Hakkoda is essentially lift serviced backcountry. It bears very little resemblance to a ski resort in the traditional sense. It consists of just one ropeway and a small chairlift and has just two marked runs. Hakkoda is well generally remembered and feared amongst japanese for the ill fated training march around 100 years ago when over 200 soldiers perished in a severe storm in the region. Hakkoda is a serious mountain and can turn ugly. The terrain can be tricky to navigate even in good weather, let alone poor visibility. There is some good skiing on the marked trails, but the good stuff is in the trees and in good weather with some hiking there is plenty of backcountry terrain that can be reached. For this though you really need a guide.
You essentially come to Hakkoda for one of two reasons.
In winter it is the abundant snowfall as well as the quality. It is regularly about sking good quality powder although the weather up top can often be quite severe and visibility can be poor. However if the wind does not close the ropeway (threshold is 25m/s) dropping a short distance off the top usually gets you out of the wind and the trees do give you a read on the terrain.
In spring when there is more fine weather the ropeway gives you easy access to a vast area of the north Hakkoda range for lots of day tours. A number of peaks can be accessed and climbed with a couple of hours and several routes can be skied through the trees and down to the road where someone can pick you up at a pre-arranged location.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Aomori prefecture. About an hour by road from Aomori city.
Lift serviced backcountry skiing. Powder in winter, many easy touring options in spring.
Weather can turn ugly and area can be difficult to navigate. You need a guide.
Phone: PLEASE EDIT
Fax: PLEASE EDIT
Postal: PLEASE EDIT
Aomori can be reached by plane, train, bus or car.
There are several JAL flights a day from Tokyo-Haneda (flight time about 80mins).
By train you can catch the Hayate Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori which is about 3.5 hours from Tokyo and runs about every hour. The Shinkansen extension from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori was completed in late 2010. The Shinkansen trip one way though will be about Y16,000, so 4 day JR East pass (Y20,000) is definately worthwhile if you are planning a return trip to Tokyo.
There are also overnight bus services from Tokyo.
Then there are JR buses which stop at the Hakkoda ropeway station on the way to Lake Towada. There are usually at least 3 buses a day although the times and frequencies vary from season to season so check the timetable in the links below. They leave from Aomori station bus stop no. 10, then stop at Shin-Aomori station bus stop no. 1, then go via Moya Hills to the Hakkoda ropeway station. The most convenient place to catch it therefore is from Shin-Aomori station which is about 10mins away from Aomori station, unless you wanted to stopovber in Aomori city. The trip takes about an hour and costs Y1070. A JR pass is valid for this bus but not a JR East pass. There is an information centre just outside Aomori station where you can confirm details and buy a ticket. Otherwise take a numbered ticket when boarding and pay the amount on the board for that number when getting off.
A taxi would cost around Y6000.
Alternatively you can catch a local bus to the public college which is about halfway and arrange for the hotel to pick you up from there.
There are two places at the base of the ropeway. The Sansou Lodge and the Hakkoda Resort Hotel. The Hakkoda Resort Hotel has good size Tatami rooms, a very large Onsen downstairs and great meals.
There are a couple of other hotels around a 15 min drive away. You would need a car if staying at one of these.
There are two lifts run by two different lift companies with naturally enough two different ticket systems. The main lift is the Ropeway which is Y4900 for 5 runs (anytime) or Y14000 for a monthly ticket which pays off if you are there for 5 days or more.
There is also a small chairlift for which you can get 3 run tickets for Y800, 10 runs for Y2300 or a day ticket for Y3000.
There is a ski school hut just above the Hakkoda Resort Hotel. There you can can book guided tours for Y3200 a half day or Y5000 a full day, although there is almost no english spoken.
If you are staying at one of the places by the ropeway station it is only a very short walk to the lifts. Otherwise there is little in the immediate vicinity. The Sakayu onsen is about a 15min drive away. If you wanted to check out other options on bad weather days you would need a car.
The Sansou lodge and the place next door both provide the standard Japanese ski resort lunch dishes like Noodles, Donburis and Curries. The other place also does a very good Yakiniku / Bulgogi (barbequed beef).
The dinners at the Hakkoda Resort hotel are Japanese set meals including an excellent array of sashimi, tempura, various nabes, smoked fish, scallops etc.
Bars & Entertainment
There is quite a nice looking bar at the Hakkoda Resort Hotel but it is only used for private functions. Otherwise grab a beer or Chu-hi (Y200 for a 500ml can) from the vending machine or bring your own.
A few souveniers in the hotel lobby, but your'e not here to shop.
Not a great deal here for children. It's not what you would call a family resort.
The Hakkoda Resort Hotel has a large naturally fed onsen downstairs and a very nice massage chair. The 300 year old cederwood Sakayu onsen is about a 15 min drive away. It is worth a visit if you have a down day.
If you have your own car and want to take a day off skiing, some options would be heading back to Aomori, west to Hirosaki to visit the castle or south to Lake Towada.
From the top of the Ropeway there are two marked and patrolled runs - Direct and Forest. The names are fairly self explanatory. In poor visibility care should be taken even on these runs as it can be easy to go the wrong way in the trees and get lost.
There are also several unpatrolled options within the bounds of the ropeway. There are plenty of hazardous areas on this front face (avalanche prone, ravines) that should be avoided, so a guide is certainly recommended.
Not really a place for beginners. The chairlift run is fine for intermediates.
There is no grooming as such for the ropeway runs. The patrol will normally break trail on these runs and they will just get packed down by skier traffic. The chairlift runs will be groomed.
Out of Bounds
The big thing with Hakkoda is the huge amount of backcountry you can access from the top of the Ropeway. These require some hiking / snowshoeing / skinning, reasonable weather, some sort of arrangement to get picked up from the road where you end up and most of all a guide.
One possible route is the Dozo route. From the top of the Ropeway, through the gate and a about a 5 min walk amongst the Juhyo (Snow monsters), a short but sweet ski down a gully, then a skin of maybe 15-30 mins around the side of Maedake or summit if you like. Then a long ski fairly open at first, then into the trees and eventually coming out on the road by the Dozo teahouse, where the guide will have arranged for the hotel to pick you up.
In good weather ie. spring there are a host of other routes available which are marked to an extent. Maps are available at the hotel or ropeway station. Some of these end up near onsens. You need to pre-arrange a pick up on the road where you exit. Normally you will have a guide do this.
Doesn't appear to be.
Parks & Pipes
These may form on the chairlift runs.
In the trees.
It can get very windy. The ropeway will close if it exceeds the threshold of 25 m/s (90 kmh). Even when it is only around half that it can still be fairly unpleasant exiting the top ropeway station, so get yourself organised before you head out the door.
 Snowjapan entry
 JR bus timetable (english page)
 Ropeway website (japanese)
 Hakkoda Resort Hotel (japanese)
 Simon's Hakkoda Powder Snow Tours
 Company running chairlift (japanese)
 Wikipedia entry for Hakkoda
 1902 tragedy