Okunakayama Kogen

Okunakayama Kogen Ski Resort Iwate
Lovely quality snow at Okunakayama Kogen
Ideal beginners terrain near the base
Okunakayama Kogen
The lifts are all fixed grip doubles
Hanging with the locals
Okunakayama Kogen
Okuna Kayama Kogen Ski Area
Little competition for fresh lines
It's a reasonably small ski area
Okunakayama Kogen Iwate
Center House
The facilities cover all the basics
The cafeteria at Center House
The ice-creamery at Okunakayama Kogen
Hotel Okunakayama Kogen
Center House Okunakayama
Okunakayama Kogen Japan
Fruit & vegetables at the Asaake No Yu
Small retail shop

Okunakayama Kogen

Readers Ratings

Okunakayama Kogen

Okunakayama Kogen3.5/51
Okunakayama Kogen3.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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  • Would Revisit
Powder Odyssey - chase the powder in Northern Honshu
Okunakayama Kogen is a joyous little ski resort in Iwate Prefecture that feels like a private ski resort on weekdays, where rivalry for fresh powder is approximately zilch. We sort of didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag on the Okunakayama Kogen Ski Resort, but it could do with a lot of financial support, so it would be selfish to keep all the powder to ourselves.

Okuna Kayama Kogen is a classic Japanese ski resort and has a great local ski-jo vibe, but it has some gaijin benefits such as English signage about the place, thanks to it being frequented by American folks from the Misawa Air Base.

You could stay at Okunakayama Kogen for a couple of nights if you wanted to get away from it all, or it’s ideal for a day trip as part of a DIY road trip or multi-day guided tour.

Pros and Cons of Okunakayama Kogen

  • Okunakayama Kogen might look old-school but it has a modern and liberal approach to off-piste skiing and sidecountry skiing.
  • The ski area has sections of in-bounds trees that are pretty easy to navigate.
  • There is a good chance that you’ll have the powder in the trees all to yourself.
  • Lift tickets are really cheap, and accommodation and meals packages are dirt cheap too.
  • Okunakayama Kogen Ski Resort is reasonably small so it wouldn’t take many riders to smash the powder pretty quickly.
  • Other than for beginners, the piste terrain possesses very little variety and there's not much pitch.
  • The lift infrastructure consists of slow fixed grip double chair lifts, so you’ll need to embrace an unhurried approach to “chasing” powder.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • Okunakayamakogen usually has really good snow quality yet due to its easterly position it doesn’t get the same snow volumes as ski resorts closer to the west coast.

Okunakayama Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Like a lot of local Japanese ski hills, Okunakayama Kogen is not very big and has only 11 courses and 358 metres of vertical (650 – 1,018m). It has 5 slow pair lifts, although on weekdays only 3 lifts may be running.

It has a typical Japanese ski hill shape with mellow terrain at the base and steeper terrain further up. It’s a great place for beginners but it’s not so good for progression. There is only one red run (if lift #3 is running) that doesn’t first start as a black run, so timid intermediates may find the top of the runs too steep. Okunakayama has a few black runs, but none of them are very challenging.

Like most Japanese skiing, the real fun for advanced riders is in the easy to navigate trees in the off-piste, sidecountry from the giant soccer ball, and also some road runs. The major proviso is the amount of sasa grass. Whilst the resort is doing some work to machete the jungle, without a significant snow base you may spend a bit of time getting bamboozled.

Okunakayama Kogen Snow

The ski resort doesn’t usually receive copious amounts of snow by Japan ski resort standards, and the base only gets up to about 1.5 metres in an average season (unlike some ski areas that get up to 4-5 metres), so not all the bamboo may be lying down.

The quality of the snow is usually very good and has low moisture content due to its location far away from the west coast. The snow is well retained due to decent elevation and the slopes have an east to northeast aspect.

Where is Okunakayama Kogen?

The ski resort is located in Iwate Prefecture between Ichinohe and Iwate towns. Okunakayama Kogen is about 52km north of the city of Morioka (one hour drive), and 39km northeast of Appi Kogen.


Hotel Okunakayama Kogen is located in the Center House at the main base of the ski resort. The hotel has Japanese tatami rooms with ensuite for up to 4 people, quad rooms with 4 single western beds with ensuite and kitchenette, and twin rooms with 2 single western beds with private bathrooms. The hotel has an onsen onsite.

Just across the car park is a simpler hotel with rooms that utilise shared bathrooms that include an onsen.

Otherwise you could stay in a Morioka hotel as a base for your road trip, or nearby in a Hachimantai hotel or Appi Kogen accommodation.

Ski Resort Facilities

The Center House offers basic equipment rentals, ski and snowboard school, a small gift shop, a cafeteria with some great ramen, and two kids’ snow play areas out the front. Whilst I’ve never quite understood the attraction of ice-cream in winter, a must-do is to head to the Yuki Akari ice-creamery for milk based ice-cream with lots of yummy flavours.


The Center House at the base of the ski area has an onsen, Kiraboshi No Yu. The onsen baths are quite large and offer nice views, although there is no rotenburo (outdoor bath). The water is slightly recirculated, so it’s not considered a primo onsen.

For exceptional water quality head across the parking areas to Asaake No Yu where you’ll find indoor and outdoor onsen baths that are aesthetically adequate and have special zapping effects that give you a bit of a shock (literally) when you don’t expect it. The relaxation room has divine massage chairs.
Tours That May Include Okunakayama

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Frontier Explorer
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Areas + Cat Skiing
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Get away from the crowds & the tracked out snow, and also experience Japanese culture, food & unlimited powder on this Tohoku tour. Chase the best snow on the day in the far northern parts of Honshu. Share
Price p/p From price based on twin-share room occupancy for 2021 season.
Base/invoice currency is in yen not including consumption tax.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 2,967
View Details
 Early bird special: 10% discount off listed price until Aug 31. Plus cancel any time for any reason up to Aug 31 for 100% refund.
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Okunakayama Kogen here