North of Tokyo in the Aomori prefecture of northern Honshu Island, the Hakkoda Ropeway has a single cable car serving two ungroomed, backcountry-style courses with a maximum vertical drop of 655m. In addition, there is another small chairlift accessing three short courses. This is not a family oriented ski area. The Hakkoda Ropeway ski area is known for it's off-piste backcountry freeriding, and has an open backcountry policy. The region is usually treated to plenty of fresh powder. Luckily, the ski area is not as crowded as other nearby resorts.
The Hakkoda Ropeway cable car runs every 20 minutes and you can expect long lines on the weekends. Up top, there are two official courses down that are marked by orange poles. These ungroomed courses are not patrolled so be prepared. These unmarked courses are not particularly steep, which can make them quite challenging on deep pow days. Beyond the two marked courses, there are several other options with a little hiking involved. To fully explore the open terrain accessible by the cable car, a guide is highly recommended especially to avoid ending up in a volcanic vent! Keep in mind that the Hokkoda area is known for sudden foul weather storms turning nice days into white-out conditions.
To reach the snowboarding at Hakkoda Ropeway from Tokyo, take the train to Shin-Aomori. Then, there is a 60 minute bus ride to Hakkoda Ropeway. While in the large cities, make sure to use the ATM since ATM machines can be quite hard to find at the resorts (especially ones accepting international cards) and credit cards are rarely accepted. When snowboarding and freeriding internationally, it is important to get a travel insurance policy that covers emergency rescue, medical expense and evacuation. There are many destinations that will not initiate rescue or medical treatment without prior payment or proof of insurance. In many cases, the rescue fees, medical fees or evacuation to a reputable hospital can total tens of thousands of dollars. Plans such as GEOS SAR100 or IMG Patriot Travel Medical Insurance are well worth the per-trip cost of $130 to $200 USD.
Overall, Hakkoda Ropeway is the 1st most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 22 snowboarding resorts in Japan.