- Plenty of terrain for intermediates
- Simple trail layout makes meeting up easy for groups and families
- Has the best 360 degree views of Hakuba Valley
- Wind protection thanks to low elevation and abundance of trees
- No beginners area at base
- Limited advanced runs and no expert terrain
- Limited on-mountain and off-mountain dining options
Like the rest of the resorts around Hakuba Valley, Iwatake serves up that legendary Japanese powder and sees over 30 ft of snow a year. But here, even though the summit offers an unparalleled 360-degree view of the Japanese Alps, its lower elevation and multiple aspects mean you can always find shelter when the wind kicks up. While the nightlife is generally subdued, it does boast Japan’s only ski-in/ski-out brewery!
Narita International Airport
Tokyo station (40 mins)
Nagano via bullet train (2 hours)
Happo Information Center (1.5 hours) or Hakuba Station (1 hour 15 minutes)
Iwatake (10 minutes)
Base of Iwatake (Walk)
- Only a handful of hotels
- Apartment rentals
- Retains an authentic Japanese atmosphere
Hakuba Village (2-3 mi)
- Much wider selection of places to stay than Iwatake
- Larger variety of shops and restaurants
- Free shuttle to Iwatake
With no real learning area for beginners, never-evers might struggle here as they will have to hike up around the base to practice. More experienced beginners can try out Big Bahn off the Rai Pair lift before testing out the more difficult longer trails further up the mountain. Just beware of the more experienced skiers coming back to base!
Intermediates will have plenty of runs to choose from at Iwatake. The Sun Valley course is by far the most popular, a long wide open slope with some narrow sections for speeding through! The intermediate runs off the Gondola Noah are also worth a mention although those looking for a real powder-filled challenge should check out View A or View B on the backside.
While Iwatake doesn't have the steepest slopes nor the most challenging terrain, it's few black trails still provide plenty of fun. Test your limits on the Kamoshika Course, a steep groomed run that's great for fast carving! Otherwise, our other favorites for advanced skiers and snowboarders are the ungroomed View A and View B where you'll find fantastic natural terrain and plenty of pow!
The black trails on the upper mountain has great powder after a dump, otherwise freshies can be easily spotted from the chairlifts! Our top tip is to keep an eye out and remember the lift tower number to find your way there. Just beware some areas are signposted out of bounds area and you could lose your lift pass taken it you're caught by ski patrol.
Ditch the crowds
Iwatake's slopes are generally uncrowded! The only time there might be a rush is at the end of the day when everyone is trying to get back to down the base. The Sun Valley course sees the biggest hit with skiers traffic funneling through. This might become overwhelming for learners and beginners so it's best to take the Gondola Noah back down.
For those who aren't into shredding the slopes, Iwatake offers snowshoeing from the summit as well as cross-country skiing. Away from the slopes, day trips to the nearby Matsumoto Castle and Jigokudani Monkey Park are a must! Other than that, non-skiing activities can be limited.
For families, Iwatake's trail layout makes it easy for members with different abilities to meet up again either at the base or the summit. The best spot for families to ride together are on the wide open slopes near the summit such as South.
|beginner||30 %||40 %|
|intermediate||50 %||30 %|
|advanced||20 %||30 %|
|child lift ticket||Free||Free|
|adult lift ticket||¥4,400 JPY ($39 USD)||¥4,000 JPY ($36 USD)|
|value for money|
|average total snowfall||-||448″|