On the north end of Japan’s main island is Iwate Prefecture. If you can picture yourself surrounded by snowy mountains all around while fluffy, dry snow falling from above, that might give you just a small taste of the grand land that is Iwate. Being in northern Japan, Iwate has a cooler climate all year around but especially during the winter months. This provides heavy snow fall that at times might be too much, however, for skiers and snowboarders, that is what produces such fantastic condition. But that’s not all Iwate has to offer, Iwate is abundant in more ways than one.
So what can be expected from a visit to Iwate?
Iwate is full of countryside charm and traditional snow country offerings; including 177 hot spring areas! Especially around the volcanic Hachimantai plateau, there are many hidden natural hot springs which at times is well and truly hidden away due to heavy snow.
To add to the luxurious combination of superb snow and relaxing hot springs, Iwate is also known for its abundance in fresh seafood, with unique produces such as sea urchin or ‘Uni’ and abalone. Given that Iwate is also known as one of the best rice farmers of Japan, the sushi there is on a whole other level of freshness.
What really makes Iwate special is that this area is still unknown by most foreign skiers & snowboarders. It is easy to find uncrowded slopes and to get a more intimate travel experience. You are able to fully appreciate its abundance of snow, hot springs and seafood without the busy rush that surrounds many popular ski areas.
HOW TO GET
From Narita Airport to Tokyo station via JR Narita Express is 1 hour, then from Tokyo station to Morioka station via Shinkansen (bullet train) ‘Hayabasa’ is about 130 minutes.
From Haneda Airport to Tokyo station on the train is 25 minutes, then 130 minutes to Morioka station via Shinkansen (bullet train) ‘Hayabasa’.
*Morioka station is the connecting point for train and bus services to the ski area in Iwate.
SKI RESORT INFORMATION
Be HAPPY In APPI. For fine, light and dry powder snow and the option to choose from 21 trails, head to Appi Kogen Ski Resort. This is one of the largest ski resorts in Japan and should certainly be on you itinerary when you visit Iwate. From long runs to both groomed and un-groomed runs, there’s plenty to choose from for skiers and snowboarders of all levels of ability. The whole resort is very accessible with 16 lifts, including 2 gondolas and 3 quad lifts.
If you’re visiting Iwate with people of mix of experience levels, head over to the Hachimantai Resort. The resort is split up into two areas: Panorama ski area, which is family and beginner friendly that also features a long 2,700m trail. Or for more experienced and advanced skiers, the Shimokura ski area is the place to be. This resort also offers a range of lessons including skiing and snowboarding which is perfect if you are taking young ones and beginners with you.
Shizukushi Ski Resort
Thrill seekers and advanced level skiers will want to make a visit to Shizukushi Ski Resort, where the World Alpine Ski Championship was held back in 1993. The 4,500 m downhill trail that was used in the championships is the main attraction of the resort, especially to advanced skiers. But there are plenty for other levels of abilities as well. On the weekends the resort offers night skiing which makes for a beautiful and memorable experience on the slopes.
Amihari Onsen Ski Resort
The Amihari Onsen Ski Resort is surrounded by nature and comes with fantastic views of Mt. Iwate and Hachimantai. The resort is located within the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, on the slopes of Mt. Inukura. This is a great place to enjoy the rich natural landscape of Iwate while skiing or snowboarding. There are only 7 trails here but the longest downhill run is 5km. 50% of the trails available are beginner friendly, plus they have a kids area as well as a family run.
Iwate Kogen Snow Park
Located on the southern slopes of Mt. Iwate, Iwate Kogen Snow Park is equally great for all levels, but especially for families. Children under the age of 12 can enter free of charge at this park, and with plenty of beginner and kids friendly slopes and facilities, parents can also comfortably enjoy their time out on the slopes as well. There are 6 lifts in total at this resort, including a gondola which will take you up to the peak at 1,213m.