Hakkoda Ski Area

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Hakkoda Japan
Hakkoda Japan
Hakkoda Ropeway
Hakkoda Ropeway
Short skins open up huge amounts of terrain
Short skins open up huge amounts of terrain
Snow ghosts at Hakkoda
Snow ghosts at Hakkoda
One of the piste runs at the Hakkoda Ski Resort
One of the piste runs at the Hakkoda Ski Resort
Getting further afield at Hakkoda Japan
Getting further afield at Hakkoda Japan
Hakkoda has a series of mountains
Hakkoda has a series of mountains
Hakkoda backcountry skiing
Hakkoda backcountry skiing
Hakkoda Japan
Hakkoda Japan
Hakkoda is a giant backcountry playground
Hakkoda is a giant backcountry playground
Hakkoda Ropeway station
Hakkoda Ropeway station
Small snow ghosts at Hakkoda
Small snow ghosts at Hakkoda
The backcountry terrain at Hakkoda is vast
The backcountry terrain at Hakkoda is vast
Spring like snow at Hakkoda
Spring like snow at Hakkoda
The chair lift at the Hakkoda Ski Resort
The chair lift at the Hakkoda Ski Resort
Deep day on-piste at Hakkoda Ski Resort
Deep day on-piste at Hakkoda Ski Resort
Onsen on the west coast of Aomori
Onsen on the west coast of Aomori
You could stay in Aomori City & commute to Hakkoda
You could stay in Aomori City & commute to Hakkoda
Staying in Aomori City offers some nice cultural experiences
Staying in Aomori City offers some nice cultural experiences
Hakkoda backcountry terrain
Hakkoda backcountry terrain

Hakkoda Ski Area

Readers Ratings

Hakkoda

Hakkoda3/519
Hakkoda3 out of 5 based on 19 reviews
  • Recommend
    89%
  • Would Revisit
    89%
Japan Ski Tour Tohoku Area
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The Hakkoda Ski Resort in Japan is a powder skiing mecca. Hakkoda is not a ski resort in its usual form but rather the Hakkoda Ropeway provides lift assisted backcountry skiing and riding. This is a powder mountain (or series of mountains) where you can powder your nose, eat powder, snort powder – whatever takes your fancy!

Hakkoda (pronounced “Hakk-owe-dah”) was once the holy grail of skiing in Japan considering that it’s blessed with lots of snowfall and had absolutely no crowds. Like most phenomenal powder gems, Hakkoda Japan has now been discovered and queues for the ropeway can ensue on weekends, but there’s plenty of room to spread out and still lots of fresh lines.

Hakkoda Ski Resort attracts hardcore powder hounds who appreciate the joys of deep powder, off-piste riding and the backcountry. It also generally appeals to the hardcore who are intrigued by the infamous “danger” of Hakkoda. This area is well known amongst the Japanese for the ill fated soldiers that perished during ferocious blizzards in the early 20th century, and also a major avalanche incident in 2007.

Pros and Cons of Hakkoda Japan

Pros 
  • Hakkoda Japan is very well blessed by Puki Yuki the snow goddess, with average snow volumes in the realm of 17 metres per season.
  • The Hakkoda Ropeway provides access to mountains that are ringed by a road, so with minimal effort an abundance of terrain can be accessed.
  • There is plenty of space to spread out for fresh powder, and combined with the abundant snow, Hakkoda has the perfect ingredients for a great backcountry powder hound destination.
Cons
  • The massive volumes of snow come from foul weather, and at Hakkoda the storms are brutal and result in low visibility, high winds and closure of the Hakkoda Ropeway.
  • The weather turns quickly so there is a risk of getting caught in a storm when navigating the snow ghost tree wells, gullies and creeks becomes near impossible.
  • Self-navigation can be challenging and most people require a guide, yet the Hakkoda guiding is very tightly held by the locals. Finding a quality guide is difficult, let alone one that speaks English.
  • Queues for the Hakkoda Ropeway on weekends can be long, especially if the weather is nice.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • A lot of the Hakkoda ski terrain is not steep enough for waist deep powder, but if it was any steeper it would be even more avalanche prone considering the volumes of snow.
  • If you’re into gawking at snow monsters, the juhyo are at their finest from mid January to end of February, but there are plenty of stormy days where you might not be able to see anything! 

Hakkoda Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Hakkoda Ski Resort has some similarities to the Asahidake and Kurodake ski areas. Hakkoda ski area is primarily serviced by a ropeway. There are a couple of ungroomed runs (aka courses), whilst the rest of the area is one huge off-piste paradise with 666 metres of vertical drop (658 – 1,324m). Hakkoda is made up of eight mountains, and beyond the ropeway serviced slopes are extensive areas for backcountry enthusiasts.

In addition to the ropeway (cable car), the Hakkoda Ski Resort has a double chair, or romance chair as the Japanese love to call them (I’m not sure what the Japanese get up to on the chair lifts?)! This chair lift is owned by a different lift company and provides access to a small ski area with 3 trails. Even though these small groomed courses are for intermediates, overall, Hakkoda is not really a mountain well suited to inexperienced riders.

Thankfully Hakkoda is not one of those annoying Japan ski resorts where you’re prohibited from skiing off-piste. Of course you still have to do so at your own risk and take caution with the various backcountry hazards such as avalanches and tree wells. People frequently get lost, particularly during the white-outs near the top. The trails are not roped off and are only marked with the occasional pole, so hire a guide if you’re not an incredibly experienced backcountry skier or boarder.

Hakkoda Snow and Weather

Nearby Aomori boasts the most snowfall of any city its size in the world with 8 metres annually, so it’s not surprising that Hakkoda Ski Resort is renowned for abundant snowfall. The annual snowfall statistic for Hakkoda is unknown, but a guesstimate would put the snowfall in the vicinity of 14-20 metres per season.

Due to its northerly position, the Hakkoda snow quality is much lighter than at some Honshu ski resorts further south, but it’s not quite as fluffy as the snow in Hokkaido, in part due to its proximity to the sea.

Hakkoda Japan is well known for the frequent disgusting weather and blizzards, particularly in January and February. Obviously all that snow doesn’t fall from blue skies, but on the plus side, the infrequent bluebird days keep the crowds away which results in fresh pow for powder hounds. The harsh weather conditions and high precipitation also form the spectacular juhyo (snow monsters aka snow ghosts).

Where is Hakkoda Japan?

Hakkoda is located in Aomori Prefecture, the most northern part of Honshu, Japan’s main island.

Getting to Hakkoda is much easier now because there’s a new 3 to 3.5 hour bullet train from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori. From the Shin-Aomori Station it is a 45 minute drive to the Sanroku Ropeway Station at the base of the Hakkoda ski area, or a 60 minute bus ride. Aomori also has an airport.

Hakkoda Accommodation

There are a couple of on-mountain Hakkoda accommodation options at the base of the ropeway as well as a couple of very good Hakkoda hotels just a short drive away (shuttles provided between hotels and Hakkoda Ropeway).

Alternatively there is off-mountain accommodation which is much more affordable. You could stay in a Kuroishi hotel (30km from the ropeway) which is a half way point between Hakkoda and Aomori Spring Resort, and gives you options when the fickle Hakkoda weather shuts down the ropeway. Or you could stay in the city of Aomori (21km away) which offers a good range of evening dining and drinking options.

Accommodation options:

Facilities & Nightlife

Hakkoda has a few restaurants for daytime dining. Limited ski and snowboard rental equipment is available and there is a ski school, although this is typically only used by the Japanese. Hakkoda is not a family friendly ski area, with negligible facilities available for kids.

You don’t go to Hakkoda for the nightlife because it pretty much consists of an onsen, dinner and whatever fun you can make yourself at your hotel with drinks from the vending machine. Chances are that you’ll be so tired from the skiing or snowboarding that you’ll be happy to go to bed early.

Activities

If the ropeway closes or you want a rest from skiing or boarding, there aren’t too many alternate activities at Hakkoda. The famous Sukayu Onsen is a short drive from Hakkoda; a very large historic onsen with mixed bathing, so it’s not for the prudish although the milky water is opaque. There are also gender segregated baths.
Tours That May Include Hakkoda

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Frontier Explorer
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow, and also experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu.
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 4,300
View Details
 
Tohoku Yuki
GUIDED ROAD TRIP NORTHERN TOHOKU
8 Nights | 7 Days Skiing | Up to 7 Ski Areas
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
This hosted & guided road trip travels to the northern reaches of Tohoku and includes off the beaten track powder areas such as Zao Onsen, Tazawako, Appi Kogen, Geto Kogen, Aomori Spring & Hakkoda.
Price p/p From price is per person based twin/-share for 2021 group tour
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen inclusive of tax
*Display price may vary slightly due to fluctuation in exchange rates.
AUD 4,973
View Details
 
Northern Powder Odyssey
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN TOHOKU
7 Nights | 6 Days Guided Skiing
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Get off-the-beaten track in Northern Tohoku where there are abundant lines of fresh powder and negligible foreigners! Visit Northern Tohoku ski areas you've probably never heard of before and immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 2,990
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Hakkoda here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Northern Tohoku Powder Tour
HAKKODA & HACHIMANTAI BC
3 Nights | 2 Days Backountry Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Experience a day of backcountry skiing at Hakkoda in Aomori and then a day of BC at Appi Kogen. Tour includes transport, accommodation, most meals & guiding. If the dates for the fixed date tour don't suit, you can book this as a private group tour for 4 - 10 guests (subject to availability)
Price p/p Sample price based on twin-share accommodation.
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen & may vary depending on dates
Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 2,143
View Details
 
Tohoku Backcountry Tour
LIFTS + TOURING BACKCOUNTRY
8 Nights | 7 Days Skiing/Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Head to Northern Tohoku on this lift accessed backcountry tour where you'll use the lifts as well as touring gear to score the best powder. This region provides an authentic Japanese cultural experience & lots of historic onsen. Share
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share mixed-group tour for 2021.
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese yen inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 5,054
View Details
 Early bird special: 10% off listed prices if you book before Sept 30. Refund if travel ban or quarantine is in-force. See T&Cs.
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Hakkoda here
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