This article was written by the Morioka Regional Development Bureau of Iwate Prefecture, and translated by Amanda Wayama.

Right now, the mountains are full of the leaves all starting to turn fall colors, but once you start to see the autumn leaves in the city, the mountains will already have seen their first dusting of snow.

1. Skiing

Iwate’s winters are cold, with lots of snow. But that’s why we have so many things to look forward to in the wintertime – for instance, skiing. In Iwate, there are a number of ski resorts, including some that are very popular with foreign guests including Appi Kogen, Shizukuishi, and Geto Kogen.

From Morioka City, the capital of Iwate, the closest ski slope is the Shizukuishi Ski Resort, about 40 minutes away by car. That’s right – here in Iwate, you only need a day trip to enjoy the slopes. For someone who loves to ski or snowboard, this is a wonderful place to live –people have even moved here in order to ski to their heart’s content!

(Pictures: (Up) Appi Kogen Ski Resort in Hachimantai, (Down) Shizukuishi Ski Resort in Shizukuishi Town)

What we’re most proud of is our powder snow. It is the best feeling in the world to ski down one of these slopes, the wind in your face, and this powdery winter wonderland stretching before your eyes.

While of course there are many beginner courses, there’s plenty for advanced skiiers to enjoy – like non-compacted snow and tree run zones. You can rent equipment at the ski resorts, so if you visit Iwate in the winter, how about trying out some of the best our slopes have to offer?

These resorts also have great food, like some world-class ramen noodles. It’s also a fantastic idea to pop into the hot springs after your ski to soothe any aching muscles.


2. Snowshoe Trekking

If you enjoy mountain hikes and walks, then you can try the trekking courses on our winter mountains.

(Picture: Appi Kogen Snow Trekking Course)

Normal boots and shoes will sink into the snow, which is why we use walking skis or snowshoes (or even traditional Japanese snowshoes called “kanjiki”).

The weather can change on a dime in the winter mountains, so you must prepare yourself – beginners should go with experienced friends or a guide. (The ski resorts have guided tours available)


3. Awesome photos for your Instagram


In the mountains of Iwate, you’ll be treated to these winter sights:

(Pictures: “Snow monsters” in Hachimantai at noon and night)

These mysterious figures kind of look like white cacti having a party, or dinosaurs marching in step with each other. This is natural phenomena called rime ice, where water vapor from the atmosphere clings to trees and then freezes. Those white cacti are actually trees. Pretty interesting, right?

Iwate’s winters are cold, but as I’ve shown, there’s so much to enjoy during the season.

I hope you’ll get to experience it yourself one day!

Ski Kingdom Iwate (Iwate’s ski resorts) *Sorry, in Japanese only

Visit Iwate (Iwate’s multilingual tourism portal)












スキー王国いわて(岩手県のスキー場紹介サイト) ※日本語のみ