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TR/Vid Hanazono + Hirafu '12/'13 - Mar 21 (SJ Giveaway)

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Here is a trip report from Hanazono/Grand Hirafu. Thank you SnowJapan for the awesome ticket.

As I don't have many good pictures of the resorts from this season I collected a few clips from through out this '12/'13 season showing why I love these resorts. Included are 2 short clips from my visit from Tokyo on Mar 21,...




The share volume of powder is great. This season the lifts seemed to be affected by wind more than I remember in the past, so it's good they stuck in the new Hirafu gondola last season (being able to remain operational in stronger winds).

Like many other skiers and boarders I used Hanazono as a way to get me back to the top gates 3,4, and 5. The food at the 308 cafe is nice. I enjoyed the lamb. Their crab ramen is recommended by many, but I am yet to try it.


The amount of light powdering snow that falls through out the season makes for some very fun riding at these resorts.


Unfortunately this season glide cracks were a major issue this year


What follows is my review of Hanazono/Hirafu.

To split the review into 3 sections park, piste, powder.

Park. *****

Hanazono has one of the best parks I have visited here in Japan. With a nice half pipe and a range of large tabletops with good landings in Hanazono. and similar but slightly smaller features in Hirafu provide a great range of stuff for park rats.


Piste ****

Hirafu's on piste riding is great, due to the pretty consistent snow quality and the absolutely stunning Nighta.

Maybe not as steep as some people would like, but with the nighta lighting up the entire piste area and the small number of people riding at night, it allows for some nice speedy runs. There is plenty of terrain for the beginner and intermediate. A mogul section can also be found, nicely put on the side of the run for those who enjoy the bumps.

Hanazono's piste area is really only off the first chair, this chair is also used for the park access. The 2nd and 3rd chairs are to gain access to Hirafu and the Gates at the top.



Superb. The off piste riding and skiing in Hirafu/Hanazono is great. Sure, it may not have the steeps of other resorts in Japan or else where but the amount of fresh powder days in a typical season is fantastic. The gate system allows access to a large amount of backcountry riding.

With Hanazono providing lift service back up to do it again. IMO the dangers that exist outside the boundry are very real and as such those without knowledge, experience, and proper equipment should stay away.

The inbounds off-piste riding available is also great, but can get tracked fairly quickly. Stashes can be found through out the day if you are willing to hunt. As mentioned above the Hirafu nighta is amazing, and when the snow is fresh it is some of the most fun riding available anywhere. There is enough ambient light to provide amazing tree ski at night.

Hanazono's Strawberry Fields has some nice pillows, however it does get tracked out very fast, so be sure to get there first thing on a powder day if you want to hit some drops.


Hanazono's 308 Cafe provides a good range of food including some western style dishes.

Hirafu's Cafes serve a range of typical Japanese dishes, from fried pork cutlets to salmon roe on rice all at a very reasonable price considering the location.


Thank you again SnowJapan for tickets and providing a great place to share the stoke, and thank you to Hanazono resort for the lift ticket.

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55 in Hokkaido, spend a fair amount of time at Niseko. But also a reasonable portion of time at other resorts/mountains from central Hokkaido through to resorts closer to Sapporo.

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Yes, work, let's just say no days off from Apr-late Dec, and several 6 day weeks over summer. Wish I didn't have to and could enjoy summer but my passion lies in sliding down powdery snow covered hills.

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Looks good Sand, sorry we didn't have the chance to hook up on a late season Kagura trip this year. However next season, when/if you're back in Hokkaido, give me a shout and let's share some turns again

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