Overall Rating

Hakuba Iwatake

Hakuba Iwatake3/57
Hakuba Iwatake3 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    86%

Hakuba Iwatake - Reviews

Hakuba Iwatake - Reviews

Instructor's View of Iwatake - A Midwinter Day's Dream

Big Red17/06/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    N/A
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50

Instructor's View of Iwatake - A Midwinter Day's Dream

Big Red17/06/2019
A local's favorite during midwinter. Iwatake has a bit of beginner terrain, some nice groomed intermediate/advanced terrain, a short but fantastic DC sponsored park and the secret powder gem of Hakuba, the Iwatake Back Bowl. Grab some gastro pub cuisine and a local craft beer at Hakuba Brewery to cap off to the perfect day of uncrowded shredding mid winter.

Iwatake is at a lower elevation which means it's season is a bit shorter and will only be open from December to March every year. But, due to lower elevation, when the Japan wind comes up and closes most of the valley's top lifts, Iwatake usually remains open and untouched.

While back bowls are extremely popular in North America, Japan has yet to realize the beauty of a single lift and an entire backside of a resort, basically ungroomed and untouched by the hoardes. It's a simple concept really and a great way for a resort to open up terrain and make money with fairly minimal effort and environmental impact. All the infrastructure is in place except the building of one lift and possibly some glading work, no restaurant or accommodation needed as they all exist on the front side. To be honest Iwatake's backbowl is not quite as steep as a powderhound would like but the range of terrain features and lack of competition are second to none. It's also very lightly patrolled and it just becomes a rider's playground with hoots and hollers echoing through the valley. The natural half-pipe and tree runs are highly recommended. On a powder day, the likes of Cortina, Happo, etc are always jam packed, and there is little Iwatake patiently waiting to be sniffed out by the powderhounds.

Intermediate groomers are the other main order of business along with some decent higher level beginner terrain near the bottom. First timers will be upset by the lack of a magic carpet, although English lessons are available and passes are cheap. The gondola is fast and the local deer can be spotted in the little Iwatake valley if you keep your eyes peeled. A large group of snow monkeys live in forest either side of the hot spring as well.

The only real drawback are weekends when the Japanese youth racing teams, parents, coaches, etc take over the base and lines get longer near the base.

With the great Hakuba Brewery and quiet powdery back bowl, this is very much a local's mountain. Accommodation is cheap as chips and there is a little one man, "pizza chair" that brings you up to the ski resort lifts in the morning and back down again to your hot spring hotel in the afternoons. There is also a little mom and pop ramen shop in a wooden building just across the road in front of the gondola that is second to none in the valley.

Highly recommended for a step away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger resorts in the valley. Also a good quiet base for families. Insider's tip, put your children in English ski lessons here and you will more than likely get a private lesson for the group rate. Two gorgeous snowshoeing courses, one short and one long, are also available for those interested.

Lots of Moguls

POWDERHOUNDS.COM23/07/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    December

Lots of Moguls

POWDERHOUNDS.COM23/07/2018
We read in a couple of Hakuba marketing pamphlets that the Iwate Ski Resort doesn’t really develop moguls due to the high proportion of snowboarders and frequent powder resets. What a joke! Firstly the trail map outlines specific mogul courses. When we visited a powder reset had just occurred, yet every black run was a mess of moguls. And by a mess, I mean the droopy misshapen lumps that snowboarders leave in their wake, which weren’t very appealing. The supposed tree runs were also mogulled up. It just emphasized to us that the main joy of Hakuba is the sidecountry and backcountry.

And true to form, the snow quality had deteriorated and down low, it had turned rather slushy. They must sell a lot of lift tickets at Iwatake, yet most of the lift fleet remains rather antiquated. Luckily the views never get old.

Pros for Iwatake were the very wide runs that were coping reasonably well with the crowds, and at least the runs were less busy than those at Happo One. Another pro was the addition of the Hakuba Brew Pub, in a ski-in ski-out position at Iwatake. The décor was delightfully charming and the food and beer very good.

We haven’t rated Iwatake particularly highly (nor a couple of the other Hakuba ski areas) and Iwatake is good to visit for a day only, but the ski area really needs to be considered as part of a much bigger and better package aka Hakuba Valley.

You can also see our Japanese ski resort ratings to see how we rate Iwatake compared with other areas.

A surprisingly fun day trip!

Tom S01/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    January

A surprisingly fun day trip!

Tom S01/02/2018
We visited Iwatake mid-week whilst staying in the Sakka area of Happo-One. Really easy 10 min bus ride from Sakka area had us there by 8am. Much less crowded than Happo-One but still lot's of Australians. We spent most of our day lapping the peak lifts and found some nice fresh snow in the trees off Iwatake View 2 lift, even though it hadn't snowed over night. Nothing crazy steep here, more cruisey intermediate runs or short but sweet tree runs of the top lifts. The little terrain park wasn't really worth the slow lift it takes to lap it.

We had a delicious ramen across the road from the lift office, and then walked across the car park to the onsen which was a great way to end the day. Then easy shuttle bus back to Happo. Most people seem to go straight to Cortina or Tsugaike Kogen after a big dump, leaving the fresh snow at Iwatake to last a bit longer. Oh, almost forgot about the Hakuba Brewery you can literally ski to at the bottom of the beginners area! Expensive food but tasty beers.

On a powder day, get here early, ski the trees at the top until lunch and then have an onsen and eat some delicious ramen!

Sneaky little off piste area

John Rehfisch17/10/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Month Visited:
    January

Sneaky little off piste area

John Rehfisch17/10/2016
Have been there a few times from Hakuba and have not stayed on mountain. Only small areas for off piste but have had fun in those areas when I have been. Snow was good when I visited which always colours your view.

A lot of fun to be had here

J. House20/11/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February

A lot of fun to be had here

J. House20/11/2015
I'm a snowboarder who loves to seek out powder and fun little off-piste runs, and Iwatake is perfect for that. Definitely less of a crowd here than its closely located big brother, Happo-One, which is fine with me because that usually means a lot shorter lift lines at Iwatake. When you ask the locals where they go, at least 80% of the ones I've spoken with have season passes for Iwatake. Generally shorter lines and crowds here, but also less terrain and less challenging, so if you're looking for steep walls this is not the place for you, however there are a few hidden gems here. There are great views from the top on clear days, as well as a friendly staff.

Access to the mountain is another plus, its not that far from the nightlife in Echoland or Wadano near Happo so if you're staying near Iwatake you do have options for fairly closeby nightlife.

Ewatakeeeee

Jarrod Diermajer22/06/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35

Ewatakeeeee

Jarrod Diermajer22/06/2015
Being a snowboarding who loves powder lines and fun little off-piste jumps, i found Iwatake to have some well suited terrain for my needs. Iwatake is all about going off-piste, so if your all about your long groomed runs then Iwatake probably wont be suited for you. When your at the top of the mountain, it has a great view of the Hakuba region overlooking the Happo-one mountain.

Access to the mountain is another plus with it only being a short (10 min) bus ride from the Happo info centre.

Cruisy Vistas

POWDERHOUNDS.COM25/04/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50

Cruisy Vistas

POWDERHOUNDS.COM25/04/2014
Iwatake is a superb place to head on a sunny day for cruising about. The only problem is that half of Hakuba (and Tokyo on weekends) may also have the same idea. Iwatake is supposed to have a reputation for being much quieter than Happo-One and Hakuba 47, but when we visited it was packed. There were lots of sardines down the red runs, and lift lines at the gondola and the 5 Side chair.

There’s a bit of off-piste terrain at Iwatake that’s worth discretely having a crack at, and the powder can remain untouched for some time. There are better resorts in Hakuba for off-piste terrain, but the downside of those is that they are more inclined to attract other powder hounds.

Lots of Japanese ski resorts only passively manage avalanche risk and Iwatake is no different. When we visited there was a massive crack in the View B run so it was closed off (god knows for how long) thereby taking away some of the best piste terrain.

Other pros and cons of Iwatake are outlined on the overview page.