When to Come to Hakuba
The ski & snowboard season in Hakuba is a long one, beginning as soon as there`s adequate snow coverage, typically towards the end of November, & continuing right through the Japanese “Golden Week” holiday the first week of May.
In such a long season, what to expect in terms of snow quality, crowds and atmosphere in the valley can vary quite a bit. With this in mind, i`ve broken the season down loosely into four sections in order to paint a bit of a picture of what you can expect; early season, peak season, shoulder season, & late season.
Early Season (late November till roughly Dec 19th)
Decent snow high up with minimal crowds and super discounts on lift tickets & accommodation make early December a nice time for a visit to Hakuba. And in the unlikely event that there`s no skiing due to lack of snow, a full refund is offered for bookings up to Dec 20th.
There`s no such thing as a guarantee in the world of ski conditions but typically by the 1st of December there`s enough snow that the tops of the big resorts are open. And by the middle of the month, there`s likely to have been a few big powder sessions.
For those looking to get a real early start, it is possible to ride powder as early as mid-November, but it`s also possible to be shut out with no snow at all. In this light, diehards looking to come in November best follow the current conditions and forecast to help with a last minute decision.
I should also note that some services in the valley are a little haphazard during this period. Resort shuttle buses and some restaurants for example, don`t get running until Dec 20th. But have no fear, as we offer our guests complimentary pick-ups and drop-offs to the ski hills during this period and will make sure you get to the plenty of great restaurants that are open.
- Super discounts on lift tickets & accommodation
- Bare minimal crowds
- Nice machine-groomed runs with chances of powder
- Full refund in the event of cancellation due to lack of snow
Tip – Keep an eye on our blog to be alerted of good conditions, and for last minute deals on flights from Oz, Singapore & Hong Kong.
Peak Season (Dec 20th through February)
This is prime time in Hakuba, when awesome conditions are the norm & the valley is at its most vibrant. In addition to big powder days, all restaurants are on “go” and there are plenty of nightlife & entertainment options.
Again, great conditions can never be guaranteed, but if one had to place a bet, the smart money would be on powder & more powder from Christmas through Feb.
- Peak winter conditions
- Tons of great food & nightlife options
- The Morino tour to the Nozawa fire festival on Jan 15th
Tip – Crowds in Hakuba never approach those found at big resorts in North America or Europe and even in peak season lift lines average only a few minutes. However, Morino Lodge and our other properties do fill up quickly for this period. So, to avoid disappointment, booking early is recommended.
Another Tip - Winter conditions can at times be extreme. And since Hakuba has over 12 resorts stretching along 20km East to West, daily conditions at the various resorts can vary greatly. We`re always on top of this so be sure to ask one of our staff in the mornings for our picks of the day.
Shoulder Season (March!!)
Excellent conditions with a great blend of sunny days & powder, small crowds, & big accommodation discounts make March a smart time for a trip to Hakuba.
By early March the crowds start to drop dramatically in Hakuba. This has little to do with snow conditions but can be attributed to the fact that school holidays in nearby countries mostly end in February.
The ski & snowboard conditions are usually still excellent. The base is usually deep and there`s lots of sunny days and powder snow.
There may be some rain but it usually last less than a day and is followed by rapid cooling often turning to snow and providing a good powder day the day after.
- High probability of blue sky days
- Plenty of good powder days (often coinciding bluebird days)
- Small crowds
- Big discounts on accommodation
Tip – Plan your trip in late March and spend a couple days in Tokyo or Kyoto checking out the Japanese seasonal spectacle of cherry blossom viewing.
Late Season (April 1st through the 1st week of May)
This is the time for spring skiing, sunny days in the park & long backcountry tours amongst Hakuba`s tallest peaks. The snow is usually quite good until mid-April & the scenery is stunning. Bring your camera, snowshoes & perhaps a bottle of wine.
- Beautiful Spring snow!
- Great time for touring & backcountry
- Sunny days in one of Hakuba`s many ski/snowboard parks
- One of the most picturesque periods in the valley
Tip – Sunny day? Have us book you into lunch at “Pillar” atop Happo One for fine dining and fantastic views of the Northern Alps.