Oze Iwakura Skiing Terrain


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 – 18
    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 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 a lift on the side face has been non-operational since the 2011 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 have 30% of the trails, but you wonder who comes up with these stats because there are really only two functional beginner runs. These are amazingly wide runs and ideal for learning, except on weekends when 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

At Oze Iwakura Ski Resort, 40% of the piste terrain is dedicated to intermediates, although it feels like more than this due to the length of the red runs. 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 6 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.

Two of the courses have been revived. They were formerly accessible off the #4 lift which is no longer in use, and a connector trail now enables access to these black runs off the #3 lift. The laps are painfully slow because you first have to ride the relic that is #2 lift.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Oze Iwakura has some really lovely tree skiing and for most of it 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 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.

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, whilst skiers left of trail #5 has some ridiculously good trees, with a better aspect but at lower elevation.

It’s highly likely that off-piste skiing is officially prohibited, but 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. The ski patrol may have signs up in English to the skiers’ left of the old #4 lift regarding avalanche danger, which is a potential risk, but the bigger problem for most here is that egress can be a challenge to avoid the double gullies. One path out is to do the traverse of shame under the lift, so perhaps leave lines in here until after lunch (and have skins with you).


Some of the former lovely sidecountry has disappeared as a result of the re-opening of trails #17 and #18.

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.