Lifts & Terrain

  • Vertical (m)
    740 – 1,200 (460)
  • Average Snow Fall
    10  metres
  • Lifts (6)
    2 quads
    3 doubles
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - late March
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 5
    Longest run – 2.1 km
    Beginner - 40%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 20%

Sanosaka Ski Resort Terrain

At its heart, Sanosaka Ski Resort is essentially a small ski area in an incredible location and a good place for intermediates to cruise the corduroy. Sanosaka is easy to navigate and a big treat is the “Lake-Down Run” where you are allowed to take your dog, or ski with other people’s dogs. This area is the southern most slope and overlooks the lake which offers picturesque winter views. This run also doubles as the “easy park”, so if you’re looking for some smaller hits and rails, then this is your kind of place. Further out, a little side-country can be found underneath the tall pines if you’re willing to seek it out.

In the centre of the Sanosaka Ski Resort, there are some steeper green and mellower red runs for high-end beginners to improve their skills. Here you can ski the entire resort in the fall line. A bigger drawcard for powder hounds is the new gladed and lift accessible powder area underneath lift three.

Directly in front of the main base, keeping up with the Japanese professional mogul skiers will keep on-piste advanced riders painfully busy. Also, next to the base is a tow lift for beginners.

As of 2018-19, Hakuba Sanosaka came under new management and the Blue Resort Group is looking to attract the foreign crowd with new services and shredding opportunities available to riders looking for something different in the well-trodden valley.

The Sanosaka snow can be very good, but most powder hounds will be left wanting in the steepness department at Hakuba Sanosaka. So when it’s snowing cats and dogs, we’d recommend heading over to some of the steeper resorts in the valley such as Happo and Cortina.


Sanosaka has a relatively small lift infrastructure. Previously serviced by just four lifts, pair lift number one has re-opened and there’s a new Poma surface tow lift in the beginner area. The surface lift is perfect for children and beginners to get their L planks moving. This is the only surface lift in the entire Hakuba Valley and is a welcome addition to the Sanosaka repertoire. Of the five other lifts, there are two relatively fast quads and three old clunker pairs, but none of the lifts seem to be excessively slow, in part because none of them are very long.

There is no night skiing at Sanosaka Ski Resort.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are relatively cheap compared to other resorts in the valley. Sanosaka is also included on the Hakuba Valley lift pass as well as in one of the included days if you have an Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass or Epic Australia pass. The Sanosaka shuttle buses are also free for everyone to use and are frequent around Hakuba.

Sanosaka Snow

With a maximum elevation of 1,200m, Hakuba Sanosaka doesn’t get as much snowfall as the northern Hakuba valley resorts, but there is sometimes a “lake effect” where storms tend to hover over the lake, pick up moisture and dump fresh snow for a longer period of time than on some of the other resorts.

With respect to snow quality, most of Sanosaka has a good aspect and the snow at the edges of the runs near the tall trees is well-protected from the afternoon sun as most of them are shady pine and cedar trees. These trees also make for a very pleasant viewing experience reminiscent of many North American resorts.

Sanosaka Skiing for the Beginner

Sanosaka Ski Resort isn’t particularly well suited to first-timers although the new beginners tow lift is definitely a welcome addition. Right next to the plaza at the main base is a super mellow, albeit quite small, beginners’ area where the tow lift is. Once the beginners can ride that, they will need to up their game, get on the quad and try something a bit steeper. It would be better if there was a progression step in between, but you have to just give it a crack at some point.

Intermediate Skiing Sanosaka Hakuba

With 40% (if not more) of the piste dedicated to intermediates, this is definitely a cruisers dream. Even though Sanosaka is a small resort, there is a bit of variety and surprisingly very few cat-tracks…which snowboarders will love. All of the intermediate terrain terminates in a green run and even low intermediates can get out there and enjoy the whole resort, especially the views over Lake Aokiko on the Lake-Down dog run. Higher intermediates can enjoy the steeper narrow groomed run skier’s right of the top lift, number five, called New Paradise. From there, continue all the way down to the base on Paradise Slope on the longest run in the resort at 2.1km.

Additionally, there is a “carving slope” with a decent pitch that retains good snow quality that you can get to by taking lift number six, just next to the bumps run in front of the base.

Terrain Park

The “easy park” is small but can be fun for a few laps. Just take lift number 3 up and after taking in the breathtaking views of the lake, head skier’s right for a series of small rollers. But you’ll find the best parts of the park are the rails and kickers at the bottom of the run, just beware of over shooting the landing as there isn’t much pitch here.

Advanced Skiing and Snowboarding On-Piste

Unlike most Japanese ski resorts, there are actually a of couple spots for advanced on piste riders, or rather upper intermediate/lower advanced on-piste riders.

Above the top lift number 5, on the New Paradise Slope, there is a short area that’s often left ungroomed. It is marked as expert on the map but would more accurately be classified as high intermediate and only has a maximum of 32 degrees. Also, if you swing wide skier’s left, and even hike up a bit, there are some trees and side hits that you can nip in and out of if you really sniff out the pow like a proper powder hound should!

If it’s bumps training you are after, you have come to the right place. Sanosaka has a long history of mogul and freestyle ski training. You can find some smaller training bumps as well as a couple of Olympic style mogul runs. Knee braces optional for those hot-doggin’ it!

Off-Piste Riding and Skiing Sanosaka

Around lift 3 (the lake/dog/park lift) is the wildcard zone of mostly coniferous (pine) trees. Unlike most resorts in Japan which feature mainly deciduous trees (leaf bearing), these needle bearing evergreen trees will feel more like you’re in Colorado or British Columbia than Nagano.

Ski patrol shouldn’t bother you here. They may say konnichiwa, take a few turns with you, and give you some helpful tips as to where to find terrain traps and hazards but they will not pull your pass. No need to appear as if you are invisible here because it’s now all good in Sanosaka. Enjoy at your own risk though, because if you get injured or stuck in this area, you will have to pay out of pocket if you need medical assistance.


There is a bit of side country at Sanosaka if you are willing to explore, although it has decreased significantly after Aokiko Ski Resort closed down. From the top of the Lake Down (dog) Course, if you stick to the far skier’s right, after taking a number of brilliant photos of the lake, you can get into the tall cedar trees and effectively find yourself in the old Aokiko resort. Keep your speed here and enjoy the intermediate fall line (watch out for tree wells) entirely to yourself and then enter back onto the groomed run when you really start to lose pitch. Remember to keep as much speed as you can because you will have to get all the way back across the flat in order to get onto the quad again. Say hi to the powder hounds on the lift, aka the real dogs, woof!