The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Nagano

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Nagano - UPDATED 2020/21
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Home to 9 of the 12 tallest mountains in Japan, the region of Nagano is no stranger to snow sports. It hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, and now, even the Freeride World Tour makes a stop here. This is also where I bury myself waist deep in pow - its broken two of my ribs but I come back for more every year! Here's my top five resorts:

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Known for

Quieter than Happo One, combining two mountains with ski terrain versatility

Highlights

  • Family-friendly including indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Night skiing available suitable for kids and beginners
  • Home to the best terrain park in Nagano
  • Limited nightlife at base and shuttle require to get to Happo Village

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 183 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 213 mi (5 hour drive)
Goryu ski resort
Goryu

Combining two stand-out mountains into one top-notch ski area, Hakuba 47 & Goryu quite literally serves up a little of everything to keep every type of skier and snowboarder happy. This ski resort is all about variety and finding freshies has never been easier. There’s no denying it, some skiers and snowboarders visit Hakuba 47 & Goryu for no other reason than for the epic terrain parks. On the downside, off the mountain there isn’t so much to do, with just a few places to stay, eat, and drink next to the slopes. However, the advantage of this is that the slopes rarely get crowded!

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Known for

Largest ski area in Hakuba Valley with the most accommodation, dining and nightlife

Highlights

  • Lots of terrain variety including Olympic race trails
  • Happo Village has everything you need
  • Easily accessible from most resort accommodation
  • Slopes can get very busy on weekends and holidays

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 185 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 216 mi (5 hour drive)
Happo One ski resort
Happo One ski resort!

Happo One offers up Hakuba Valley’s largest ski area and home to some seriously snowy steeps (it’s where the Olympic Super-G event was held). If you’re looking for plenty of challenging terrain, Happo One is sure to satisfy, and with plenty of first-rate restaurants and bustling bars you’ll be entertained off the slopes too! Happo One really does cater for everyone, whether you’re looking for a top-notch restaurant or just somewhere to hang out and drink with friends. It’s without a doubt one of the most well-rounded destination ski resorts in Nagano, even the whole of Japan.

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Known for

Charming traditional village and amazing onsens

Highlights

  • Consistent powder and terrain for all abilities
  • Village is jam-packed with onsens (hot springs)
  • Slopes are never crowded
  • Slopeside restaurants get very busy

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 172 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 201 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Kandahar East and West race trails in the distance at Nozawa Onsen
Kandahar East and West race trails in the distance at Nozawa Onsen

Before skiing transformed this historic mountain village into a fantastic ski resort, people came to Nozawa Onsen for its healing hot spring baths. Now it combines these two attractions perfectly, along with retaining its small-town feel. One of Nozawa Onsen’s most convenient features is that everything in the village is clustered together. Accommodation is either on the mountain or just a few minutes’ stroll from the lifts, while restaurants, bars, and shopping at your doorstep no matter where you stay. Spectacular scenery awaits too, especially when the sun sets in front of skiers making their last run down the mountain!

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Known for

Perfect corduroy groomers and access to the largest connected ski area in Japan

Highlights

  • Terrain for all skiing abilities
  • Ski-in/ski-out accommodation is the norm
  • Lifts and trails connect you to many neighboring resorts
  • No real ski village at the base area so dining venues are limited

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 188 mi (4 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 214 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Shiga Kogen Nagano
Shiga Kogen offers a massive 19 stand-alone ski resorts

Welcome to the largest interconnected ski area in Japan! Shiga Kogen is made up of 19 separate ski resorts, with trails running between them through the mountains and a shuttle bus operating on the roads below. Our top pick from all of them is Yakebitaiyama where the white stuff stays in excellent condition for longer compared to some nearby resorts. It also enjoys bigger dumps than other ski spots in the region, and its high elevation guarantees some wonderful views. It’s also close to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, which makes for an unforgettable day trip off the slopes.

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Known for

Deepest powder in Hakuba Valley, and some of the best tree skiing too!

Highlights

  • Best family-friendly night skiing in the valley
  • Terrain is best suited for advanced skiers
  • Higher snowfall than nearby mountains
  • Only one hotel here with a few restaurants to choose from

Closest airports

Haneda Intl. Airport - 194 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Narita Intl. Airport - 222 mi (5 hour drive)
Itadaira course black run at Cortina Japan
Itadaira Course (black run) at Cortina

Cortina has to be one of the best resorts in Hakuba Valley for its family-friendly night skiing. The long, wide, and gentle beginner course can be a bit of fun for skiers of all abilities. Advanced skiers will also love this place, and after a dump it’s a true powder junkie’s dream, just be prepared to share! The slope ends by the hotel at the bottom, and the bar makes for an ideal place to sit and enjoy a drink. There’s no ski town at Cortina but luckily the facilities here are top notch so you shouldn’t get bored, with the onsen being especially excellent.

The 5 Best Ski Resorts in Nagano
Hakuba 47 & Goryu
Happo One
Nozawa Onsen
Shiga Kogen
Cortina
Hakuba 47 & Goryu