Hanazono, is probably the smallest in terms of the resort town. However, in terms of accessible terrain, it is one of the largest ski areas in Niseko. The ski field is adjacent to Grand Hirafu, so still gets plenty of visitors despite the limited accommodation at the foot of the hill. It is easy to ski over to Hanazono, requiring only two lifts from Hirafu.
The runs or pistes are wide and open in Hanazono, perfect for enjoying a nice carve, or even just a good old hoon straight down the run. There are a couple of notorious flat spots, which can be annoying for beginner snowboarders, but advanced riders should be able to keep enough speed to avoid skating. The pistes are not particularly challenging, but great when freshly groomed in a morning. Or even after a fresh dump when pistes are often left un-groomed, so skiers can enjoy wide open powder fields.
Another way in which Hanazono draws in the visitors, is by providing excellent teaching facilites. With 3 magic carpets, and no crowds, Hanazono is a great place to take kids for their first ever lessons. Adults will also enjoy learning to ski in Hanazono. However snowboarders moving on from the magic carpet might find the flat spots annoying. For beginner/intermediate snowboarders I would suggest other areas. However Hanazono is perfect for Skiiers and first time boarders.
Another major draw card for Hanazono is the terrain park, or snowpark. Hanazono has the best park in Niseko for most of the season. In April and May the spring park in Hirafu is the place to be. However during December, January, February, and March Hanazono is home to the best snowpark in Niseko. Accessed from the bottom lift in Hanazono, the park contains a 17ft half pipe, two medium kickers, one large kicker, one medium table kicker, a couple of rails and boxes and eventually a quarter pipe is built. After the main park and small jib park finishes the run off, with four jibs and some rollers. Hanazono also has a beginner park accessed by the magic carpet. Great for people who are new to freestyle and want to learn how to ride easy boxes or small jumps. It is also fun if the weather is bad and you want to get crazy on the long butter box.
Hanazono hosts some freestyle competitions during the season. Some are serious, some are just for fun. Early in the season they usually host a fun box comp for riders of all levels. This is followed by competitions for local riders such as a big air and a slopestyle comp. The more serious competitions are for Japanese juniors, and usually happen in the half-pipe.
Most people come to Niseko to ride powder, enjoy great tree runs, or hit the amazing snow pillows. Hanazono also has its fair share of fun powder fields and tree runs. Off-piste can be accessed when the gates and open and the powder can be unbelievable in there. The run into Hanazono from the peak of Mt Annupuri is truly wonderful, so when its fresh, hike up and give it a try.
The tree runs of Strawberry Fields and Blueberry Fields were made famous by Nicolas Muller in the movie Neverland. The tree runs contain tree features to ride, pillows to air off and endless features covered in deep powder. Because of their easy access and fame, these areas can get chopped up pretty early on, so get out there early.
There is a great ski school in Hanazono, and a very good guiding service. The guides can get you access to the lifts an hour before they open to the public, which will ensure you get fresh pow in Strawberry Fields, all to yourself.
The resort is quiet, and has only a small number of lodges. If you are here purely to get up early and enjoy the skiing or snowboarding, Hanazono is a great option. It does have a very nice cafe at the foot of the hill where you can look out onto the slopes. Its a good place to bring the kids for a day as there is an adventure park as well as nice safe tobogganing or snow-tubing.
Hanazono has great variety, but stands out from other resorts in Niseko because of its half-pipe and park.