Hakuba Norikura is known for many things, but crowds are not one of them. This charming resort tucked neatly between Tsugaike and Cortina exemplifies what it is to be a traditional Japanese ski area in terms of its modest size, excellent snow quality, and relaxed local atmosphere. While not a particularly large resort, there is plenty of terrain to occupy visitors for short-term stays, and those with more time or short attention spans will be delighted to know that Norikura and neighboring Cortina are actually interconnected and can be skied independently, or combined with a joint lift ticket.
Hakuba Norikura's lift-accessed terrain maxxes out at an elevation of 1,300 meters, and its northerly location relative to most of the Hakuba Valley's other snow resorts translates to frequent heavy snowfalls during the long snow season. Despite seemingly humble stats, the 9 lifts and 14 runs combined with a handful of self-responsibility powder zones in the treed areas between marked slopes equate to a surprising variety of terrain on hand to compliment the superior views, laidback vibes and après ski onsen opportunities found here. "Haku Nori" as it's known to locals, is an excellent place to base yourself and absorb a real Japanese snow experience for a few days; for everyone from families to freeriders.
This is a small, charming community that hearkens back to the days of skiing in Japan before it landed on the international tourism radar. The number of rice paddies still easily outnumbers accommodations by a factor of nearly 2 to 1. The most significant landmark of the Hakuba Norikura village area is the aforementioned Hakuba Alps Hotel. This large, full-service hotel with upwards of 150 rooms, several restaurants and beautiful hot spring baths does a surprisingly good job of blending into the rural Haku Nori landscape with its modest European styling. As the official resort name suggests, Hakuba Norikura Onsen is located near a natural hot spring source, and another excellent onsen operates in the area; Wakaguri Onsen.
Lodging and restaurants are clustered into two main areas, with a handful of options located near the Alps Hotel, but the majority grouped together around the Satomi Central Slope at the other end of the resort. As with nearby Tsugaike, a number of places offer true ski in ski out convenience, but none are more than 500 meters from a lift. There is a healthy mix of traditional, Japanese family-run establishments as well as those that are slightly slicker and more modern thanks to outside investment. Another plus for families or large groups is the fact that Norikura has more cottage-style private lodging where the entire building can be rented out and shared with friends or family.
Haku Nori doesn't have the same number or variety of restaurants or shops as the nearby and slightly larger Tsugaike, but the offerings are slowly increasing with each successive ski season and if you're ok with doing your shopping ahead of time and forgoing wild nights out on the town in favor of spending more relaxing evenings out with friends, there is enough here to get by.
For more information about local accommodation in the HAKUBA NORIKURA area, please click on the following link:Hakuba Norikura Accommodation
Throughout the day Hakuba Valley Shuttle Buses to and from Norikura run more or less hourly, providing easy access between all of the other resorts of the Hakuba Valley as well as to Hakuba Station, Happo Bus Terminal and various other locations in Hakuba village. These buses are ¥500 per ride, or free for those in possession of the valley-wide Hakuba Valley lift ticket. Please check the Hakuba Valley homepage for more details, including the current or upcoming season's shuttle bus timetable.Hakuba Valley
If you are staying in Norikura and need or want to stock up on groceries, make a pharmacy run or go out for dinner and drinks in Tsugaike or Happo after spending your day here, the Otari Night Bus travels the route between the Happo Bus Terminal and Minami Otari Station, including stops at the three Otari ski resorts (Tsugaike, Norikura and Cortina), several times per night from late December to the end of February. Adult fares are fixed at ¥300 for a single ride.Otari Snow Resort Shuttle Bus