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Hachimantai: Insider Ski & Snowboard Tips
While there are two resorts to choose from at Hachimantai, for intermediate and advanced riders, Hachimantai Shimokura is the pick with more terrain to choose from and steeper pitches, the greatest a not inconsiderable 37 degrees. This can be contrasted with next door beginner Panorama ski area where the average pitch is only 12 degrees. Once at Shimokura, advanced riders will want to spend the majority of their day lapping the top two lifts (though there are only three all up) and accessing the three new (as of 2019) off-piste powder tree zones. If doing so, you’ll need to declare those intentions at the base of the resort and sign in to collect an arm band. You’ll also be required to wear a helmet so be sure to bring one or be prepared to rent.
For the even more adventurous, there is ample terrain for ski touring beyond the resort and surrounding Mt. Iwate, and a number of guiding operations willing to take you there.
Hachimantai (Shimokura and Panorama) ski resort is 15km west of Hachimantai town in the Iwate prefecture. The main point of access is through Morioka, a major city just shy of 50km away from the resorts. You can board a shinkansen (the Hyabusa shinkansen from Tokyo travels 320kph) from either Tokyo station travelling north, wihich will take roughly 146 minutes or if you’re coming down from Hokkaido, as is perfectly possiblee for a dual island ski mission, you can board the shinkansen in Hakkodate and be at Morioka in 135 minutes.
Once in Morioka, there are buses to take you to Hachimantai which take around 60 – 85 minutes depending on whether your accomodation provides one. While taxis will get you there in 45 minutes. In our books though, arguably the best way to get the most out of the Iwate resorts is to rent your own vehicle and be prepared to pick and choose from surrounding resorts as you and the weather provides. The roads themselves are generally pretty quiet and you’ll feel like true powderhounds.
If humble ryokans or airbnb’s are your accomodation preference, Hachimantai might not be for you. Instead there is no on-mountain accomodation but rather an assortment of large all-encompassing hotels nearby.
We stayed at Daiwa Royal Hotel – Active Resorts Iwate Hachimantai and basically had the place to ourselves. The buffet breakfast, buffet dinner and all you could drink hour put us in good stead to ski hard and karaoke harder.
Hachimantai: Restaurants & Après
As you could probably deduce from the above, the restaurant and après scene in Hachimantai is rather lacking when it comes to variety. But that is not to say it can’t be found within the hotels themselves. At the Active Resorts Iwate Hachimantai one can make the most of the all you can drink hour and DIY cocktail bar as well as games rooms, table tennis and karaoke. We personally enjoyed a pretty scintillating game of Jenga with vending machine beers in the lobby.
Hachimantai: Non-Skiing Activities
There’s not much to do here other than hang out at the hotel or on the hill, so don’t expect much in the way of shopping. However, if you’re not skiing or playing Jenga, the Onsen is always calling and all surrounding hotels have one or another to enjoy.