Japan has long been a top destination for skiers, snowboarders, and winter travel enthusiasts in general. Seeking out the best slopes and snow across the archipelago, travelers have made destinations like Hokkaido’s Niseko Ski Resort into perennial favorites, especially among international visitors.
But what about the adventurous looking for something off the beaten trail? Someplace not so reminiscent of jostling elbows in Tokyo city intersections, where you can experience the dizzying freedom of uncharted territory? Enter Aomori’s Hakkoda Ski Resort, dubbed as “a powder skiing mecca, and possibly the holy grail of skiing in Japan” by ski review website Powderhounds (http://www.powderhounds.com).
Aomori is famous for its epic winters, and Hakkoda is no exception: the sheer volume of snowfall is incredible. Most of the runs aren’t groomed so skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of the fresh powder that falls on a daily basis. There’s snow falling all winter long, and sometimes even as late as May.
January and February offer the most ideal conditions for power snow. A selection of hotels are available at the base of the mountain, and guided ski tours are offered as well (in English too!) Also, hot springs and delicious seafood in the Hakkoda area are not to be missed: just what you need after a long day of thrills (or abuse) on the slopes.
You can get to Aomori by air from Tokyo (Haneda), Nagoya, Osaka, Hokkaido (New Chitose), and Seoul, Korea (Incheon). Other options are the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo or express train from Kutchan, Hokkaido. Once you get to Aomori, Hakkoda is a one hour drive or bus ride from Aomori City.
JR Bus, Bound for Lake Towada*, 60 minute ride(¥1,100)
Hakkoda Ropeway Base Station