Hakuba Sanosaka


Hakuba Sanosaka

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Hakuba Sanosaka Snow Resort

Hakuba Sanosaka is a small and friendly family-oriented ski area set in a gorgeous location at the edge of Hakuba with absolutely no crowds. Hakuba Sanosaka Snow Resort is one of the Hakuba Valley ski resorts and under new management. Sitting at the southern end of the valley and just above Lake Aokiko, little Sanosaka Ski Resort has some decent services on offer including the only surface lift in the valley, on-snow fireside après ski, fantastic views of the lake, and skiing with dogs, yes—dogs. These real-life powder hounds love to ride the lift as well. Grab your furry friend and head on over to Hakuba Sanosaka. 

Pros and Cons of Sanosaka

  • Hands down Sanosaka offers the best views of Lake Aokiko in the entire valley.
  • Hakuba Sanosaka Snow Resort has a decent amount of cruising terrain perfect for intermediates and high end beginners.
  • This is the only resort in the Hakuba Valley where you can leash your dog and let man’s best friend run down the slope with you skiing right beside the lil’ powder pup.
  • You can enjoy après ski next to an outdoor fireplace with live music and warm jaffles.
  • Hakuba Sanosaka is no longer connected with Kashimayari Ski Resort via Sun Alpina Aokiko Ski Resort because Aokiko is currently closed, so the amount of terrain and lift accessible side country has been significantly reduced.
  • Sanosaka Ski Resort can suffer from a lack of snow cover and quality because it is situated at a lower elevation than some of the other resorts in the Hakuba Valley.
  • There is not much terrain on offer for expert riders nor first timers, although a new beginner tow lift may alleviate the latter somewhat.
  • The upper lifts may or may not be open on weekdays.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Sanosaka has a small powder area, and even with low crowds, the fresh snow gets tracked out fairly quickly as the area is not super large.
  • Sanosaka has remained a traditional Japanese area, so whilst it is easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the busier places in the valley, there is no nightlife to speak of.
  • There is no English speaking ski school at the hill.

Sanosaka Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Hakuba Sanosaka Snow Resort is quite small with only 5 runs, 6 lifts and just 460m of vertical (1,200m-740m). If you get tired easily, this may be the place for you! This is the perfect resort for a day trip to experience the beautiful nature that Hakuba has to offer. Additionally, the lack of cat-tracks and abundance of groomed intermediate runs makes it a good place for high end beginners and intermediates to up their game.

Unfortunately Hakuba Sanosaka is no longer linked to Kashimayari because the resort in between (Aokiko) has closed down. Sun Alpina Aokiko Ski Resort can be accessed by hiking into the resort via Kashimayari or Sanosaka if one is so inclined.

The terrain stats are pretty accurate for Sanosaka, with the beginner runs listed as 40% (green), 40% intermediate (red) and 20% advanced (black), although perhaps the intermediate runs are a little under-represented.

In the past, Hakuba Sanosaka was known in Japanese ski circles as the place in the valley to go if you wanted to learn how to freestyle ski. There were two dedicated Olympic style mogul runs complete with two freestyle jumps in the bumps, but they have since been reduced to basically bump runs. The resort still does have a dedicated mogul/freestyle skiing school and you can see these (painful looking) lessons happening from time to time around the resort.

Lift lines, even on the busiest of days, are completely non-existent. The only time you might wait in a lift line at Sanosaka would be to stop and pat a dog, yet even with the lack of crowds, the Japow won’t stay untracked for very long simply because Sanosaka isn’t very big. Nevertheless, if you really search it out, fresh snow can still be found, even in the afternoons, as most Japanese skiers at Sanosaka come to ski the bumps—just one of the glorious gifts Japan has to offer hungry powder hounds: afternoon freshies.

Where is Sanosaka?

Formerly called Sun Alpina Hakuba Sanosaka, Hakuba Sanosaka Snow Resort is located in Nagano Prefecture just five kilometres east of Hakuba Goryu and ten kilometres west of Kashimayari with Lake Aokiko smack in the middle. Although still technically in Hakuba, it sits just on the border with Omachi Town and the local Oito train line runs right through the bottom of the resort. Watch out for trains when you cross over the tracks between the parking lot and the main base.

Sanosaka is a snap to get to with their frequent free shuttle buses that loop around nearly all of the Hakuba Valley.

Or if you’ve got wheels there is ample parking at the main base as well as some spots at the base of lift number three. Coming from the north, just drive past the turn off to Goryu and go for another 5km, and you’ll see Sanosaka right off the main road. Coming from Omachi in the south, do not turn to go to central Hakuba but stay on the main road and you’ll see Sanosaka on your left.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could walk the 15 minutes from Minami-Kamishiro train station, or take a taxi. There is a Seven-Eleven convenience store along the way that offers the closest ATM to the resort.

Sanosaka Accommodation

Around Sanosaka in the Sano village are a number of traditional and authentic Japanese style pensions that run a bit cheaper than some of the busier areas around Hakuba, but they are a little far removed. There isn’t any true ski in/ski out accommodation, but you can get extremely close to the ski hill with most of them. Settei Ski Hutte (Japanese only) is a beautiful log cabin building set amongst the tall cedar trees with a free to use kitchen. It’s only 160m (2 mins walk) from the base area of Sanosaka Snow Resort.

Most folks will day trip to Sanosaka and stay in other Hakuba accommodation zones such as Happo, Wadano or Echoland.

Hakuba Accommodation Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

Castor Plaza at the main base has a number of facilities for day trippers including ski and snowboard amenities, upgraded equipment rentals, lockers and storage. There is also a Japanese ski school run that offers lessons in mogul/freestyle skiing and telemarking in addition to regular lessons. Hopefully your Japanese language skills are up to scratch.

Although daycare is not available, if you bring your own babysitter, there is a kids’ room available for the children to play in.

The main restaurant in Castor Plaza has had an overhaul and thankfully has some small deviations from the normal Japanese ski chalet fare of ramen and curry.

Above lift number two, there is a little cafe with a cute atmosphere called Capella that serves meals based around cheese. The cafe serves Italian pastas, cheese plates and has some delicious wine and beer pairings. It’s a great place to stop for a drink or a quick bite. The view is fantastic, and dogs are allowed inside the cafe, albeit in a small enclosed seating area of their own. You might need a doggy bag!

Very exciting for powder hounds and après ski enthusiasts alike is the foreign run “Chairlift Bar”. Sitting outside the plaza at the main base, this little outdoor shelter on the snow has old chairlift seats, a fireplace, cold drinks, warm jaffles, and a friendly atmosphere. On weekends, you’ll find live music here until the sun goes down, so enjoy a few drinks around the fire and then take the free shuttle home.


Sanosaka has opened up a number of activities for families and individuals including snow shoe tours and a “raft ride” pulled behind a snowmobile. On weekends and national holidays there are also nature tours for kids available. On these tours, a local guide will walk you around the resort and basically you learn a bit about the great outdoors and have fun romping in the snow.

Lastly, if you want a bit of culture and exploring, just across the street from the main parking lot is a nature park that is open all year round. You can hike in and find a fresh spring that always has moving water and eventually becomes the head water of the Himekawa river. Wildlife is abundant and the scenery is extremely peaceful (even a bit magical) in amongst the trees and small Japanese shrines—a great place for a snowy stroll with your sweetie. Ah puppy love…
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