This January has seen Yuzawa area get dumped on and not wanting to miss out on the snowfall I've been itching to get away. My usual spot, Kagura, was forecast to get buffeted by some strong winds so I had a look around the Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma area for an alternative spot. I've pretty much hit all the other Yuzawa places and wasn't feeling the love for them so I decided to try out Hakkaisan. I'd heard pretty good things about it. I was worried that the fabled moguls, for which the place is famous, would be a pain in the neck but with so much snowfall, they hadn't had a chance to develop yet.....which was good. With it being so snowy and not knowing the area I was looking for a resort that had easy side hits to get my pow fix, the trees through the winding top green run looked to be the easiest to get. They were deep and relatively light....very creamy to surf through. If you ride at the very far end of them (where the switchbacks in the green runs are) you can get a longish powder run without the regular breaking up from the official beginner run. Be aware of the last switchback, so as to not go to far down.....get back onto the piste and then you can hit the trees below the top lift.
The snow was a tad heavier to that which I've become accustomed (riding regularly in Hokkaido really spoils my snow perceptions!) and I got stuck a couple of times just a few metres from the slope, but it was a fun day out.
It was a bit of an epic journey to get there......shink from tokyo to Echigo Yuzawa then local train to Muikamachi was MEANT to be the route, but when we arrived at Yuzawa the local trains were off due to the amount of snow....which meant we had to take the bus to Muikamachi station......that wasn't leaving for another hour! :O We then took the bus from Muikamachi up to the resort, only 2 other people were on the bus and 1 of them was a resort employee. So not too many people at the resort which meant that it was a peaceful day for us. It appeared that we were the only gaij up there too which was pretty novel!
There is a bus back to Muikamachi station at or around 5pm......but the lifts all close around 3:30 ish and then the shops/ restaurant close up pretty quickly too. we were the last people waiting in the rental room/ rest area waiting for the bus.