Hachimantai Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Hachimantai Cat Skiing

Hachimantai Cat Skiing4.7/54
Hachimantai Cat Skiing4.7 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu

Hachimantai Cat Skiing

Overall Rating

Hachimantai Cat Skiing4.7/54
Hachimantai Cat Skiing4.7 out of 5 based on 4 reviews

Hachimantai Cat Skiing Iwate

The Hachimantai CAT offers an awesome chance to score some of that famous Iwate powder. Hachimantai Cat Skiing is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced skiers and riders, with plenty of wide open terrain where you can let the boards rip.

Located in Iwate Prefecture, where the snow is renowned for being abundant and dry, you can combine some Hachimantai snowcat skiing with a soak in a highly renowned onsen (hot spring), local cuisine and plenty of Japanese culture, far away from the hordes hanging out in Nagano and Niigata. Heading to Iwate for Hachimantai cat skiing can be the main event of your Tohoku sojourn, or you can combine it with ski resorts in the area such as Appi Kogen, Hachimantai Shimokura, and Amihari Onsen.

The Hachimantai snowcat has a luxurious cabin with leather seating (all forward facing seats) and nice big windows so you can take in the views, that’s of course if it’s not dumping with snow.

In addition to the 2 day Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips, the cat skiing may be incorporated as part of multi-day bespoke Iwate guiding packages

Where is Hachimantai Cat?

The Hachimantai Cat Skiing sits on the former Hachimantai Ski Area on Mt Chausu whilst the staging area sits adjacent to the Matsuo-Hachimantai Geothermal Power Plant, 12km northwest of Hachimantai Panorama Resort.

The Hachimantai Cat Skiing is located just northwest of the imposing Mt Iwate near the town of Hachimantai in the Iwate Prefecture, close to the border with Akita Prefecture.

There are various other Iwate ski resorts nearby such as Hachimantai Shimokura, Shizukuishi, Amihari Onsen and Appi Kogen so it’s easy to combine the Hachimantai snowcat skiing with another tour or DIY road trip.

The Iwate Prefecture is located in the Tohoku region of Honshu (the main island of Japan).

For the Hachimantai Cat Tour, your guide will look after all the transport logistics from when they pick you up at the Hanamaki Airport or Morioka train station. The latter is a shinkansen station (bullet train) and trains from Tokyo to Morioka take just over 2 hours. See Hyperdia for train timetables and fares or you can purchase a JR Rail Pass.

Hachimantai Cat Ski Terrain

The Hachimantai Cat Tour terrain is not particularly large at 962 hectares, and the vertical drop is 479 metres (967-1,446 m), yet it’s plenty of fun and the region is a snow magnet so resets are frequent. Parts of the terrain are from an old ski resort so there are former piste runs. Other snowcat accessed terrain consists of open bowls, alpine ridges and sub-alpine terrain with widely spaced trees. And to keep it interesting, there are some playful features such as rollers and gullies.

Slope angles are mostly 20-25 degrees, with a range from 15-35 degrees, so the Hachimantai cat skiing is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced riders.

Depending on the conditions, in addition to a snowcat ride, a 5-20 minute traverse or bootpack (ie hike) may sometimes be needed to get the best pow and primo terrain.

Hachimantai Cat Ski Review

There are handful of different companies that provide guiding services for the Hachimantai Cat, so you can get a rather different experience depending on who you go with. We had a rather unique experience whereby we had 2 different guiding companies because we went out with a couple of local tourism dignitaries. The lead guide was Junya, a great local Japanese guide who speaks decent English, but also along on the trip were a couple of the fab international JSTs guides that run these Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips.

The general word on the street is that a few of the other Japanese guides tend to be rather conservative and spend most of the time on the former mellow piste and potentially repeat runs, whereas JST guides & Junya will take you into the trees, on steeper pitches, and if the group’s up for it, will take you on a long traverse to explore some tasty terrain. Also if you go with JST, you get a nice lunch provided, otherwise you have to BYO.

Like most Japanese cat skiing, the Hachimantai Cat Tour differs significantly from cat skiing you typically find in BC Canada. Here the emphasis is on having a ball riding the Japow and enjoying the all-round Japanese experience – two of our favourite pastimes!

Pros

  • The powder is commonly abundant and dry.
  • It’s a fun and relaxed way to score Japow!
  • Many pros are associated with the region:
  • The region has lots of great spots for powder skiing and riding, so you can combine the cat skiing with plenty of other experiences.
  • Hachimantai has some superb hot springs that provide a very traditional onsen experience.
  • The Iwate area is not highly visited by gaijin, and it offers a chance to experience some of the real Japan. And if you stay in a ryokan, you can fully immerse in some genuine Japanese culture.

Cons

  • The terrain size is not particularly large, which is typical of a number of the Japanese cat ski outfits. Thankfully powder resets are usually frequent, but if it hasn’t snowed in a while, the terrain may be somewhat tracked.
  • Some of the guiding is fantastic, but it seems like it depends on which guiding company you get.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective

  • If you’re looking for steep gnarly tree skiing akin to some of the Canadian cat skiing companies, this may not be for you. The terrain ranges from mellow to nicely pitched, which is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced riders.

Terrain
We visited during the start of the 19/20 season, when the snow tide was very low. Nature had been trying to reclaim parts of the old ski resort, and whilst they had chopped down many of the smaller trees and shrubs, there was still plenty of vegetation on the piste which provided plenty of slalom poles. There were also some open zones of varying pitch, and lightly treed areas. There was nothing gnarly yet it was a super fun day.

Snow
Whilst the snowpack wasn’t deep, the quality of the powder on top was lovely which is to be expected for Iwate snow. The aspects vary somewhat, although there is a predominance of southeast facing slopes, so the snow quality could potentially become sun affected towards the end of the season.

Snowcat
The snowcat rides were really comfortable. The spacious lavish seats all faced forwards so there was no sliding backwards onto others when going up the hill, and the cabin had massive windows so there was no fear of getting cat sick. One minor inadequacy relative to some of the world class BC cat skiing outfits was an awkward side entrance where you had to walk on the slippery skids, rather than a back entrance with stairs.

Lodging
We stayed at the Hachimantai Mountain Hotel which is a lovely deluxe hotel with a nice onsen, and meals that are superb if you need a big feast.

Fun Times

11/04/2020

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS.COM

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Admin Rating
    5

Fun Times

11/04/2020
Fun times!
A nice open bowl full of powder
The powder quality was lovely
A mix of tree species
A great Hachimantai onsen adds to the overall experience
Pros
- The powder is commonly abundant and dry.
- It’s a fun and relaxed way to score Japow!

Many pros are associated with the region:
- The region has lots of great spots for powder skiing and riding, so you can combine the cat skiing with plenty of other experiences.
- The region has some superb hot springs that provide a very traditional onsen experience.
- The Iwate area is not highly visited by gaijin, and it offers a chance to experience some of the real Japan. And if you stay in a ryokan, you can fully immerse in some genuine Japanese culture.

Cons
- The terrain size is not particularly large, which is typical of a number of the Japanese cat ski outfits. Thankfully powder resets are usually frequent, but if it hasn’t snowed in a while, the terrain may be somewhat tracked.
- Some of the guiding is fantastic, but it seems like it depends on which guiding company you get.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
- If you’re looking for steep gnarly tree skiing akin to some of the Canadian cat skiing companies, this may not be for you. The terrain ranges from mellow to nicely pitched, which is ideal for strong intermediate to advanced riders.

This review is for Hachimantai Cat overall, rather than specifically for this tour. See our Hachimantai Cat Ski review for more information.

Hachimantai cat skiing

21/03/2020

WILL Davies

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy

WILL Davies

Powder Puppy
Powder Puppy
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Admin Rating
    3

Hachimantai cat skiing

21/03/2020
Stayed at the clubman and had the two days cat and ride tour. Jun is an absolute legend, great skier and excellent guide. Conditions weren't so great everywhere around us but had two epic days with Jun. Found powder on every run. The lodge is amazing. Him his dad run the lodge and prepare all the food. I would definitely go back and do it all again. Loved it🤙

Great experience in spite of challenging weather conditions.

Bill Cutting
29/02/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    USA
  • Admin Rating
    4

Great experience in spite of challenging weather conditions.

Bill Cutting
29/02/2020
When we arrived in Hachimantai, Iwate Prefecture in early February, the weather was already starting to show signs of warming up. Our guides from Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips were ready for just about anything, and the first day (pictured) was bluebird, though the previous week's snow was beginning to suffer the signs of a couple of freeze-thaw cycles. Nonethless, our intrepid guides did their best to search for protected lines and keep the music and round-trips in the cat lively and fun. Unfortunately, they were powerless to protect us from the next two days of drizzling rain. So they acted quickly to change the itinerary from skiing to authentic Japanese B excursions including a crafts village, sake brewery, and a sightseeing train excursion along the west coast and the Sea of Japan. Would we have preferred legendary Japanese powder? Of course. Did HCT show us a great time? You betcha! Do we plan to give Japan skiing another change? Yes, but only if we go with the folks at Hachimantai Ski Tours.

Fun, new CAT Operation.

Phill Grech
15/05/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    3

Fun, new CAT Operation.

Phill Grech
15/05/2019
Friendly Japanese guys running it, they only spoke very basic English, which is to be expected. We had a guide from Japan Ski Tours who came along to translate everything for us.

Most of the terrain was fairly mellow with a few flat spots which were difficult for snowboarders. Overall it was a good day with 5-20cm of quite heavy windblown snow, the staff found new faces for each run and we never crossed our own tracks.

We got really lucky that we had a nice calm day as the whole region seems to cop a lot of wind/bad weather based on our 8 night stay.

Would probably do it again if we were back in the area.

NB We didn't stay at the lodge so that rating is n/a
Hachimantai Cat Ski Packages/Tours
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Hachimantai Cat Ski Trips DETAILS
Price p/p Price per person for 2 days cat skiing & 2 nights at Mountain Hotel twin-share accommodation. Base currency in Japanese yen.
USD 1,395

2 DAYS CAT SKIING, 2 NIGHTS LODGING

10% discount on listed prices if you book before Aug 30
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Advanced
Price p/p Price per person for 2 days cat skiing & 2 nights at Mountain Hotel twin-share accommodation. Base currency in Japanese yen.
USD 1,395
Score yourself some Hachipow with 2 days of Hachimantai cat skiing. Share the cat skiing slopes with only 7 others! Add a couple of days of Hachimantai cat skiing to your Iwate itinerary or make it your main reason to head to the region. More
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Fixed Date(s)
Days
Price
Availability
Fixed Date(s): Jan 18 - Jan 20, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,395
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Jan 27 - Jan 29, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,395
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Feb 01 - Feb 03, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,395
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Feb 08 - Feb 10, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,395
Availability: Available
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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