As the title suggests, I consider Hachimantai and Shimokura the best ski areas in Iwate, but more specifically Shimokura for my taste. My first time on a snowboard was there and I return each year and I am never disappointed. On the day that I took these pictures we had the best conditions that I have ever experienced there. A little new snow the day before and clear skies for the day, it was the first time that I could see how breathtaking the surrounding area is from the top.
Iwate is not well known to outsiders, but it's a great place to visit if you like the outdoors, with at least a dozen ski resorts. The better known are Appi Kogen, also in Hachimantai, and Geto in Kitakami. Geto gets most snow but the weather is quite harsh. A very popular après-ski activity here is to go to a hot spring, and fortunately many of the ski resorts have hot springs nearby. Hachimantai has a hot spring on site, as well as Geto and so does Appi Kogen. Soaking in a hot spring is an excellent way to relax after a hard day on the slopes.
Hachimantai Panorama and Shimokura are part of the same resort and your pass gets you access to both ski hills; another reason why I think it's so great. There is a free shuttle bus, every 30 minutes, between the two places. While Hachimantai is better for beginners, Shimokura lies a little higher and has some steeper terrain; the latter is much less crowded. Regardless of your level you'll be able to find a slope that suits your skills. And for the price of one pass you get access to two resorts, that's hard to beat!
Apart from the above mentioned areas, Hachimantai has two other ski areas that are also good, but not as good value in my opinion. However, I'll leave it up to you to try them out as well.
Prices are quite reasonable, in fact lower than most places around Morioka:
Day pass ¥4000, 5 hour pass ¥3300
Children ¥2800, 5 hour pass ¥1800
Senior ¥3300, 5 hour pass ¥2800
You can also rent skis, snowboards and outfits.
Gettting there, take the Matsuo, Hachimantai exit from the highway, then take route 45 westbound until you reach route 23; turn left, then take a right at route 212 and follow the signs. You'll be able to see the mountain from there.