Finding Tohoku

Finding Tohoku

Finding Tohoku

Finding Tohoku

Finding Tohoku

HAKKODA: A DEEPER LOOK Aomori Trip

Aomori Trip

Mt. Hakkoda

Hakkoda Ropeway

Address:
1-12, Kansuizawa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0111

Access:
By public transport, it takes approximately 60 minutes from JR Shin-Aomori Station. Take JR to Aomori Station, then the No. 11 bus bound for Towada and get off at Hakkoda Ropeway Station bus stop.
By car, it takes approximately 30 minutes from Aomori-chuo interchange on the Aomori Expressway via Route 103 (Hakkoda-Towada Gold Line).

URL:
http://www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp/english

* Travel to JR Shin-Aomori Station on the JR East Tohoku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station.
Click here for details.

Hachinohe Yokocho

Hachinohe Yokocho

Address:
Muika-machi, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori 031-0033

Access:
Approx. ten-minute walk from JR Hachinohe Station
Approx. seven minutes by car from Hachinohe interchange on the Hachinohe Expressway

URL:
http://36yokocho.com/ (Japanese)

Cody Townsend, a professional skier who travels the globe in search of the best skiing experiences, visited Mt. Hakkoda in central Aomori Prefecture. Even today, Mt. Hakkoda is home to pristine natural beauty and is famed for its frost and snow-covered trees that have become known as “snow monsters.” What did Cody think of his skiing experiences in such unique scenery?

-What were the best things about skiing in Aomori?

Cody: By far the coolest thing was being able to choose your own way down and go wherever you want. The Hakkoda Ropeway ski area in Aomori has two permanent courses in the managed area-the direct course (3.5 km) and the forest course (5 km)- and these are amazing for intermediate to advanced skiers. There’s a particularly great range of advanced-level options, plus there is hardly anyone there, giving you a sense of having the entire mountain to yourself.

Cody skiing in the backcountry.

I don’t know why Hakkoda is not more well-known, because it has some of the best runs, snow quality and scenery I’ve found in Japan.

Cody at Mt. Hakkoda with "snow monsters" in the background.

-What is unique to Aomori (Mt. Hakkoda) in terms of skiing style and ways to have a good time?

Cody: My top pick would be the backcountry skiing. You can enjoy pristine natural surroundings and ski down open slopes with no trees and unbelievable powder. Getting away from the crowded pistes and walking through forests in search of untouched slopes is one of the best feelings.

Cody taking a guided walk through the Mt. Hakkoda snowscape.

For all skiers thinking about exploring the backcountry, I would recommend hiring a guide, who knows about danger spots like snow overhangs and crevices.

Back country skiing in Mt. Hakkoda.

-Other than the skiing, what else about Aomori made an impression on you?

Cody: Hachinohe Yokocho in Hachinohe city in southeastern Aomori was amazing. There was one bar, called Prince, that was the coolest bar I’d ever been in by far. The bartender was devoted to his craft and it was really cool to experience that-it felt very real. The izakaya bar specializing in seafood Shiosai was the same. The owner was totally dedicated to barbequing fish well. It was their single-minded devotion that I found really inspiring.

Enjoying a drink at the bar Prince.

Also, you could tell when people walked into the bars that the bartender knew them. I got the impression that, despite being small, there is a strong sense of community. You don’t feel they are serving you as a tourist, and you don’t feel any divide between the locals and visitors-you are just another person there. It felt warm and welcoming. At Okage-san, the izakaya bar serving local specialties, the owners were so friendly. We had a great time sitting under the kotatsu blanket, enjoying senbei-jiru soup, which is a specialty of Hachinohe.

Cody snug and warm under the kotatsu blanket in Okage-san izayaka bar.

-What were the most appealing aspects of your Aomori trip that you want to tell your fans about?

Cody: One of the best things for a traveler is to find a secret part of the world. I think Aomori is the best kept secret for a skier in Japan. I’ve never heard of other skiers I know going to Aomori, but now I know about it. So, I have a little secret (laughs). With runs that will appeal to even the best skiers and its mesmerizing “snow monster” landscapes, I have no doubt that Aomori is one of the best places to go for skiing.

Cody on the ropeway.

Also, in Mt. Hakkoda there are fewer skiers than in Niseko (Hokkaido) and Hakuba (Nagano) and your guide can take you to many amazing places to enjoy backcountry skiing suited to your skiing skills. It felt so real, like an authentic old-style ski resort.

On the way down the snowy slopes in Mt. Hakkoda.

Ski, ski lifestyle and landscape photos by Ming T. Poon for JNTO
※All images are used with permission.
※Important points to remember when skiing:
– Abide by the rules and regulations of each ski area.
– For back country skiing, you must take the necessary safety precautions, ensuring that you take the required equipment and are accompanied by a guide who has detailed knowledge of the area.
Contact for area in Mt. Hakkoda
Mt. Hakkoda Guide Club

Contact person: Hiroyoshi Soma
http://www.hakkoda-gc.com/