Do your course and then head up again dude, early Feb is the best time IMO. Iwate is not that far man. I will be coming from Kyoto and some from Australia
I do agree that early feb is the best time for Hokkaido and is probably the best time for a meet up.
As far as where we stay goes I really dont care, somewhere with lots of beds and cheapish probably suits, we should hire a car or cars depending on how many people end up coming and hit different spots every day. The cost spread out over a few people will probably work out cheaper than staying at a resort somewhere and being immobile.