You've probably never heard of a little resort called Shizukuishi - and it's a good thing you haven't! One of the last remaining ski resorts in Japan that has stayed relatively free from Western influence, Shizukuishi offers fantastic advanced skiing, super dry snow, and spectacular views of Mt. Iwate (the highest mountain in the Iwate prefecture). Located about an hour from Morioka on the southern island of Honshu, Shizukuishi has something for everyone and a perfect for those skiers seeking their next untouched Japan ski destination.
- No lift lines queues, ever - mid week can be particularly quiet
- A great resort to experience cat skiing at a reasonable price
- The resort is not Westernised, yet it caters well to international guests with English signs and bi-lingual staff
- Superior snow quality (it might not snow as much, but it's incredibly light and dry)
- Take a day trip to nearby Amihari Onsen ski resort (the Prince Hotel offers a shuttle service)
- The only accommodation on-mountain is the Prince Hotel
- More advanced skiers will find enough terrain to entertain themselves for a few days
- English speaking ski lessons are available
At Scout, we're always taking the long way around and heading off the well-travelled path to discover new resorts to ski in Japan. For those seeking a new resort to explore, and one that is yet to undergo the huge Western development that is prolific in many of the resorts on the south island, Shizukuishi is one to add to your must-ski list. The resort itself is owned by the Prince Hotel group (think Shiga Kogen, Naeba, Furano, etc.), yet it doesn't have the glitz and glamour that often comes with the large developments - it still retains some of that quirky Japanese resort feel, and with a lot less international skiers on the slopes.
Like many of these smaller Japanese resorts, skiers can expect uncrowded slopes and no lines - both for the chairlift and for lunch. The resort offers only a few options for a mid-ski snack, with tasty Ramen Anekko at the bottom of the ropeway, and Restaurant Alyeska (western/Japanese fare) at the top. Scout loves the quirky Japanese charm that resorts like Shizukuishi offer and the friendly locals that are always happy to see new visitors to their mountain.
Shizukuishi is most well known for its spectacular view of Mt. Iwate, the highest mountain in the Iwate prefecture, and the stunning outlook from the slopes is worth the trek alone. The resort itself has something for everyone, but in particular is great for beginner to intermediate skiers. The runs are long and wide and with a distinct lack of skiers, you practically have the whole slope to make your turns. Lift lines are virtually non-existent, particularly mid-week.
Advanced and expert skiers are well catered to at Shizukuishi (over 80% of the terrain is dedicated to them), however, those seeking true double-black steeps will be a little disappointed. Of course, there is plenty of hike-to terrain and side-country, which opens up more opportunities for advanced skiers to enjoy the light and dry powder this part of Honshu is known for. Shizukuishi makes for an ideal home-base to visit other resorts in the area - five of Japan's similarly lesser-known resorts are within an hour from the resort including Appi Kogen, Iwate Kogen, Amihari Onsen, Shimokura and Hachimantai - and they all boast incredible off-piste and advanced powder skiing.
There is one must-do activity when in Shizukuishi and that's cat skiing. It is incredible value - for those wanting try cat-skiing for the first time (or simply take some easy powder runs), it is unbeatable. The resort has dedicated a former piste run solely to cat-skiing, and intermediate and advanced skiers are sure to love the opportunity to explore more of the resort, especially the morning after a decent overnight snowfall. Bookings are required one day in advance and highly recommended.
Shizukuishi is a perfect option for more independent families, especially those who don't require all the bells and whistles that come with the larger resorts in Japan (like Niseko or Hakuba). The resort itself does offer the standard facilities on-mountain including ski rentals, lift pass office and options for lunch, however, when it comes to ski and snowboard lessons for the kids (or adults), private is the only option for English-speaking tuition. The good news is that kids 13 and under ski free at Shizukuishi! In terms of accommodation, the Prince Hotel is comfortable and located right at the base area, so ski access each morning is super easy. Rooms can feel a little dated, so we'd suggest the Superior rooms for families which offer a little more space and have been renovated.
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Shizukuishi ski resort is owned by the well-known Prince Hotel group, and the only hotel-style lodging available at the base of the slopes. It offfers fantastic ski-in ski-out access each morning, and boasts comfortable rooms. It can feel a little dated (typical 80's feel that many hotels in these smaller resorts have) but is a good option for families and those who simply need a comfortable bed to rest their heads after a long day skiing powder. The Shizukuishi Prince Hotel has the majority of the dining covered, with buffet breakfast and dinner, as well as Kobushi (a french restaurant for dinner and après), and Nanakamade (izakaya) restaurant.Get your
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Families can take advantage of other activities nearby including snowmobiling tours, and there is a small tubing park and kids’ snow park to keep the kids entertained. Takakura Onsen is a must-visit when in Shizukuishi - this open-air onsen is the best way to wind down and relax after a day on the slopes.
Shizukuishi is located in the Iwate prefecture, about an hour drive from Morioka Station. Catching the Shinkansen train from Tokyo is a popular choice for skiers. A JR Shuttle bus is available to ferry guests to the resort area, and the Prince Hotel has their own transfer service to/from the resort area.
Shizukuishi makes a fantastic home base to explore other resorts in the region, including Appi Kogen, Iwate Kogen, Amihari Onsen, Shimokura and Hachimantai. Having your own car provides the best flexibility to ski each resort and explore further afield. The Prince Hotel has a shuttle service to Amihari Onsen for guests.
Shizukuishi is open from early December until early May. The best time for powder snow is January and February, while skiers in March enjoy some better weather.
|Summit Elevation||3,700ft / 1,128m||Tram||1||Beginner||20%|
|Vertical Drop||2,303ft / 702m||Express Quads||1||Intermediates||40%|
|Longest Run||2.7miles / 4.5km||Quad Chair||3||Advanced||40%|
|Annual Snowfall||259in / 6.6m||Triple Chairs||0||Expert||00%|
|Operating Hours||9.00am –4.00pm||Double Chairs||0|
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