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Hakuba Iwatake Ski Holidays

The Iwatake Snow Field’s one of Hakuba’s eleven ski resorts, which together form the biggest bus-linked ski area in Japan. With Tokyo only a 2.5 hour train ride away, you can split your stay between the mountains and capital for an amazing ski and city break.





At a glance: • Hakuba ski resort • 11 nearby ski areas • Ski, city & culture break

Great for: • Ski safaris • Activities

The Iwatake Snow Field’s one of Hakuba’s eleven ski resorts, which together form the biggest bus-linked ski area in Japan. With Tokyo only a 2.5 hour train ride away, you can split your stay between the mountains and capital for an amazing ski and city break.

Hakuba Iwatake Resort

You’ll find Iwatake in mainland Japan, a 2.5 hour train ride from Tokyo. It’s named after the local mountain, from which the surrounding views over the Northern Japanese Alps are some of the best in the region.

The ski slopes of the Iwatake Snow Field total around 17km, and most who visit tend to split their time between these and the ten other ski areas in the Hakuba valley. Including Happo One, Tsugaike Kogen and Hakuba 47, altogether the Hakuba resorts have more skiable terrain (over 200 runs) than anywhere else in Japan.

The Nagano area rose to stardom when it hosted the 1998 Olympics – there’s a ski jumping stadium 5km away from Iwatake and the alpine downhill events were hosted in nearby Happo One. A shuttle bus links the lot, making exploring the area a breeze.

In and around Iwatake, lodgings include hotels and small, family-run inns called Minshuku. You’ll find them scattered around the hamlets of Kirikubo, Shinden, Donguri-mura, Ochikura and Moriue-Shiojima. Some prefer to opt for a more central Hakuba location to explore from.

With some of the best snow in Japan, the beautiful Karamatsu forest and Olympic facilities to try your hand at, a week in the Hakuba Valley could easily be completely and utterly winter-sport focussed. But don’t miss out on the Japanese traditions you can experience over here – from tea ceremonies to bathing in Onsens and visiting temples, this is an incredible part of the world and the culture and history is fascinating.

(Images: JNTO)

Stats & FAQ

Location: Nagano, Japan

Established: 1928

Open: December - March

Downhill: 26 runs, 17km

View our detailed Hakuba Iwatake snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Hakuba Iwatake snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Haneda Airport (HND)304km, 4 hours
Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)344km, 4.5 hours
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 4 runs 30%

  • 8 runs 50%

  • 3 runs 20%

Top Altitude:1289m
Bottom Altitude:750m
Resort Altitude:750m
Longest run:3.3km
Slope Orientation:
Vertical Drop:
Skiable Vertical:
Night Skiing:No

Snow Report

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Web Cam

Hakuba Iwatake web cams
Downhill Runs:26 runs, 17km
Beginner slopes:30%
Advanced slopes:20%
Lift Pass Price: 4400 yen (adult 1 day)
Nearby resorts: Hakuba 47

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Hakuba Iwatake

Beginners and improvers are well looked after on the wide, wonderfully groomed local slopes, with space to practice on South Galande, and the option to link up to the Sun Valley Course for a longer run down to the base. The View C run up top is another favourite, where you can make big, steady turns between the trees.

The Kornestuga course is the main run for intermediates, while experts have the sometimes ungroomed White Ribbon run and Two Top trail. Off piste rules keep changing over here, so check with a local guide or instructor – if permitted, there are some great runs between the trees. For freestylers, there’s a snow park with rails, tables and kickers in all manner of sizes. There are 2 cross country trails, one totalling 5km and the other 3km, both leading through forest and open fields with stunning scenery.

But don’t stop there – once you’ve got your ski legs back, it’s well worth taking the shuttle to visit nearby resorts. Happo One has longer trails in each difficulty level, from the winding Panorama green to the steep Olympic downhills. There’s some good intermediate and expert terrain in 47 as well as a good riding scene for snowboarders Beginners will find more variety of greens in Tsugaike Kogen.

Hakuba Iwatake Apres Ski

Skiing and snowboarding are the tips of the iceberg when it comes to all the snowy activities on offer over here. Snowshoers can complete the View Course which takes you through forest and to some incredible viewpoints, and the Nishi Tsuga course through the amazing Karamatsu beech forest. Last time we checked, all of the Iwatake pistes were open to snow scooters if you fancy a slightly different descent.

We love the traditional Japanese activities you can experience too: attend a traditional tea ceremony, kimonos and all, or spend an evening in an Izakaya (a Japanese pub) gobbling down soba noodles and getting to know the locals. Don’t miss the Onsen hot springs – you can even let the monkeys show you how to do it at Jigokudani Monkey Park, where the animals famously bathe in the warm waters. The Matsumoto Castle and Zenkoji Temple in Nagano city are also well worth a day trip to soak up some Japanese history and see some amazing architecture.

For something more like the usual après ski, the Hakuba Brewing company are based in the middle of the resort, serving ales made from melted snow from the surrounding mountains.

There’s a range of restaurants around Iwatake and the Hakuba area, with popular local spots including Kitchen Chef with pizzas and pasta for families, Montbien for french food and Momo Chan for takeaway crepes. Don’t miss the regional cuisine on offer, like the sashimi, sukiyaki and sushi at the Sierra Hakuba.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Hakuba Iwatake

Best time to visit & ski Hakuba Iwatake

The Hakuba area often gets more snow than anywhere else in Japan, with the annual cover usually topping 10m. While Iwatake doesn’t have the best record of all the valley’s resorts, it’s well connected to them if you need to head out and find better conditions.

In January 2017, Hakuba hosted the first international freeride competition in Asia, and this kind of event is well worth looking out for if you like an extra buzz to your holiday. If you’re visiting in February, look out for the Yukikoi Festival which celebrates all things snowy, or the Happo-One fire festival where ski jumpers fly though flames and there’s a big firework display.

Peak Dates

Visit the illuminations at Goryu and swap your roast dinner for delicious noodles over Christmas in Hakuba Iwatake.

Big countdowns usually happen in Hakuba Goryu, Happo One and Cortina if you’re spending the New Year in Hakuba Iwatake, which is traditionally followed by the New Year’s Day happiness festival in Hakuba 47 and the amazing Goraiko sunrise tour here in Iwatake.

On previous years, Half Term in Hakuba Iwatake has included children’s days, treasure hunts and valentine’s events.

You can do a lot worse than Hakuba’s most scenic mountain on clear spring days, which - if the resort is still open - makes Easter in Hakuba Iwatake spectacular. If the lower slopes are struggling for snow, there are always the ten surrounding resorts to explore.

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Families in Hakuba Iwatake

Whisk the brood to Japan for a change of scenery and combine a cracking ski holiday with a fascinating cultural experience. Spend time exploring the local ski areas – we love the gentle greens in Iwatake and Tsugiake, while Happo One has more testing terrain and 47 is awesome for snowboarders. Put aside days for trips to old Japanese castles and temples, tea ceremonies and pampering onsens. The Jigokudani Monkey Park always goes down swimmingly with children, who’ll love watching the monkeys enjoy their bathtime!

Later on, gather round katsu curries and sushi in the evenings, or try local beers from the Hakuba Brewing Co. One of our favourite ways to spend an evening here is in an Izakaya – a traditional Japanese pub where they serve delicious noodles in a traditional setting.

GroupsGroup Holidays Hakuba Iwatake

There’s no denying Hakuba is one of Japan’s best ski regions, which definitely makes a group trip here one for the bucket list.

Explore a different ski area each day together, or split up depending on whether you prefer pottering on the local slopes, racing around the pistes or shredding in the snowparks. If you’re bringing non skiers, there’s oodles to do from snowshoeing through forests to soaking in onsen.

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