Iwanai

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Iwanai Resort Hokkaido
Iwanai Resort Hokkaido
Views across the water
Views across the water
Iwanai Ski Resort Hokkaido
Iwanai Ski Resort Hokkaido
The day lodge has been upgraded
The day lodge has been upgraded
Iwanai Ski Resort is serviced by one chair lift
Iwanai Ski Resort is serviced by one chair lift

Iwanai

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Iwanai

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Iwanai Resort is a small ski area near Niseko that’s most well known for the Iwanai Cat Skiing that operates in the area above the lift serviced terrain. The Iwanai Ski Resort is mostly patronised by local families from the town of Iwanai, yet the ski area could also be an option for beginners who want to learn on uncrowded slopes and/or if someone in your group is out cat skiing for the day.

Pros and Cons of Iwanai Ski Resort

Pros 
  • The Iwanai ski resort is very quiet and a great place for beginners to learn in peace.
  • It’s a nice spot to meet local families.
  • The main event for powder hounds is getting fresh powder lines with Iwanai Cat Skiing.
  • On fine days the ocean views from the slopes are lovely, albeit distracting if you’re trying to master the art of skiing or snowboarding.
  • If you stay for a couple of nights in a ryokan you can soak in the onsen and lap up an authentic Japanese experience – it’s the complete antithesis to Niseko.
Cons
  • Iwanai is a very small ski area and it only has piste terrain for beginners and low-end intermediates.
  • There are no snowsports lessons available. 

Iwanai Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Iwanai Ski Resort is just a tiny little thing with 1 double chair lift, 3 trails and 170 metres of vertical (220 - 390m). The courses are groomed and are suitable for beginners progressing onto intermediate, with 2 trails having a maximum gradient of 17 degrees and the other topping out at 15 degrees. Off-piste opportunities are often rather limited due to the density of the trees, but there's nothing stopping you from trying to pick the eyes out of it or doing a not-so-sneaky run under the lift.

The Iwanai lift serviced terrain used to be more significant and the cat skiing outfit now utilises the upper slopes as well as the off-piste and what would have been considered sidecountry.

As to be expected considering the limited infrastructure on offer, the lift passes are very inexpensive. In addition to day passes, there are 2 hour and 4 hour tickets.

Iwanai Snow

Iwanai Resort receives an abundance of snow due to its proximity to the west coast of Hokkaido. In the upper elevations of the resort the snow volumes are thought to be about 15 metres per season. Cold temperatures plus perfectly north facing slopes contribute to snow that’s usually of great quality.

Where is Iwanai Ski Resort?

Iwanai Resort is located 5km south of the town of Iwanai, which sits on the western coast of Hokkaido Japan. Iwanai Resort is 40km by road northwest of Hirafu in Niseko, a drive that takes about 45 minutes.

The telephone number for GPS navigation is 0135-62-6011. If you’re driving from Niseko to Iwanai, travel to Kutchan and take Highway 5 north towards Otaru. After a small pass, take Highway 276 west towards the coast. Once in Iwanai town you can follow the signage or the GPS. Parking is located just below the day lodge and is free.

There are no buses to get to Iwanai, although if you’re going cat skiing, transport to and from your Niseko accommodation can be provided.

Iwanai Accommodation

Many visitors just day trip to Iwanai from Niseko and stay in Niseko accommodation, which is mostly very westernised, however staying in Iwanai in a ryokan for a couple of nights can provide a lovely Japanese cultural experience and a chance to get away from the hubbub of Niseko.

The Iwanai Kogen Hotel is 450 metres from Iwanai Resort. This 3-star Japanese hotel offers western/Japanese combo rooms (western single beds and Japanese tatami sitting area) and Japanese tatami rooms with futons on the floor, and all rooms have an ensuite bathroom. Or you can soak in the onsen, with indoor and outdoor baths that look out to the sea. Impressive multi-course dinners showcase the local Iwanai seafood, whilst breakfast also provides an opportunity to sample Japanese cuisine.

Facilities

The day lodge at the base of the Iwanai Ski Resort has had an update. Downstairs is a cafeteria that serves both Japanese and western cuisine and the highly renowned feature item is a wagyu burger. Upstairs is a small bar where you can partake in a sake or beer and play pool or hang-out in the chill zone.

The equipment rental shop includes some reasonably modern gear, and ski and snowboard tuning and servicing is available.

The town of Iwanai is rather cute and has lots of seafood restaurants. A visit to the museum that has the largest private Picasso collection in Asia should also be on the cards.

Cat Skiing Tours

Iwanai Cat Skiing Day Package
MIXED GROUP DAY CAT SKIING
8 - 10 Runs (Approx 4,600m vertical/day)
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Iwanai Cat Skiing serves up powder runs of 325-650m of vertical bliss, with 8 to 10 runs for the day. Located near Niseko, the Iwanai Resort snowcat skiing terrain scores masses of snowfall. Ideal for strong intermediate & advanced riders.
Price p/p Price is per person per day
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations. Price includes 8% sales tax
AUD 1,056
View Details
 
Iwanai Cat Skiing Multi-Day
MULTI DAY CAT SKIING
2 Days Cat Skiing | 1 Night Accommodation | Meals
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Iwanai Cat Skiing offers 2 day/2 night packages so you can experience Hokkaido powder along with Japanese culture. Stay in a Japanese ryokan inn, soak in the onsen, and enjoy a traditional kaiseki meal. Located near Niseko, the Iwanai Resort snowcat skiing terrain scores lots of snow.
Price p/p Price is per person for 2 day 1 night trip
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese Yen
Displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations.
AUD 2,375
View Details
 
See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Iwanai here
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