For our second day, we were torn between Tsugaike Kogen and Happo-one (pronounced oh-nay). Both were about the same price for a day ticket, 1000 yen lunch and onsen discount coupon, 5100 yen and 5200 yen, respectively with repeat customer coupon (this coupon has deals for Happo-one, Tsugaike Kogen and some other place). This coupon is not available from the tourist info (although they do have some that are not quite as good of a deal ~100 yen more. If you can’t make it there, check online.), but they give them out at lodging places or when you buy a lift ticket.
Happo-one hosted many of the 1998 Nagano Olympic events and is more alpine, where Tsugaike is more tree skiing with better backcountry access. However, their in-bounds terrain is supposedly pretty boring.
After waiting around a bit in the Happo-one parking lot, we decided to buy lift tickets when the mid-mountain lifts opened. It turned out to be a good call because eventually the top chairs finally got going.
We did fit in a bit of skinning in to access a run that didn’t have list access open yet. Most others were boot packing, but an older man was also skinning up. Rob and I ran into him over lunch and learned he was also another Japan Campers customer. What are the odds? I think there are only 20-30 camper vans. Unfortunately, we had to rip skins in a hurry when the lift began running.
Runs had nice powder but a majority of it was wind effected. We managed to find some fun dropping small sections of trees off of the many little ridges. No one bothered us about being off-piste (not always considered in-bounds in Japanese ski resorts).
After skiing, we used our combo coupon to enjoy the hot spring pools at a nearby onsen. This one, mimizukunoyu next to Hotel Hakuba, was peaceful with indoor and outdoor pools. It also had great WiFi, which the laundromat in town where we headed next lacked. We were able to cook a tasty ramen dinner while the clothes were washed and dried. Yay for efficiency! Next stop – michi no ekki Azumino City for a day of non-skiing adventures.