There’s lots to consider when planning your next family snow holiday. How quick and easy will the travel be? Will we be affected by jet lag? Will we face language barriers? Will ski schools cater well for my kids? Will the ski terrain suit adults and children? Will we be affected by altitude sickness? Are there après ski activities for families? How cold is too cold?
Japan is an ideal family destination. It ticks all the boxes, extraordinary culture, authentic history, divine cuisine and some of the world’s best powder snow. A ski & snowboard trip to Japan is so much more than just that. It is a chance to immerse yourself in the calmness and romance of ancient times, temples, shrines, geishas and breathtaking scenery. At the very same time, you'll find advanced technology, a booming economy with stylish, confident and modern cities.
At just 9 hours to Tokyo from Sydney, travel is a breeze and best of all, it is no more than a 2 hour time difference so there is no jet lag. Getting around Japan doesn’t get any easier. Their transport is efficient and effortless. What kid doesn’t love the idea of riding in a bullet train!
The terrain is very well suited to adults and children. Imagine the Australian and NZ resorts with some actual snow (15+ metres of it) and that is what you can expect in Japan. The resorts are not overly high, so altitude sickness isn’t common and it doesn’t get that cold, just a bit colder than the Australian resorts. Temperatures at -15 are considered extreme, this is nothing compared to the -30 it can get down to in North America.
Here is a list of some of the best family ski resorts in Japan that we feel tick all the boxes.
Best point: Kids 12 years and under ski free all season
Furano is one of Japan’s largest and best ski resorts. It offers a fusion of authentic Japanese culture with modern influences and comforts. Renowned for its reliable weather patterns, Furano basks in over 9 metres of powder snow, more blue bird days than other resorts in Hokkaido, a wide variety of terrain and English-speaking ski schools, making it perfect for the whole family.
Furano is a relatively inexpensive and undiscovered international resort. It is uncrowded, charming, safe and a genuine ski town. With the choice of Kitanomine Village, at the base of the mountain and the town of Furano, a taxi ride away, there are plenty of dining and shopping options to suit all tastes.
Family Snowland is where it is at for families offering snow rafting, snowmobiling, snow banana boat, snow shoeing, air bounce and hot air ballooning. If that is not enough there is the Snow Night Fantasy, a village of snow and ice set in an enchanted forest.
Accommodation ranges from traditional Japanese pensions to hotels and apartments.
Best point: Ski school is exceptional with native English-speaking instructors
Hakuba is a great stress-free family snow destination. It easy to get to, a super-fast bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano then a scenic 70-minute bus ride. It offers 11 ski areas all interconnected by a free shuttle bus. It features traditional and economical style accommodation, hotels and increasing number of superior western style apartments. The resort is reasonably westernised with an excellent choice of fun après ski activities for families. A day trip to visit to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey park is a must. What stands out is the ski school options at Happo One, Iwatake, Tsugaike and Goryu/Hakuba 47, instructors are native English-speaking instructors.
Best point: Japan’s #1 ski resort and kids 12 years and under ski free in March & April
Niseko stands as Japan’s #1 resort and for good reason. Niseko offers everything that you would want in a Japan snow holiday, it is a good home away from home. With a huge amount of snow each year, 15+ metres, world-class accommodation, restaurants, bars and shopping and unlimited après ski options, there is something in Niseko for everyone. The resort is westernised so getting around is effortless, while there are some traditional Japanese inns, most accommodation is suited to western comforts. With such a wide variety of food, you’ll easily be able to find nuggets and chips for those fussy eaters. Niseko offers some of the best ski schools in Japan with English speaking instructors. Niseko is just a 3-hour bus ride or private transfer away from New Chitose Airport. Once in resort, free transfers run around the village, so not matter where you are staying, it easy to get around.
Best point: Kids 12 years and under ski free
Naeba is an ideal resort for families as everything that you need is right at your fingertips. This purpose-built resort is run by Prince Hotels and offers ski-in/ski-out resort accommodation with 1300 rooms and holds everything that you could imagine. Over 20 restaurants and cafes, kids snow play area, equipment rental, spa, games centre, kids recreational room and an indoor and outdoor onsen. The indoor beginners’ programmer for young children is a great way to learn. It is so easy to get there. A quick bullet train from Tokyo, then Prince hotels pick you up from the station for the 40-minute ride to the hotel.
Best point: The kids snow play area
Appi is an all-inclusive resort and relatively undiscovered. While it offers western style accommodation the resort is not overcrowded with westerners so it offers more of an authentic Japanese holiday. The accommodation offers an abundance of restaurants with both Japanese and western cuisine, a bar, cafes, a swimming pool, games room, onsens and rental equipment. The terrain ranges from beginner to advanced. The kids play area (which charges a small fee) will keep the kids entertained for hours. While it is easy to get to, it is a bit further away from Tokyo that other resorts, a 2-hour bullet train to Morioka, then a local train to a local station where you will be greeted by a free coach to the resort. With plenty of English speaking staff, Appi makes an easy snow holiday destination.
Best point: Mina-Minda Beach and the Ice Village
Tomamu is a perfect all-inclusive resort. Located on the east side of Sapporo (the opposite direction to Niseko), it is less than a 2 hour coach ride from New Chitose Airport. It is a very family friendly resort with plenty of activities for kids. Its huge indoor heated pool called Mina-Minda Beach will be a favourite amongst the kids as well as snowmobiling, snow rafting and dog sledding. Then there is the magical ice village, complete with its own ice skating rink, giant ice slide, ice art gallery, ice whiskey bar, ice church and even ice hotel. The Tower, Risonare Tomamu and Club Med all have a kids’ playroom.
Do you have more questions? Contact us today and we can help you plan your next family snow holiday to Japan.