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Hakkaisan: Insider Ski & Snowboard Tips
The majority of its upper slopes go ungroomed and can be reached quickly and easily via an 81-person 2.2km tram that transports skiers and boarders up to the peak at 1,147m. Being so high up, it’s unsurprising Hakkaisan’s longest run is an impressive 5,500m long, boasts a vertical drop of 820m and has a maximum pitch of 38 degrees – which can be hard to come by when riding in-bounds in Japan.
There are some fun turns to be had right off the cable car and you can dip in and out of the snaking green trails and into the trees on the looker’s right of the resort, but the real terrain beckons in the sidecountry.
Sadly, these zone’s enormous potential is matched only by how heavily policed it comes by ski patrol and the likes. While international resorts like Niseko and Hakuba have well and truly cottoned onto and capitalised on the Gaijin (foreigner) desire to ski the trees, moguls have always been the pride and joy of plenty of smaller local resorts and this has been slow to change.
However, it is possible to hire a guide to take you into these zones, which contain anything from tight tree skiing, chutes, rocks and little cliff drops.
Just 2 and a half hours and 228km northwest of Tokyo, Hakkaisan is certainly one of the more accessible resorts in Japan, which could be enjoyed over a weekend or as part of a larger resort hopping road trip.
To get there from Tokyo, you can catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Echigo Yuzawa (80mins), then transfer to the Joetsu or Hokuhoku line onto Muikamachi station (17-20mins). From Muikamachi, there is a bus service to take you onto Hakkaisan (30mins), but be mindful of the schedule as it runs a few times daily.
While there isn’t much of a village to speak of at the base of the resort, there are still a number of traditional style Japanese inns and B&Bs to stay at.
Hakkaisan: Restaurant & Après
Hakkaisan is perhaps most renowned for its sake so it follows that you can après as hard as you dare while sampling this local delicacy. However, you’ll have to entertain yourself to a large degree as there’s not much going on by way of organized nightlife.
Hakkaisan: Non-skiing Activities