Japan boasts a great snow reputation, and a trip over the winter (December to March) is a perfect occasion to experience white landscapes and trying out snow sports.
Winter in Japan also offers unique cultural experiences, and is there a better time to soak in hot springs after a big day out?
Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, snow-shoeing and sledding and amongst the many offerings in most larger resorts.
The resorts we have selected offer family-friendly amenities, presented from beginner to experienced. Here is an overview to help you decide which one is best for your needs!
Located in Hokkaido, with a bus shuttle service from Sapporo and New Chitose airport area, Tomamu is easy to access and offers a complete all-inclusive experience. You will need to fly in from Tokyo or take a connecting flight, as Hokkaido is North on the main island of Japan.
Ideal for families, with a day-care facility, sledding area, indoor beach and wave pool, as well as an ice village, this resort offers slopes for all levels.
Many activities and events take place throughout the Winter, like frozen trees viewing, above-the-clouds-terrace and more.
Tohoku is the powder snow paradise! Bandaisan offers access to two large skiing areas: Alts snow park and Nekoma. Located within 3h of Tokyo by bullet train + shuttle bus, Tohoku also allows skiing later in the season than most areas, with slopes still open in April. Perfect to combine with a cherry blossom trip!
This all-inclusive style resort welcomes families with rooms up to 5 guests, which is a rarity in Japan!
Soak in the natural hot springs at the end of your day, and enjoy skiing with a more local crowd.
Naeba is a famous resort in the Japanese Alps / Niigata area. With dedicated children areas, children lifts and separated beginners areas, this is a perfect destination to learn and get confident on your skis. Slopes are also wider than in other resorts, making it easier to navigate.
A snow park offering snow rafting, snow trains and snowmobiles is also available for non-skiers.
Accommodation in Naeba is mostly ski-in / ski-out, and of a higher standard.
Naeba is easily accessible from Tokyo via Echigo Yuzawa station and a shuttle bus.
Hakuba is one of the most well-known ski resorts among foreign visitors. It is nonetheless well worth mentioning as it is suitable for beginners and families! Ski schools and daycare offer English-speaking options from 18 months up, and a dedicated beginner’s area will help get you on the way to steeper slopes.
Being located in the Alps region, Hakuba is accessible from Tokyo airports/city and Osaka/Kyoto areas. This is the perfect option if you are also looking at touring around Japan, and exploring the country. A number of day tours also depart from Hakuba, including the famous snow monkey of Yudanaka Monkey park.
Founded in the 1930s, Myoko offers a more authentic Japanese experience than other highly Westernised resorts. In recent years, Myoko’s growing popularity with international travellers has made it a great destination, where English is available while maintaining its local vibe.
With an extensive range of slopes, and the possibility to go off-piste in some areas, Myoko offers the advanced skiers plenty of powder and fun, while catering to younger ones with child-care offerings.
The traditional history of Myoko also makes it great local food and hot spring spot!
Located in Tohoku, and accessible via shinkansen bullet train + bus within 3.5 hours of Tokyo, Appi Kogen is a great family-friendly option for advanced skiers. The area is famous for its heavy snowfalls and offers a great powder experience. In recent years, some off-piste has been open, allowing for more snow fun. The resort is very proud of its long runs and groomed slopes as well, meaning that you will have a variety of gliding on offer. Appi Kogen is a traditional resort and is not attached to any township. The nightlife is limited but the infrastructure and services are of very high quality, with English-speaking staff while there are comparatively less foreign visitors around.
Kiroro is a medium-sized resort in Hokkaido, offering a very upmarket experience. The lift and hotel infrastructures are top-notch and non-ski activities are plethora if your budget allows. Very family-friendly, Kiroro has a ski school with English available, as well as non-ski activities.
Allowing tree skiing, and having a fantastic amount of snowfall even quite early in the season, Kiroro is your upscale family destination in Hokkaido.
Niseko is probably the most famous resort amongst foreigners looking to enjoy that amazing Japanese snow. With very regular snowfalls, the powder is fresh and renewed throughout the season. Niseko is overall more costly than other Japanese resorts, from accommodation to lift tickets, but the infrastructure largely delivers. For those looking for a Japanese-style ski town, Niseko may not be the best fit. Niseko is very westernised, which comes with lots of English-speaking services, including day-care and babysitting for the youngest. Central Hirafu nightlife is also very lively, with Westerners enjoying after-ski bars and restaurants.
For the most advanced skiers, off-piste and back-country is largely authorised.
A large part of the Honshu main island and Hokkaido is home to many ski resorts. When taking up ski for the first time, or travelling with little ones, and choosing the right destination can confusing. Each one has qualities to make your next ski holiday a true highlight, get in touch with us!
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