Oze Iwakura Skiing Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    1,006 – 1,703 (697)
  • Average Snow Fall
  • Lifts (10)
    1 gondola
    2 quad chairs
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - earlyApril
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 16
    Longest run – 3.2 km
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced -30%
The Oze Iwakura Ski Resort is reasonable sized, but only by Japanese standards. It has a respectable number of lifts, but not many more courses (marked trails) than lifts. Oze Iwakura has two main areas. The front side is a big bowl with some long and pitchy runs at the top, and all lines feed back down into the base area where it mellows out. The side face isn’t as big, but it’s much quieter.


The Oze Iwakura lift fleet consists of a gondola, 2 quad lifts, and 7 pair lifts that mostly run at a slow pace. Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, the ski area has shrunk and 2 lifts on the side face have been non-operational since the earthquake.

Oze Iwakura has night skiing on some nights, but only for the little beginner runs near the base.

Oze Iwakura Snow

Often blanketed in fresh snow to form a white world, Oze Iwakura is renowned for having nice snow quality on a powder day. Gunma is somewhat inland and typical storms pass by some BIG mountains, so the snow loses some of its moisture before it falls. The snow falls light and dry and not in massive volumes like in Niigata and Nagano.

The high elevation (1,703m at the top) aids the snow quality. However the Oze Iwakura snow doesn’t always stay in great shape for long, particularly during the fringes of the season, because of the many sunny aspects. Nevertheless there are plenty of aspects to play with, and of course the trees protect the snow from the sun, so you’re sure to find some snow to your liking.

Beginner Skiing Oze Iwakura

Officially beginners 30% of the trails, but you wonder who comes up with these stats because there are really only two beginner runs. These are amazingly wide runs and ideal for learning, except that on weekends they become scary considering the crowds. There is also a green run on the quiet side face of Oze Iwakura, but beginners can’t get to and from there unless they suddenly become an intermediate.

Intermediate Terrain

40% of the piste terrain is dedicated to intermediates, although in terms of run length, it feels like more than this. The best run is a long red run that’s accessed via the gondola. Keep in mind that some of the red runs might be considered “advanced” at other Japanese ski resorts, so in other words, they’re aptly rated! And to add to the fun of the groomers, the resort closes some of the runs in the middle of the day so they can groom them again.

Advanced Skiing Oze Iwakura

Oze Iwakura has 4 black courses that are mostly the domain of skiers who adore testing their knees on steep moguls. Thankfully for everyone else, some of the runs have a narrow groomed section adjacent to the moguls.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Oze Iwakura has some really lovely tree skiing and you don’t have to be a route-finding guru. As to be expected, there are creek beds in some of the gullies pending snow cover, but otherwise the egress is very easy (just avoid the massive concrete barrier on the corner of Milky Way!). The biggest off-piste areas are either side of the Milky Way run, which offers a range of tree skiing with good pitch, but riding this area is dependent on good snow quantity and quality. The Nishimaya area provides the best off-piste skiing in amongst lots of gorgeous trees.

The tree skiing provides lots of variety. Most of the trees are deciduous and there are also small collections of evergreens. Trees spacing varies significantly, as does the degree of shrubbery and undergrowth if there isn’t a lot of snow cover.

Oze Iwakura is a traditional Japanese ski resort whereby barely anyone dares to head off-piste, and it’s highly likely that officially it’s not allowed. Perhaps they don’t expect that anyone would dare ski off-piste, but there are negligible ropes and no skull-and-cross-bone signs. We didn’t have any concerns with ski patrol, but it probably depends on the day. Like at all conservative Japanese ski resorts, play it safe and don’t ski the lift lines which includes the gondola line if you want to remain discrete.


Part of the sidecountry doesn’t feel like “sidecountry” as it’s really just the old part of the ski resort that’s been closed since the woes post March 2011 (rumour has it this has re-opened). A short skin/hike up the ridge from the top lift takes you to some delicious trees and a not so subtle old run. With 15 minutes of uphill work you can get to another old cut run and an abundance of tree lines that feed back to the ski area.

There’s also sidecountry in the other direction that drops into north facing trees, but you can’t go too far before traversing if you want to make it to the saddle of Milky Way without hiking.