Although Ichinoseki's climate is relatively mild compared to the rest of Iwate, it still gets cold and snowy. The west side of the city is influenced by the Sea of Japan which brings more snow, whereas the east is influenced by the Pacific Ocean allowing for clearer winters. If you would like to know more on how to conquer the winters here, or need some ideas on what to pack, please check out clothings tips for an Iwate winter.
Geibikei: An easily accessible experience even in the midst of winter. Glide down the gorge by a 'kotatsu' boat and witness the snow covered cliffs that transform Geibikei into what looks like a monochromatic ink painting.
Matsurube Snowland: Yes, there is a place to ski and snowboard in Ichinoseki! There are two slopes, one for beginners and one for advanced skiers. The prices are incredibly reasonable. ~2600 yen to rent boots, ski/snowboard, and 1500 yen for a rope-way pass, or 200yen per rope-way use. You'll need your own snow gear. For first timer skiers, there are classes that you can sign up to (Japanese). Sleds can be rented for free. Facilities include a restaurant and hot spring. Kunimidaira, Himekayu and Koeji in Oshu (although rumoured to close in the winters of 2021), are also very accessible if you live in Ichinoseki. Kunimidaira and Himekayu also have many courses and again, are reasonably priced. Locals of Iwate also enjoy Geto Kogen which is around an hour from Ichinoseki.
English website: http://www.geto8.com/english/.
Ice Skating in Senmaya: An ice-skating complex in Senmaya. The general admission fee is 600yen, plus another 300yen if you would like to borrow shoes. The arena is only open during Dec-Mar and is closed on the 31 Dec/1st Jan.
Daito Ohara Mizukake Festival: Watch as scantily clad men run through the town whilst getting splashed with icy-cold water. This festival is held early February (pretty much at the peak of winter) - just thinking about it makes me shiver. If you are courageous enough, why not join one year as my friend did! You can check out his experience here. (2021 cancelled due to COVID-19)
Senmaya Hinamatsuri: From mid-February to early March, the Town of Senmaya holds a gorgeous Girl's Day display. The venue is the whole town, but the main display is at the Senmaya Brewery Exchange Facility. Walk around rooms vividly decorated with handcrafted flowers and dolls. Enjoy special Girl's Day lunch menus at designated restaurants across town!
Onsen/sento: My favorite way to relax and warm up in the winter is by bathing in the hot springs. There are plenty of options available such as Kamikura, Keisenkaku, Kanpo no Yado, Zuisenkyo, Ganganoyu which specializes in hot stone spa, Momonoyu and Itsukushien which both have a variety of baths.
Karaoke: there are various places to do karaoke in the city. In Japan, there is something called 'hitori-karaoke (karaoke by oneself)' so even if you don't have someone to go with, or if you find it embarrassing to sing in front of your friends, you can bust out your favorite tunes in the privacy of your own karaoke room. In this instance, it would be better to find a place that charges per-person and not per-room.
The local cinema: Ichinoseki's local cinema - Ichinoseki Cineplaza (一関シネプラザ）