. It was challenging, it had terrain, it was decently steep in parts and had deep snow.

Anything besides those three areas is basically a green run. A beginner snowboarder may have some serious trouble if they are unable to maintain speed through long flat and slightly uphill sections of the lower half of the mountain and the 4,300m run. The run that spits out directly in to the gondola entrance is mild but has a decent grade if you made it there from 1,000m run of flat traverse that precedes it. There are two parks for the tricksters, a small one on the top half of the mountain and a large one on the bottom half.Zao Eboshi

Getting to Zao Eboshi is an absolute breeze. There is a bus that for 4,800円 includes round trip fare and an all day lift ticket. You must make reservations a day in advance, I was able to make the reservation in English. The girl on the other end didn’t speak it well, but she was able to understand me. It leaves Sendai station at 8:00AM and also has pickups at Izumi-chuo and Nagamachi-minami stations. The bus pick up isn’t too obvious at Sendai station. Common sense would tell you it would be near the other buses, but this is wrong. It’s actually to the left of the taxi stand on the first floor, West exit, door 13. The bus arrives around 9:30 giving you the majority of the day to ski or board. The return trip from the resort leaves the mountain at 4:30 (16:30). You pay your whole fair on the bus in cash and the nice lady will give you a lift ticket when you leave the bus. If you are south of Sendai this resort is easier to get to than Spring Valley and less money if you can take the bus (or drive). If you are north of Sendai, I would head to Spring Valley instead because they are basically the same ski resort.

For being a Saturday the place was not very busy, which was awesome. I never had to wait longer than a minute or so to get on any lift. There are also three resorts of similar size within a few minutes drive of each other, so that may help spread out the crowds. The other resorts are Miyagi Zao Sumikawa, Miyagi Zao Shiroishi and Miyagi Zao Shichikashuku. Storage King Noble’s Headgear (literal translation of Zao Eboshi’s name) suffers from one major issue and two minor ones. The major issue is that their lifts are too long and slow. I consistently found myself thinking that for as short as the good runs were, I was spending a lot of time in the lift. While I was on the lift I kept thinking, “this is inordinately slow.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the lifts to go too fast. The single seat lift seemed to the quickest turn around with the best run.

always with the moguls...

always with the moguls…

The first minor issue is that two of the three best runs were closed for the later half of a Saturday. One closure was for a competition. One of the better runs was open all day but there was a slalom course school going on. I shouldn’t complain about a closure for safety but I’m going to anyway. The number 6 run has a steep drop into a crevice that acts as a natural half pipe with turns. They gated it off in the afternoon because it got too warm and the snow wasn’t holding. The other minor issue was weather related. In the late afternoon some cloud cover rolled in and immediately the top half of the mountain became an ice skating rink instead of a ski runs. I had read as much on some other sites like snowjapan and ski japan but it seems to be a consistent problem at Eboshi.

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I have yet to see a “bowl” at any of the Japanese resorts thus far, something I quite liked in Lake Tahoe. The boarding hasn’t been bad and the snow has been relatively good. Even at Happo-one which is my favorite thus far, I wasn’t really blown away. Eboshi’s 4,300m run was plastered all over the ski resort. The ideal of Japanese skiing is either destroying your knees on moguls or cruising along at leisurely pace for extended periods of time. Both of these things are not great for snowboarders. On skis it’s not that bad, but when snowboarding it can be a real drag to get stuck on a long flat area and have to hoof it out to the nearest grade. My advice for Zao Eboshi is to maintain speed and go to the steep stuff early before it closes.

Hakuba, Japan – A pricey winter getaway.

Hakuba has earned it status as an ideal winter getaway in Japan partly due to its Olympic history, its regular snowfall and its atmosphere. Mostly popular with Australians, you’re more likely to hear “G’day,” than, “Konnichiwa,” walking around Hakuba city. Like many resort towns, there are numerous money pits with which to throw your hard earned money into, outside of snowboarding or skiing being terribly expensive hobbies.

Hakuba at just before sunrise

Hakuba at just before sunrise

Getting to and from Hakuba is best done by bus, as there are no direct trains. The price of the shinkansen ticket to Nagano city will be astronomical on top of 3 hours of regular train fare to arrive in Hakuba. From Narita, Haneda and Shinjuku, Tokyo there are multiple bus services that offer 10,000円 round trip tickets to Hakuba. You can read more about Keio Dentetsu bus service here, which is what I used.

Probably the biggest money drain in Hakuba are taxis. If you recall from our summer vacation posts, taxis in Japan are expensive. A trip from Hakuba station to your hotel could run you between 2,000円 and 3,000円 on the low end. Not to mention there aren’t really enough cabs in peak season for everyone staying Hakuba, so there is usually a wait. In the ice and snow the cabs are constantly slipping and spinning their wheels which we surmised also increased the cab fare, but have no idea by how much. The expensive cab fare compounds with the fact that regardless of the time of day, convenient public transportation is nearly non-existent.

hakuba BnBThere is a train line that has 3 major stops in Hakuba: Iimori station, Hakuba station and Shinanomoriue station. However one glance at the time table for the Oito line and you will defer to other methods of transport. Moreover, the train line in Hakuba isn’t really anywhere near most of the resorts. We stayed just West of Iimori station and it wasn’t a bad walk to the Bn’B, but it was impossible to get to Iimori station by train between 12:30PM and 3:00PM without taking the train 3 stops North to go one stop South.

As far as buses go, there are a couple different “options.” If you are staying within the center of Hakuba, near either Happo town or Echoland, there is a free shuttle, IF and only if, you have skiing or snowboard gear. The free shuttles work in a loop and spoke system through the center of town focusing on hotels and the Happo town information center and stop running around 5PM. There is only one shuttle in the morning from Hakuba station (8:05AM) and it is not really at the station, it picks up across the street from a travel agency here. Some of the nicer hotels will run their own shuttles but be prepared to be confined to the area you stay in unless you are heading to the mountain itself or the Happo-town information center, the only two places with regular bus stops at regular intervals throughout the day, if you are skier or boarder.

The second bus is called the Genki Go bus, it is 300円 per person, one way and has the most stops of any bus in Hakuba, even going all the way down to Iimori area for a couple pick up spots. However, it only comes 3 times an evening at the further out spots and stops running between 9PM and 10PM. So if you want to stay out late and enjoy the night life of Happo or Echoland, you’re taking a taxi back to the hotel or walking.

Since we stayed in Iimori, we were subject to some of the worst of the transportation difficulties that would have been alleviated by staying in a more central location. Our room and board was quite cheap as far as resort towns go (3,500円 per night) but the cafe where we stayed had maybe the most expensive beer in all of Japan. 500円 for a small Asahi was a little steep but since Iimori is at the far south end of town there wasn’t really anywhere else to sit around the fire and have a beer. Not that our hostel had a fire anyway.

It’s become an expectation, particularly in the US and Australia that food and drink ON the mountain is going to be costly. They got you by the short hairs, who wants to leave the mountain and carry their gear around when they could eat right here by the lift? One of the most pleasant surprises in Japan is that food on the mountain in Hakuba was actually cheaper than food in the town. For about 1300円 I got a massive plate of curry and a beer at 47 & Goryu, although we can argue the intelligence of getting a curry while snowboarding, you can’t argue with the price. It’s not cheap but its not insane like the $12 to $15 you pay at a place like Northstar at Tahoe for an awful hamburger. At Happo-one it was even less expensive. For 1000円 I got a massive bowl of ramen and a side of rice, later I bought a 500mL beer for 500円. Where am I going with this? Oh yeah, food off the mountain: Dig deep, it’s pricey. Everywhere we went, particularly drink prices were in the 600円 to 1000円 range and even small plates were hard to come by for less than           600円.

Luckily we met some friends to help us find a decently priced izakaya but still managed to spend a boatload because, well, we ate too much. DUCK YAKITORI. I REPEAT, DUCK YAKITORI. Anyways, food is expensive, particularly in Happo-town and at the base of the mountain. Places like Uncle Steven’s were jam packed, with an hour plus wait to sit, relatively small portions  and a bill that will run you at least 3,000円 a person. Most places were really busy but that’s peak season in a resort town anywhere in the world.izakaya in Hakuba

onsen hakuba

Juuronoyu

There are many onsens in the Hakuba area and I tried to enjoy the local onsen in Iimori called Juuronoyu (十郎の湯). Thankfully we had a coupon to use that brought the price down but as onsens go Juuronoyu was a little pricey (although the beer was cheaper there than it was the bed and breakfast we stayed at). On an unrelated but equally annoying note to exorbitant costs, my nice towel was stolen at the onsen. Theft, particularly petty theft, is highly uncommon in Japan, especially outside of the major cities. The fact that my wallet, hotel key, clothes and wedding ring were all left unmolested but my towel vanished made me think someone just forgot their towel and thought mine would do. Never mind that onsens are nude public baths and there aren’t spare towels just lying around. Luckily I had walked down there with a linguist from Reno who was fluent in Japanese, and he was able to get me two small towels as gifts from the onsen. To this day, I can’t get over having my towel stolen from the locker room of trust that is an onsen. I even stuck around the onsen a while to see if anyone was stupid enough to toss their ill gotten gain over their shoulders on their way out. Sadly, my revenge will have to wait.

My opinion of Hakuba is like a gemini horoscope, two sided. It may be stupid to expect anything else other than highway robbery when staying in a resort town. That’s fair, I understand. It doesn’t mean I have to like it or think its cool. The snowboarding was fantastic. Some of the best I have had. Still not on par with Snowbird, Mt. Bachelor or Kirkwood but it was certainly better than most. If you head to Hakuba, be prepared to be milked for all your worth, and for that matter make sure you really enjoy the snow because you’ll be paying for it.

Linkstravaganza: 1/1/2014 – 1/24/2014

In 2014, Easy Distance will bring you the most interesting things we came across out there in the dangerous wilderness of the internets. This is our inaugural link collection post so it covers the first three weeks of January and is really, really, long. After this it will be on a regular schedule of every other week.

*puts on sunglasses*

Deal with it.

January 1st to January 24th 2014

Adventure

Japan

Earth Camp has an event coming up Feb 8th and 9th.  You can read about my Earth Camp experience on Japan Travel here. Featured in many Earth Camp tours is the out of this world onsen at Hotel Kanyo.

Easy Distance brought you write ups of Hakuba 47 & Goryu and Happo-one this month.
Japan Travel has a write up of Happo-one as well and here is a great top 5 Japanese winter resorts list from Rocket News.Hakuba Panorama

Muza-chan published this delightful story of samurai romance in Kyoto.

Easy Distance also added Yamadera to the Atlas Obscura in January. A true must see if you visit Tohoku.

Not Japan

Asia
Andaman seaRead this harrowing tale of environmental ignorance from our Love and Travel series
Sink or Swim…

South America
Benjamin Trotter completed his trip through South America in December, check out his travel writing here.

Nicaragua: Take a dungeon tour with Jennette and Doug from JD Expats

North America
California: Go postal in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Europe
France: Check out the ante chamber to the guillotine and place where Van Gogh painted his most renown work from the Atlas Obscura.

Check out our Pintrest, too: Been There, Done That.

ESL

ISPYEasy Distance’s Lessons Learned this month featured the game BLOCK! It’s like Scattergories but with less gore… you don’t play with swords then? Oh, this is awkward.

Cornish Kylie lets us in on a lesson with Onoma… onomatonope… hmmm BANG… WOOF WOOF! What was that!? *mumble mumble*, Thailand.

An interesting read from the opinion column of Japan Times regarding the drawbacks of teaching for a large conversation school in Japan. Can’t say I disagree…

Cooking

Mapo dofuMapo dofu is Cooking in the shower’s dish of the month.
Check out the recipe for some other mapo dofu links!

Also if you’re looking for a good pasta salad, I’ve been making this one a lot!

Humor & Cool Stuff

Man this looks so sick. Sorry to bro out for a second but this video looks awesome.
Trailer for Lines of Control and Epic TV skiing adventure Kashmir

From Rocket News, a write up on a single’s kotatsu… major frownies.

InrovertJapan.com has an interesting and mouth watering look at Japanese culture… via sandwich?

There is always the Easy Distance tumblr for your mostly daily bits of randomness from Japan.

Until two weeks from now…

Two days at Happo-one Winter Resort – Hakuba, Japan

Hakuba Panorama

Since I watched the 1998 Nagano Olympics I had wanted to ski in Japan. I was still too young in 1994 for the Lillehammer games to have much effect on me. The ’96 summer games in Atlanta and the ’98 winter games had a lasting effect on me and my fondness for sport. Recently, the dream of skiing (although transmorgrified to snowboarding) in Nagano, Japan came true with my trip Hakuba. I spent three days shredding some of the best snow in Japan and my favorite of those days were at Happo-one. Hint: you can look less like a bumbling tourist if you remember to pronounce it Happo Ouneh, not Happo “1.” It wasn’t a revelation that Happo would be a great place to board, as it is considered one of the top five places in all of Japan to engage in winter activities. Anyway you slide down the hill, Happo-one is world class.

Despite the aforementioned propensity of Japanese resorts for large mogul fields, the crew at Happo divided many of the more difficult runs in to half and half. Nearly all of the runs are wide enough to accommodate a regular groomed run and a mogul area which, as a snowboarder I found to be a great benefit. There is also tremendous amount of variety at Happo, from super long intermediate runs that link the whole mountain together to a Riesen Grat course with a stunning view and some out of bounds boarding that goes right back to the lift. Depending on what is open, there are 24 total lifts at Happo, some runs that were decently steep but a majority of the runs are easy going and most boarders should be able to handle them without too much trouble. Click here for the Happo-one trail map.

white out happoMy first day there was pretty limited due to weather. Happo is known for being a tad temperamental weather wise. The top half of the mountain was closed in the morning and in the afternoon when they opened the lifts, the visibility was still so low that it was impossible to see more than fifteen meters downhill. I stayed below the cloud cover for most of that day and enjoyed right hand side of the mountain until I tried to make a final run from the peak down to the main gondola. The visibility was still so bad at about 3:30PM that I ended up on the exact opposite side of the mountain from where I had wanted to go. Whoops.

The next day on the other hand was mostly pure “blue bird” after some heavy snowfall over night. I was so absolutely stoked to get to the hill first thing in the morning that I walked to the lift from Hakuba station instead of waiting for the bus. I got there at 7:20AM for the first gondola up and I managed to get six nearly untouched runs in before people started to invade the privacy of my own private snowboarding fantasy. I got to the top lift without ever waiting and managed to slice some freshies into the off-piste area before it got really tracked up later in the afternoon.

Off the Riesen Grat course at the top is a small out of bounds area that was also the sight of a most spectacular fail-turned-awesome. I was going at full clip when my front toe edge caught in a deep pile, causing me to cartwheel head over lead foot. As I came through the second rotation of the tumble, the back of my board stuck into the powder like a shovel. It stuck in so deep that it suspended me standing up, perpendicular, my board angling out at nearly 90° to the slope. I was so impressed with my accidental landing that I had to laugh and take a deep breath before I could keep going down the run.

Happo screen grabThis is also where I have to register a minor complaint with Happo-one. The exit to the top most lift has some of the best views of the area at around 6,000 ft. and on a really nice day it can be crowded with skiers and boarders who don’t know it at the time, but are going to have a rough go of it to get down. There are only three ways to get off the top: out of bounds, olympic caliber mogul field, or chair lift. Needless to say, the top of the run was riddled with people just standing around trying to figure out what to do with their current predicament or collecting stuff from their most recent “yard sale.” It says on their website that this is an intermediate course, but then has a double black diamond next to it… soooooo, yeeeeeahh.

The food on the mountain was excellent, I stopped and had ramen around 10:30AM, hoping to beat the lunch rush and then be on the mountain when everyone was taking a break. There is also a cafe just outside the top of the Alpine quad with decent coffee and cheap muffins. No ski resort’s food or drink is ever reasonably priced but despite being a world famous destination, Happo was relatively inexpensive in the beer and food department. 500¥ for a big beer is a pretty good price, all things considered.

I didn’t stay near the base of Happo, but I can tell you that area around the base seemed to have the most going on. If you can afford to stay in the hotels and ryokan in the Happo or Echoland area of Hakuba, I would recommend it. If you stay outside of that area, there is a free shuttle for skiers and snowboarders only that picks up at various locations throughout the city. Three different lifts at the base of Happo-one offer walking access from most of of the close hotels, but as I said earlier I walked from Hakuba station without too much effort.

local brew

local brew

As I was affixing my new 白馬八歩尾根 sticker to my snowboard, I made mental note of just how cool I felt having boarded there. Snowboarding is not a cheap hobby or an easy one, but I’m glad I made the most of this opportunity. For all of the difficulties in getting to around Hakuba without a car, and for that matter getting there from Sendai, it was totally worth it.

Now, if I could just talk Shana into believing that falling down a lot, being cold, and getting wet is really fun…

Cooking in the shower – Imoni, Nabe, and Shabu Shabu

Miyagi imoni

Miyagi imoni

I didn’t realize that Japan has so many hot pot dishes. All you ever see in the states is miso soup, ramen, and now a few chic Shabu Shabu spots. Sometimes you can find sukiyaki in the States. I never thought of Japanese cuisine having a lot of soups and stews until I moved here, and it wasn’t until fall of 2013 that I particularly noticed.

Our imoni host Tatsuya (left)

Our imoni host Tatsuya (left)

This was my first autumn in Japan, and living in Tohoku made me aware of a special dish from the area, imoni. Imoni is not only a dish, it is a time to cook with friends and family. It can best be related to the American tradition of Thanksgiving, which is non-existent in Japan (obviously, no pilgrims and such). I had the good fortune to be invited to an imoni party hosted by the Tohoku Gakuin International Club. On a clear, crisp day in October, a large group of students gathered in a park and cooked huge pots of stew for everyone to share. Miyagi imoni is made with miso and pork, Yamagata-style is soy sauce and beef. We tried both and had a wonderful time eating and chatting with lots of English majors in the club. Imoni is so important in Yamagata, that they often make a huge pot during their autumn festival, that can feed thousands of people. I’m not kidding. 30,000 servings.

Why am I cooking in the shower? It’s kind of a funny story…

For Christmas, we attended a nabe party. Nabe, or nabemono, is also a hot pot dish meant to be cooked in a group setting. Usually, a special burner is placed in one’s living room and the soup is cooked in a clay pot. While imoni is more of a hearty stew, nabe is a lighter broth in various flavors. Some key ingredients in imoni are potatoes, daikon, taro root, negi (Japanese onion) and konnyaku (a gelatinous mass of “yam” fiber unique to Japan). Nabe is lighter, with leafy cabbage, spouts, sliced carrot, enoki mushrooms and negi. A variation of nabe is chankonabe, also known as sumo stew because it is a traditional diet staple of the sumo wrestlers.

Not a clay pot, but it works

Not a clay pot, but it works

You can make the broth for nabe from scratch, or buy it at the grocery store. In winter, the stores in Japan stock tons of this stuff. A bag will run around $2-$3, and serves four, so I definitely recommend saving yourself the trouble and buying it. I don’t know about Asian grocers in the USA, but just look for something like this bag on the right:

Seafood nabe ingredients: mushroom, bok choy, carrot, tofu, scallop, clam, shrimp and fish

Seafood nabe: mushroom, bok choy, carrot, tofu, scallop, clam, shrimp and fish

The different flavors of nabe will determine what else you add in. Seafood broth will obviously compliment shrimp, scallops, fish or all three. Kimchi nabe is a little spicy, and works well with beef, pork or chicken. Tomato broth is delicious with just about anything, and I have seen onion and bean sprout flavors as well. Tofu is a nice addition, especially if you want a vegetarian nabe.

The best thing about making nabe is time, since it takes hardly any. Actual recipe: Heat the broth and toss in your choice of chopped veggie and meat. Stir occasionally. Serve hot.

The stores in Japan will also sell pre-packaged mixes of chopped vegetables, seafood and other collections of ingredients for nabe, so it is quite possibly the easiest dinner you can have. Traditionally, if you are eating the nabe with a group of people, you remove just the fillings, and leave most of the broth in the pot. Then you can throw in new ingredients to cook, while you enjoy the previous batch. Since I usually cook for just two, I treat the nabe more like soup and eat it broth and all. I also usually make a little rice to go on the side, but it’s not necessary. The next morning, I add the leftover rice to the pot and reheat the remaining soup for breakfast.

So far, my favorites have been tomato and kimchi broths with chicken. There are many different brands, but it seems that the slightly more expensive bags o’ broth ($3) have better flavor and are not quite as salty. We have this dish at least once a week now, when I don’t feel like cooking, and I’ve discovered a type of mushroom that Andrew will eat (enoki!) so it’s a win-win. Make a nabe pot for yourself tonight and experience a delicious and healthy taste of Japan.

いただきます (Itadakemasu)

Hakuba 47 and Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort

West, between the Iimori and Kamishiro stops on the JR Oito line sits Hakuba 47 and Hakuba Goryu. The mountain Jizonoatama is divided between the resorts and they are connected by a couple major lifts and a double diamond “Adventure Course” (Read: 6ft moguls). Recently I stayed at a bed and breakfast that was walking distance from one of the lifts at Goryu and I spent the whole day on the mountain.Hakuba 47 Panorama

A single ticket works for both sides of the mountain despite the fact that they are treated like separate ski resorts. There is a total of 19 lifts between the two sides and the single ticket will set you back 4800¥. That price is a little steep compared to Happo-one which is also 4800¥ but is nearly double the size. If you are used to the large sprawling resorts of Utah, Colorado and California, Goryu and 47 are more like 1 ski resort divided in half for marketing purposes. When the two sides of the mountain are put together they make a pretty decent resort. If you plan on staying for 2 to 5 days in the Hakuba area, there are 2,3, and 5 day passes that allow access to all mountains and are very economical.

Getting to 47 or Goryu isn’t particularly hard if you are skiing or snowboarding since there are free shuttles from around 8AM that operate from the Happo information center and some from the travel agency across from Hakuba station. If you want first runs and you didn’t stay right at the foot of the mountain then you will have to take taxi or catch the early, early train from Hakuba Stn to Iimori station and walk about 15 min to the chair lift.

Hakuba 47 selfieThe mountain itself isn’t particularly fast or steep but on the 47 side of the mountain there were several decent intermediate and one black diamond that was fast. I liked the black diamond because everyone, their mother, their mother’s cousin and their mother’s cousin’s friend were sticking to the intermediate runs. Also off the black diamond on the 47 side was an “off piste” area with some great tree runs if you are into that sort of thing. I’m not but who am I to board against the grain? For reasons that are unbeknownst to me, Japanese ski resorts really like to place mogul fields in places that they shouldn’t be. While not terribly difficult, a mogul course on an intermediate run is pretty obnoxious for a snowboarder.

The 47 side also has the snowboard park and it looked like the crazy people who enjoy falling on stuff from great heights were having a blast. Although the half pipe did not look well maintained.

The Goryu side was much more crowded than 47 side which is likely due to it being easier to get to the Goryu lifts. Getting to 47 takes about 30 minutes between boarding and chairlifts. Both sides did offer a way to get to the top and have a look out from the summit but I felt the best view was from about half way up on the 47 side where Happo-one was visible across the valley.View of Happo-one from Hakuba 47

Overall I would say that any intermediate boarder or skier would have a great day at Goryu and 47 but a more experienced one would likely be a little “board” with what the mountain has to offer. I found my self going down the same black diamond run a lot because it was empty and the other terrain that was more difficult was covered with moguls or filled with trees.view south from Hakuba Goryu