Hakuba Iwatake3 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    83%
Wagner Custome Skis
Hakuba Alpine Powder Tour

Hakuba Iwatake

Iwatake Ski Resort

Iwatake is one of the ski resorts of the Hakuba Valley. Many of the Hakuba ski areas offer amazing views, but Iwatake is a cut above the rest when it comes to spectacular vistas. From the top of Mt Iwatake there are 360 degree panoramas across to Happo One, the dramatic Japanese Alps, and the Hakuba Valley.

Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort can be characterised as a great ski area for intermediates. Iwatake Ski Resort also has some steep green runs for confident beginners, a popular terrain park, and a smattering of bumps runs and powder lines for experienced riders, although there’s definitely no terrain that’s a sphincter shrinker for experts.

There is a little bit of Iwatake accommodation so it can be used as a base to visit the rest of Hakuba, or with lots of regular free buses to Iwatake Snow Field from various other Hakuba villages, it’s ideal to visit as a day tripper.

Pros and Cons of Iwatake

Pros
  • Iwatake offers amazing scenery on fine days.
  • There is plenty of cruising terrain on offer for high-end beginners and intermediates.
  • Ski school with English speaking instructors is now available with Evergreen Outdoor Adventures and the ski school also offers child care services.
Cons
  • There’s no terrain to really excite experts and at the other end of the spectrum, there are better Hakuba resorts with super mellow terrain for novices.
  • The Hakuba Iwatake snow quality can be affected by warm temps due to the lower elevation relative to other Hakuba Valley ski areas.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • Iwatake and the associated villages have remained somewhat traditional, so this is a nice place to stay to escape the westernised tourism of Happo and Echoland.
  • Much of the lodging provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and is inexpensive, but the nightlife is pretty low key

Hakuba Iwatake Ski and Snowboard Terrain

With 26 courses and 12 lifts, Hakuba Iwatake sort of sounds reasonably big but in reality it’s rather small (or medium sized by Japanese ski resort standards). It’s lower than all of its Hakuba ski resort counterparts with a top elevation of 1,289 metres and it has the second shortest vertical at 539 metres, and only a couple of courses go the full vertical of the ski area. So if you tire easily and love short runs, Iwatake could be perfect!

The official trail statistics are 30% beginner, 50% intermediate and 20% advanced, which probably accurately reflects the proportion of terrain by ability level. In an effort to be progressive, Iwatake has opened up a small area where it’s kosher to ride off-piste and in the trees.

Iwatake Ski Resort is renowned for being quiet relative to Happo One and Hakuba 47/Goryu, and a good spot to visit for a day trip to get a little fresh powder or cruise groomers away from the crowds. However this hasn’t been our experience and we have found the slopes to be pretty choc-a-block.

See the Iwatake skiing page for more information on the terrain and snow.

Where is Iwatake Snow Field?

Although not interconnected via the slopes, the Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort is situated just to the northwest of Happo One ski resort and to the south of Tsugaike ski resort. The base of Iwatake is located only 3.5km northwest of the Hakuba train station, a bus trip that takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

There are also shuttle buses between Iwatake and Happo, Wadano, Echoland, Goryu and Tsugaike. However for those staying in Iwatake trying to get to other ski areas, the bus schedules are not very frequent. Similarly the night bus to/from Iwatake only has a few scheduled times.

See the getting to Hakuba page for more travel information.

Iwatake Accommodation

There are a few Iwatake accommodation options close to the slopes in the little hamlet of Kirikubo including the Hakuba Landmark Iwatake Lodge and Villa Komakusa. A few minutes walk away is the cute little village of Shinden. There is also a dinky little lift at the top of Shinden village that takes you up to the Iwatake slopes.

The Iwatake accommodation is typically inexpensive and consists of rather simple pensions or minshuku (Japanese inns) that have Japanese style rooms with futons on the tatami flooring. Some establishments include dinner and they may or may not have ensuite bathrooms. There are also a couple of Iwatake hotels offering the option of western beds and western food. You can look at availability and rates for Iwatake accommodation here.

The other option is to stay in more mainstream Hakuba accommodation.

Facilities

The ski resort has good facilities including a large cafeteria at the summit serving a range of typical Japanese ski resort fare. It’s called Restaurant Sky Arc, which is where Noah (the name of the gondola) must keep all the animals! The cafeteria also has a ski-osk, or there’s a larger retail shop at the base selling simple ski and snowboard accessories, snacks, drinks and souvenirs. A popular spot for an après snack is the take-away creperie near the base area.

If you haven’t rented your equipment elsewhere (see Hakuba ski rentals) there is a Spicy Rentals shop at the base, or a dodgy looking ski shop across the road from the ski resort if you’re game.

Evergreen Outdoor Adventures offers group ski lessons for English speaking guests including child care services.



Click here for details & bookings

Activities

Activities in the area include the Iwatake No-Yu onsen, snow-shoeing on the trails near the picturesque summit, evening snowcat tours, or cross country skiing on a 3km or 5km course. And kids Iwatake activities include snow rafting and buggy cruises.

Food & Nightlife

Up until recently Iwatake didn't offer any nightlife for westerners, however there are now a couple of offerings including the Hakuba Brew Pub and a bar/night club located near the base area at Iwatake. In addition, there are a few Japanese restaurants around the village.

Click here for details
Click here for details

Tours That May Include Iwatake

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Alps to Coast Tour DETAILS
HAKUBA & MYOKO BC TOUR
9 Nights | Option of 1 Day Cat Skiing | Deluxe Option
From price based on a twin share room for group tour (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,772
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This backcountry tour includes the HAKUBA region with its steep alpine terrain and the MYOKO area which receives big snow falls. Choose from either a side country tour (lift accessed backcountry) or ski touring/skinning backcountry. Option to include a day of cat skiing & option for deluxe accommodation.
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Hakuba Iwatake here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Hakuba Backcountry Powder DETAILS
HAKUBA BACKCOUNTRY TOUR
9 Nights | 8 Days Guided Skiing / Riding
From price based on a twin share room for group tour (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,772
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Most people who visit Hakuba only ever drool at the possible backcountry endless lines from a distance. Explore the steep & deep backcountry terrain of Hakuba with either a lift accessed side country tour or go deep in the backcountry via skinning/split board.
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Hakuba Iwatake here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Hakuba Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE & MIXED GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on a group touring (price displayed is per person).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 158
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry or sidecountry. Tours are for PRIVATE or MIXED GROUPS of up to 5 guests. So get a group together or join a group as a solo traveler, couple or small group.
More
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Hakuba Iwatake here