Best skiing in Hakuba Valley: Top 4 Nagano ski resorts in Japan

Nov 03, 2022 BY AWE365 Team

With Japan opening it’s borders properly for the first time since Covid, we can start planning to make the most of the incredible Japow again. With that in mind we’ve pulled together the best skiing in Hakuba Valley – one of the most popular areas. So check out the top 4 Nagano ski resorts in Japan below, you could visit all four during a single trip.

The Nagano Prefecture is in the centre of Honshu Island, the main (and largest) of the 7,000 Japanese islands. Hakuba Valley is in the northern Japanese Alps and is linked to Tokyo by bullet trains taking three to four hours. The Valley contains three of the 10 best Japan ski/snowboard resorts, so it’s a great winter sports destination.

10 reasons to book a Japan ski holiday this winter Flickr image by Roderick Eime

Best skiing in Hakuba Valley

Top 4 Nagano ski resorts in Japan

Is gliding through open bowls of powder your idea of a dream day on the mountain? Then the resorts of Hakuba have plenty of spots that will make you a very happy skier or snowboarder! Written by a local, these are the top picks of the best ski resorts in Hakuba Valley.

Hakuba Iwatake

Iwatake Mountain Resort’s back bowls are usually pretty quiet compared with the other parts of the resort. There are four different routes to choose from to get down to the View Pair lift. This is a fun area to do laps and try all the different ways down. Although fairly short runs, they are a lot of fun. And as the lift name suggests, the mountain views are quite simply phenomenal.

Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort one of the top 4 Nagano ski resorts in Japan.
Iwatake Mountain Resort Map

Also check out the Hikage Powder Zone, leading down to the Sawa lift. This is super fun on a powder day and usually very quiet too. You’ll see from the piste map that Iwatake Mountain Resort is unique in that you can ski down all sides of the mountain from the summit.


For long and open skiing, you can’t beat Skyline at Happo-One Ski Resort. It’s a local favourite on a powder day and with good reason! Happo’s Skyline course is wide and long, but also features some interesting terrain, with cat tracks to the skier’s left, ridges to have fun and pop off half way down, and some small tree sections on the skier’s right.

Happo-One some of the best skiing in Hakuba Valley Photo by Happo One Ski Resort
Skyline at Happo-One. Photo: Happo-One Ski Resort

For the more adventurous and experienced, the gated self-responsibility Omusubi off-piste route is a fantastic wide open powder heaven! You can access it from the Skyline course.

Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort

Sometimes everyone is far too excited at the prospect of Cortina’s famous tree skiing. This means that the resort’s amazing open slopes are overlooked.

Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort one of the top 4 Nagano ski resorts in Japan. Photo by Sarah Mulholland from Japan Ski Experience
Hakuba Cortina Ski Resort Photo by Sarah Mulholland

So, when the lifts open on a powder day, why not head straight for the pistes first and then enjoy the trees afterwards. After-all, can you really beat wide open deep powder?!

Tsugaike Mountain Resort

One of the Hakuba Valley’s largest resorts with some of the best skiing in Hakuba Valley. Tsugaike boasts lots of wide open runs to enjoy and is certainly one of the top Nagano ski resorts in Japan.

Tsugaike Mountain Resort some of the best skiing in Hakuba Valley Photo by Sarah Mulholland from Japan Ski Experience
Tsugaike Mountain Resort. Photo by Sarah Mulholland

Our favourite is at the top of the mountain, where you can stop for a few minutes and enjoy one of the best views in the valley, before skiing or snowboarding down the mountain. Take the gondola to the top, followed by the Tsuga No. 2 pair lift and from here enjoy the wonderful views and wide open run below.

We hope you found this guide to the best ski resorts in Hakuba Valley useful. Check out these Japan skiing holidays and Japan snowboarding holidays if you wish to book a trip.

Cortina Hakuba, Hakuba, Happo-One, Honshu, Iwatake, Japan, Japanese Alps, Nagano, Tsugaike
Skiing, Snowboarding
Freeride, japow, Powder
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