Norikura Lifts & Terrain

Norikura Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    850– 1,598 (748)
  • Average Snow Fall
    11  metres
  • Lifts (9)
    1 triple
    8 doubles
  • Ski Hours
    mid Dec - early April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 14
    Longest run – 2.5 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced - 20%

Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Area

The Norikura Onsen Ski Resort is a small ski area and even though the total vertical is 748 metres, most of the runs are much shorter than this. The Hakuba Norikura ski area is spread out horizontally which extends across two main zones. The Wakaguri zone sits above the Hakuba Alps Hotel and is the main part of the ski resort, whilst the Satomi area is smaller. Adjacent to Satomi is the little Warabidaira area which is officially part of Hakuba Cortina, but with the dual Nortina (Norikura and Cortina) pass, you don’t need to worry about where the boundary is.


Norikura Onsen itself has 9 chair lifts (plus a magic carpet for tubing), most of which are double chairs. Three of the double chairs are fast without being turbo-charged, which are located right near the Hakuba Alps Hotel (Wakaguri area). The lifts are numbered 1 to 11 (don’t spend too much time looking for #2 and don’t expect #7 to operate).

The new Alps #11 chair extends up the ridge near the top of the #5 lift to an elevation of 1,598 metres. It is open 9am to 2pm and only as conditions allow. Terrain serviced by the lift is considered backcountry and outside the ski resort management responsibility. You need to have your avalanche beacon, shovel and probe, and register your intent and sign your life away with the staff at the base of the lift. They’ll provide you with an armband that you need to wear to ride the lift. At the end of the day, you must return the armband to a ski patrol box near the base of #5 lift.

Lift Tickets

A combined Hakuba Norikura and Cortina lift pass is reasonably inexpensive. Alternatively you could purchase a multi-day Hakuba Valley pass which is more expensive, but it’s advantageous if you’ll mostly be riding other Hakuba ski resorts and if you want to use the Hakuba Valley bus service.

Riding both Norikura and Cortina on the one day is also possible if you have an Epic Pass. See the Hakuba skiing page for more information.

In addition to day passes, single ride and 4 hour tickets can also be purchased. Kids tickets are for ages 6 to 12, whilst seniors are 60+.


Norikura still remains quieter on a powder day than the frenzied Cortina, especially with the powder-chasing-sans-avalanche-gear peeps. It’s growing in popularity however, and with the Epic Pass and the new lift, Norikura is likely to gain more traction with powder hounds.

If you’re not chasing powder, Hakuba Norikura Onsen Ski Resort is incredibly quiet and lift lines will not be a problem.

Norikura Snow

The northern end of Hakuba Valley gets more snow out of most storm cycles, although the snowfall statistics for Norikura (and Cortina) don’t really reflect it. Nevertheless, 11 metres of snow per season is impressive and many European ski resorts would be ecstatic if they received that much snow!

The Norikura snow quality is very good although it has a couple of detractors which can play out when the temperatures warm up a little. Most of the slopes are southeast to south facing, which is lovely for the beginners but not as ideal for powder hounds. One time we visited, a couple of the treeless off-piste slopes sat squarely in the sun and had big glide cracks, avalanche debris and general chumpiness. Another minor con for snow quality is the elevation in the main part of the ski area, which is a bit lower than a few of the other Hakuba ski resorts. However, in the height of winter, the snow quantity and quality are likely to be very good to excellent.

Beginner Skiing Norikura Onsen

The beginner terrain at Norikura Onsen is brilliant, and to make progressions more obvious, the courses are rated as “beginner” or “advanced beginner”. The easiest runs are near the Hakuba Alps Hotel.

Intermediate Snowboarding/Skiing Norikura

Low-end intermediates may enjoy some of the “advanced beginner” runs, and high-end intermediates will be able to ski the few black runs which are pretty mellow. In terms of official red runs (intermediate), there are only four short runs which will get boring very quickly. Cortina doesn’t offer that much for intermediates either – it could be time to hit the off-piste!

Terrain Park

Norikura has a terrain park adjacent to lift no. 5, including a half pipe or two. There is also supposed to be a border cross course but none of these have been established when we’ve visited.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste Norikura

As is typical at most Japanese ski resorts, the black courses are snoringly boring. There are only three blink-and-you’ll-miss-them black runs, an established mogul course if you’ve got strong knees, and a few double black aka “ultimate courses” which are not very steep with maximum gradients of 30, 35 & 38 degrees. The latter is Sky View Slope which is wide open and a party run on a powder morning. The biggest challenge of the Sky View Slope is probably getting on the fixed grip chair lift which they may have amped up.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Norikura Onsen and the neighbouring Cortina are reasonably progressive when it comes to off-piste skiing, with designated “self-responsibility areas”. In addition to self-responsibility zones, the trail map also indicates “off-limits” areas that are probably in place due to the many solar aspects (keep your eyes peeled for glide cracks). Some of the off-limits areas are tiny and in the absence of fences and signage, you may be left wondering where they are. We didn’t experience any grief from the ski patrollers about straying into the wrong areas, but then we didn’t actually see any ski patrollers. Hmmm…

Most of the off-piste skiing at Norikura consists of short shots, and there is some nice tree skiing.


In addition to the sidecountry between Cortina and Norikura, and the undulating zones to skier’s right of the #10 chair, the main lift accessed backcountry at Hakuba Norikura is that off the #11 chair lift. There is a myriad of options left or right off the ridge, many of which include steep trees and small drop-offs. In time, this terrain may become in-bounds patrolled terrain when the resort adds the course, but either way, it’s steep backcountry style terrain that should be treated as such.

Norikura Onsen also provides nice access to the backcountry proper for those with a touring set-up, particularly in the zones between Tsugaike and Norikura. Hakuba is a backcountry haven and if you want the services of a Hakuba guide to take you to the good spots, you’ll need to book this well in advance.