Happo Ski Resort Terrain


Happo Ski Resort Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    760 – 1,831 (1,071)
  • Average Snow Fall
    11.7  metres
  • Lifts (22)
    1 gondola
    5 quads
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 5:00pm
    early Dec - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 16
    Longest run – 8 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced -20%

Happo Ski Resort Terrain

The Happo ski resort is characterised by its reasonably steep pitch and is one of the largest of the Hakuba ski resorts yet still reasonably small compared to most world class ski resorts. Happo One has only 16 courses, but the ski area is larger than the statistic suggests because some “courses” consist of a few trails/piste.

The Happo One ski resort drops down the flank of Mt Karamatsu (2,696m). The ski area is narrow at the top and it fans down to four base areas. Nakiyama is the main day trippers base and has mostly intermediate terrain and night skiing. Shirakaba features the Adam Gondola (or gondora as the Japanese like to call it) with steep red runs and a little green run at the base. The Kokusai base has a small patch of never-ever (novice) terrain at the base (and is the on-slope headquarters of Evergreen) but the main access is a black run. The Sakka base is close to the Upper Wadano Village and is perfect for beginners.


Happo Ski Resort has 22 lifts and the fleet consists of the Adam gondola, 5 quad chair lifts, 3 triples and 13 double chairs, although not all of these lifts run on a consistent basis. For a ski resort that’s the premium resort of Hakuba, and one of the most popular in Japan, it’s poor form that the lift infrastructure is so antiquated. Most of the lifts are old clunkers and many don’t have safety bars, let alone foot rests. The Adam gondola is from a bygone era, with the only positive being that they’ve retrofitted racks on the cabins so that fat skis and snowboards don’t need to go inside.


Lift queues can develop at Happo One, especially on weekends when the Tokyo folks come to play. Like most Japanese ski resorts, lift lines are not well managed, so don’t be surprised if you see a solo riding on a quad chair. One pro for Happo is that there are lots of lifts that rise from the base areas, so it doesn’t get the extreme lift line congestion seen at some resorts.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets at Happo are the most expensive of the Hakuba ski resorts, so the Hakuba Valley multi-resort pass provides good value if you plan to ride at Happo One a lot.

Happo One is also accessible using the Epic Pass – see the Hakuba skiing page for more information.

Happo One Snow

Like the rest of Hakuba, Happo One is blessed with bountiful snowfall and good powder (but generally not the super dry Hokkaido type powder), and it also has snow making on various trails in the lower parts of the resort. The Happo slopes are largely east facing although the aspect does vary somewhat. Also as to be expected with a vertical of over 1,000 metres, the Happo snow quality differs from the top to the bottom slops (no spelling mistake!). Also note that Happo One doesn’t always have adequate cover for top to bottom skiing and snowboarding, and early in the season there is potentially the need for downloading of lifts (see when to ski in Hakuba for more information).

The upper parts of Happo Ski Resort are very exposed, so when it’s blowing a gale, the snow can easily get wind scoured.

Beginner Skiing Happo One

Happo One Ski Resort has two levels of beginners runs: “Beginner” runs that are mellow (ie single greens); and “Upper Beginner” courses (ie double greens) that are not good for timid intermediates but great for progression.

The Sakka area is mellow and is the only area with proper “Beginner” runs. This is also the home of the official Happo One Ski School where you can have group lessons if you speak Japanese (or private lessons in English). All three other base areas have dark green runs, along with a very small novice area. For example, the Nakiyama base has a small first-timers area and a covered magic carpet. The Kokusai base is home to Evergreen International Ski School and there is a small area on Kokusai for novices.

Ski Happo for the Intermediate

Happo-One is incredibly well suited to the intermediate skier or snowboarder, with many long well groomed runs and fantastic fall-line. There aren’t a lot of intermediate courses, but it’s all about the quality.

Terrain Park

Happo Parks is located adjacent to the Kitaone 3 lift and consists of a handful of jumps. Happo-One isn’t the best place for dedicated park riders and better terrain parks can be found at Tsugaike or Hakuba 47.

Snowboarding & Skiing Happo - Advanced On-Piste

There are some fabulously steep groomed runs at Happo-One that are great for speedy Gonzales riding. Tighten your goggles or your eyes may water! The Olympic course is particularly good for a fast race if it’s been groomed (unfortunately there is no grooming report).

The resort also generally has great black mogul runs if it’s not a powder day. The Japanese locals love their bumps and are absolute legends on the bumps and are a great advertisement for Glucosamine, the arthritis wonder-herb!

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

A number of black runs have been upgraded to double blacks in recent years. Sure the moguls can be challenging when it’s icy, but grading slopes with an average gradient of only 27-30 degrees and a maximum of a 33 to 37 degrees as a double black diamond is a bit laughable.

Even off-piste, there’s no in-bounds terrain that is super steep that will get experts quivering in their boots. Similarly there are negligible little cliff bands for hucking fun.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

The resort has introduced a couple of official tree skiing areas to try and keep up with the likes of Madarao, but they get smashed in a nano-second. Elsewhere off-piste skiing is officially not permitted, yet everyone does it and ski patrol seem more laid back than at some other Hakuba ski resorts such as Goryu. One popular spot for off-piste skiing is the ridge to the skiers’ left of the Alpen quad chair. It’s up high so the snow quality is generally very good but it tends to get tracked out rather quickly. Another well-liked area is adjacent to Omusubi. There are other off-piste spots at lower elevation such as the trees in the Shirakaba area, but it requires good quality snow to ride it.

All in all, the tree skiing and off-piste skiing is OK without being fabulous, and there are too many other powder chasers there.


The backcountry is the highlight of powder skiing at Happo. From the top lift it’s possible to access the renowned Happo backcountry once you’ve submitted a climbing plan and entered the backcountry via the beacon checking gate. In close on skiers’ right are lots of mellow lines that are popular, so it gets tracked before the snowpack has had a chance to settle after a dump.

Further afield and to lookers’ right are steep alpine faces and gullies. These alpine slopes are very avalanche prone, and like any backcountry skiing, only do so with appropriate avalanche equipment and a guide (see Hakuba guided tours) and/or good backcountry know-how.