Amihari Onsen3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Wagner Custome Skis
Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu

Amihari Onsen Iwate Prefecture
Amihari Onsen Iwate Prefecture
Fresh powder off-piste (in-bounds)
Fresh powder off-piste (in-bounds)
Mellow tree skiing at Amihari Onsen
Mellow tree skiing at Amihari Onsen
Amihari doesn't have much on-piste skiing
Amihari doesn't have much on-piste skiing
Amihari Ski Resort Iwate
Amihari Ski Resort Iwate
The backcountry looks rather tasty
The backcountry looks rather tasty
Low frills amenities at the day lodge
Low frills amenities at the day lodge
Amihari Onsen Hotel is slope side
Amihari Onsen Hotel is slope side
Looky looky just over there!
Looky looky just over there!
Short skins can get you in and out of great terrain
Short skins can get you in and out of great terrain
Amihari Onsen Skiing
Amihari Onsen Skiing
Little competition for fresh tracks
Little competition for fresh tracks
Fumaroles in the adjacent bowl
Fumaroles in the adjacent bowl
One of the trails around the top is rather flat for snowboarders
One of the trails around the top is rather flat for snowboarders
Amihari Onsen Resort
Amihari Onsen Resort
Ski Amihari Onsen
Ski Amihari Onsen
Amihari ski terrain
Amihari ski terrain
Gorgeous sunrise view from the hotel
Gorgeous sunrise view from the hotel

Amihari Onsen

Amihari Onsen Ski Resort in Iwate near Shizukuishi is a little gem of an old-school ski area with simple facilities. Amihari Ski Resort is probably one of those Japanese ski areas that we’d all like to keep as a secret, but it feels like it’s on the brink of bankruptcy so a few more visitors wouldn’t go astray. You’d better get there soon just in case it becomes like some of those other Japanese ski resorts that have had a sad demise.

Amihari Onsen is not one of those Japanese ski resorts that has become westernised, so don’t expect modern apartments, English speaking staff, international ski school, or raging nightlife. Amihari Onsen is the perfect place for cultural immersion, powder immersion and onsen immersion – our favourite sort of Japan ski resort!

Summary of Pros and Cons of Amihari Onsen

Pros
  • Like many other Iwate ski resorts, competition for the fresh powder is highly likely to be zilch.
  • Barely anyone goes there, so lift queues are unlikely to ever be a problem either.
  • Lift tickets are cheap, especially on weekdays. Accommodation provides good value for money, and lunch at the cafeteria and vending machine drinks are dirt cheap!
  • Amihari Onsen makes a great base to explore other Iwate ski resorts (and Tazawako), which are also good little spots for powder hounds.
Cons
  • Amihari Ski Resort is only small and it really only packs a punch when there is no or negligible other powder chasers there. If there’s a tour group there, perhaps head next door or to another nearby ski resort.
  • The chair lifts are rather antiquated (undoubtedly they’re not selling enough lift tickets to upgrade them!) and a bit on the slow side.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Very little Engrish is spoken in these parts.
  • Amihari Ski Resort provides access to some serious backcountry skiing on Mt Iwate and equally serious sidecountry skiing if you’re very avy savvy and good at sniffing out fumaroles.
  • You’ll want to have a car to visit Amihari Onsen or be on a multi-day tour that includes transport.
  • Besides skiing or snowboarding, onsen soaking, having dinner and a drink or two from the vending machine, and belting out tunes in the karaoke room, there is very little to do at Amihari Onsen.

Amihari Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Amihari Onsen is not a big ski resort with only 8 courses (officially) although we could only count 6 proper trails and 4 little inter-connections, which doesn’t add up to 8! The vertical of 710m (640 - 1,350m) is serviced by 3 almost consecutive pair lifts that are definitely not express chairs, but they don’t run at a snail’s pace either. A 4th chair is supernumerary and runs parallel to the lowest chair. Perhaps they run it when it’s busy, but we can’t imagine that would be ever!

Officially the trail stats are 50% beginner, 35% intermediate and 15% advanced, but it’s unlikely that you’d ever come to Amihari Onsen to spend your time just riding the piste. And as you’d expect for a Japanese ski resort, nothing is particularly steep, with a short section of a purple run (yes purple, not black!) hitting 37 degrees momentarily.

Off-piste skiing is prohibited but there are some treed areas far enough away from the lifts so as to not attract attraction. Don’t be an idiot and ride the lift line (like we saw a gaijin doofus do)! The off-piste tree skiing is rather mellow, but it has enough lumps and bumps to keep it interesting (keep an eye out for the evergreen tree wells).

The sidecountry to skiers’ right provides long shots and fun trees, whilst skiers’ left sidecountry is reasonably narrow without heading into the side of the big bowl. This magnificent bowl is functionally sidecountry or slackcountry (little skinning/hiking to get in and out) but it definitely skis like the serious backcountry and should only be contemplated by experienced BC riders (we saw the same doofus from above jumping off one of the cornices onto a very very wind loaded slope – luckily no one was below!). The unloaded left side of the bowl sits alongside Iwate Kogen Ski Resort and a little hiking leads to steep gnarly chutes. The middle of the bowl is the least steep but is a mega terrain trap. Also take care of the fumaroles and the many glide cracks.

Amihari Snow

This is a classically Japanese ski resort where they just take all the snow for granted and don’t waste any time measuring how much falls each season! The snowfall volumes are probably very good without quite being in the realm of Geto Kogen or Tazawako.

The aspect isn’t the best for snow quality, with the slopes mostly facing south, but there are enough trees to protect the snow in most places. On the plus side, the top elevation of Amihari Onsen is pretty high for an Iwate ski resort.

Where is Amihari Onsen?

Amihari Onsen ski resort sits on the southwestern flank of the dramatic Mt Iwate in the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Amihari is situated in the NW part of Iwate Prefecture, 21km north of the town of Shizukuishi, and 31km northwest of Morioka City.

Amihari Onsen is adjacent to Iwate Kogen Snow Park (not quite interconnected via the slopes) which is 3.3km by road to the east, whilst Shizukuishi Ski Resort is 15km to the south.

It is possible to get to Amihari Onsen via a one hour bus ride from the Morioka train station, although there are only 5 schedules per day and the bus drops you a few minutes walk from the hotel.

Having a rental car is the easiest way to get to Amihari Onsen (the phone number for GPS navigation is 019-693-2211) and provides flexibility to get to the other Iwate ski resorts. Or being on a guided tour is a very easy way to get to Amihari.

Amihari Onsen Accommodation

Amihari Onsen Hotel (Kyukamura Iwate Amihari Onsen) is located slopeside at the base of the Amihari ski resort. Whilst you can't technically ski in and out of the hotel, it is very close to the main access lift. The hotel offers western or Japanese tatami rooms with private toilet, whilst bathing is at one of the onsen baths onsite (which include small open air baths). You can see our Amihari Onsen Hotel review for more information.

Or about 2km from Amihari Onsen is the Iwateyama Pension Village where you’ll find economical pensions that offer meals, or you could stay over at the Shizukuishi Ski Resort.

Iwate Accommodation Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

The facilities at the day lodge at the base of the ski area are very low key. Bad coffee and snacks are available downstairs, whilst a large cafeteria upstairs sells very inexpensive ramen, curries and other typical ski resort food. There is a small retail shop and ski rentals are available, but they look like they’ve been borrowed from a retro day party. Ski lessons (every day) and snowboard lessons (only weekends) are on offer with Japanese speaking instructors, and apparently they also offer backcountry tours.

Ski Tours That May Include Amihari

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Frontier Explorer DETAILS
GUIDED SAFARI - NORTHERN HONSHU
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
From price based on twin-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,610
Book before Aug 31 2018 to get 20,000 yen off the advertised price.
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Trying to get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow? Away from the masses you will experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu.
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Powder Odyssey DETAILS
GUIDED SAFARI - TOHOKU
7 Nights | 6 Days Guided Skiing
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,862
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are looking to go off-the-beaten track in Tohoku (northeastern Honshu) where there are abundant lines of fresh powder and no foreigners, this tour is perfect! Visit Tohoku ski areas you've probably never heard of before and immerse yourself in the Japanese culture.
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Iwate Package DETAILS
AMIHARI + SHIZUKUISHI + IWATE KOGEN + CAT
6 Nights Customisable
Sample price is based on 6 night package, twin-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Price may vary slightly to actual due to exchange rate fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,178
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
This 6 night tour offers skiers & boarders the opportunity to access ski areas less frequented by westerners; Shizukuishi, Amihari & Iwate Kogen plus a 3-run cat skiing morning at a deserted ski area. Tours can be customised & start any day from mid December to March with a minimum of only 2 people required to run.
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Amihari Onsen here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Iwate Guided Day Trips DETAILS
IWATE GUIDED SKI & SNOWBOARDING DAY TRIPS
PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY | Max group of 6 per guide
Price is per person based on a group of 6 (full price is 6 x this rate).
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Displayed price may vary slightly due to currency fluctuations
Price p/p
USD 82
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
If you are heading to the Iwate region these PRIVATE GROUP guided day tours are a must! In-resort powder hunting, lift-access sidecountry & backcountry touring are all options. Resorts include Shizukuishi, Getto Kogen, Tazawako, Hachimantai Shimokura & Panorama, Amihari, Iwate Snow Park & Appi Kogen.
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Amihari Onsen here