If you are looking for a unique and fun family ski trip, look no further than Japan.
With world renowned powder, hundreds of resorts to choose from, great food and the opportunity to take a cultural vacation too, skiing in Japan with kids is guaranteed to make your next family ski holiday the best yet.
Here we take a look at some of the Japan ski resorts that offer the best family skiing in Japan.
Niseko Japan Ski Resort
Niseko Japan has some of the best skiing in Japan. It is considered by many to be the best ski resort in Japan. As one of the most up to date ski resorts, with gondolas galore, and a variety of ski lifts, Niseko ski resort is a great place for family ski vacations.
The Hirafu resort offers numerous attractions for children, the biggest being the snow park with half pipes and jumps. There is even a smaller version located on the beginner slope next to the Hirafu Gondola.
One of the biggest attractions in Niseko is the tree runs. Even on one of the beginner slopes there is the Kitsune Forest which offers gradual runs through the trees. The best part is at the start and end of the course there is a bell that can be rung by skiers.
If you are interested in things other then skiing, there is snowmobiling, snowshoeing and snowrafts that are pulled around by snowmobile.
Niseko is one of the most popular ski destinations in Japan, which means it has a variety of locations to stay and eat. If you are traveling with a picky eater – no worries – there are plenty of locations to choose from common western food (Niseko Pizza) to sushi places. Or if you want to take it easy there is a food truck center where you can make everyone happy for a cheap price.
Best Niseko Accommodation
For easy access look for Hirafu accommodation. This will keep you in close vicinity of the Hirafu resort. There are numerous locations in the main town center including:
- The Hilton with ski in and ski out access. Check their prices here.
- Miru Niseko (formerly Nest at the Trees) is a little further out of town. This hotel offers a quick five minute shuttle into the main Hirafu center.
- The Vale Niseko. Click here to see the latest prices.
Contributed by Amy Dodd from Oceans to Alpines
Furano Ski Resort
Furano Ski Resort is on Hokkaido, about an hour from Sapporo. It is one of the best resorts in Japan due to both the length of the season and quality of the snow.
Furano has some of the best family skiing Japan has to offer and is ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are two zones, the Kitanomine zone with beginner runs, and the Furano zone well suited for more skilled skiers.
One of the other reasons Furano is a great destination for a ski trip with kids is the lift passes are free for kids aged 12 and under. Note that if your family needs a ski school make sure to book in advance as places fill up quickly.
Night skiing is a great experience for the little ones and during the day, the New Furano Prince Hotel runs a kids’ programme with treasure hunts, ski challenges, snow grooming and snow mobile rides, and more. Hot springs or onsen can be found throughout the area.
Food in Furano is amazing – it is the home of the Ramen noodle! Try Furano Delice Cafe for freshly baked creamy cakes and hot chocolate or Furano Bakery for exceptionally beautiful baked goods. Great for family dining is Yama no Doxon, a microbrewery with a good selection of dishes. For showmanship of Teppan Yaki head to Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya.
Getting to Furano is easy. Buses regularly leave from Sapporo airport or you can use the very efficient JP Rail.
We recommend you look at the JR Pass if you plan to travel throughout Japan during your stay. Click here for current prices and options.
Best Furano Accommodation
In addition to the top-notch New Furano Prince Hotel, there are many good hotels such as Hotel Naturwald Furano or the Furano Prince Hotel in Kitanomine – both offer heated pools to soak those weary muscles.
If you prefer self-catering:
- Chalet Fuyuri in Kitanomine is a great choice for families. Click here for the latest deals.
- Fuyunoki in Furano. Click to check prices.
Note there are also hostel and BnB accommodation around Furano too.
Contributed by Happy Go KL
Yuzawa Ski Resort Japan
Yuzawa is a prime ski area in Japan, and is fabulous for families.
Located in the Niigata Prefecture, an area sometimes referred to as the Japanese Alps, it is located just 90 minutes from Tokyo by bullet train.
The Yuzawa ski area is known for its long ski season. Often, the snow begins in November, and runs through March. This has spurred the growth of 20 different resorts in the area.
GALA is one of the most popular ski resorts, and it specializes in families. Not only is GALA the only Yuzawa resort that includes both skiing and snowboarding, it has a number of other family friendly activities, including a snow play area, snow tubing, snow shoe tours, and winter fireworks.
There are ski lessons available for all ages, offered in several different languages. The little ones even have a Spongebob themed lesson area to keep them entertained.
Outside of the resorts, Yuzawa Ski Resort has a number of other family activities, from adventure sports, nature parks, a fishing park, and even a firefly park. And of course there are onsens to relax tired muscles after a long day on the slopes, or other adventures.
For travelers who need some mental activity, the city is home to several museums including Yuzawa Natsukashii Takarakan (Yuzawa’s Nostalgic Treasure Chamber) and the Snow Country Museum, which honors Nobel Prize winning Author Yasunari Kawabata, and his novel, Snow Country, which takes place in the city.
Best Yuzawa Accommodation
There are many lodging options in Yuzawa, but the classic place to stay is Takahan Ryokan. Rooms sleeping 6 are available, and can include both breakfast and dinner. Click to check the latest prices.
For something a bit closer to the train station, Shosenkaku Kagetsu is another great option. Check the room options and prices here.
Contributed by Roxanna Keyes from Gypsy With a Day Job
Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort is an ideal destination for families on account of its vast and varied terrain, large beginner ski area, and lessons offered to children and adults alike.
Located near Nagano, the overall resort is fairly small, so it is easy for advanced skiers to go off in search of deep japow while novices stick to the well-maintained groomers. The two groups can then meet back up mid-mountain for a delicious ramen lunch.
Nestled in a quaint, authentic mountain town of the same name, Nozawa Onsen provides many opportunities for outdoor activities, as well as cultural ones.
In fact Yuzawa Onsen is as famous for onsens as it for its ski resort. It is a well known hot spring resort and there are 14 public hot springs (onsens) in the town to visit.
For a day off the snow, fun nearby attractions include the Kamakura Snow Hut Restaurants and Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
Best Nozawa Onsen Accommodation
There is a good range of accommodation in Nozawa Onsen.
- Address Nozawa has great family sized serviced apartments. Click here to check the latest prices.
- For a traditional Ryokan experience take a look at Kawamotoya. Check availability and latest prices here.
Contributed by Thea from Zen Travellers
Myoko Ski Resort
Myoko Kogen Ski Area is located west of Nagano on the main island of Japan. Less westernized than other Japan ski resorts, it offers a traditional family ski vacation.
There are a number of small resorts that make up the Myoko ski resort. We like Akakura as a base due to the number of restaurants and easy access to the ski fields.
Akakura Onsen has a good range of beginner and intermediate ski runs and it is great for families as the ski school is one of the few to offer English speaking instructors.
Myoko Kogen is also one of the best ski resorts in Japan for powder – they receive some of the largest snow falls in Japan and there are many back country ski options for the hard core skiers.
Best Myoko Accommodation
- Morino Lodge is an option for families with suites and tatami rooms available. Click to check availability and prices.
Skiing Near Tokyo
If you would like to add a ski day or two onto your Japan itinerary there are a number of ski fields near Tokyo that are easy to access on the rail system on your Japan Rail Pass:
- Gala Yuzawa is only 80 minutes by train from Tokyo and is one of the best Japan ski resorts near Tokyo. It even has its own shinkansen train station for easy access!
- Kagura Ski Resort is a 2 hour combined train and bus ride from Tokyo. Renowned for powder and one of the few resorts that permits off-piste skiing, this is possibly the best ski resort in Japan near Tokyo.
- Karuizawa Ski Resort is the closest ski resort to Tokyo at just over an hour on the shinkansen train. The snow quality is inferior to many other ski resorts in Japan, but if you are looking for an easy day trip for the kids to see and play at the snow, then this is a unique thing to add to your Japan itinerary.
If you are planning a Japan ski tip, it is essential to take out reliable travel insurance as soon as you book your trip.
Family ski vacations can be expensive with flights, accommodation, ski lessons and ski rentals. In the event your plans change or someone is injured, good medical and trip coverage is a must.
The best travel insurance for skiing in Japan should cover medical costs, cancellation fees and emergency rescue.
Check the policy carefully – most insurers will require you to select winter sports as an additional option and some will not cover you for off-piste accidents.
We use World Nomads travel insurance when we ski in Japan. Click here for an obligation free quote today.
Best Time To Ski in Japan
The Japan ski season runs from December to April. The quality and amount of snow varies depending on the location and elevation of the ski resorts.
Japan skiing in December
The Hokkaido ski season is typically earlier to start than on the main island, Honshu. Snow in Japan in December can be a little hit and miss, so if you plan to go skiing in Japan in December we recommend you book a Hokkaido ski package for resorts such as Niseko United or Kiroro.
Skiing in January
There are many ski resort options for the best skiing in Japan in January. At this time powder days are common, temperatures stay cold and snow is in plentiful supply. It is also a busy time, so you will need to book a long way in advance, especially for popular resort areas such as Hakuba, Niseko and Nozawa Onsen.
Where to ski in Japan in February
We have experienced some of the best skiing in Japan in February. Both Hokkaido and Honshu ski resorts have plentiful snow at this time, the holiday crowds have diminished a little, and off piste skiing is at its best. Take a look at Nozawa Onsen, Hakuba, Myoko Kogen or Yuzawa at this time.
Skiing Japan in March
As winter draws to a close and Japan moves into Autumn (Fall), many of the snow resorts at lower elevations begin to close as warmer temperatures result in more variable snow conditions.
For the most reliable and best skiing in Japan in March you will need to look to the Hokkaido ski fields such as Rusutsu ski resort or the Niseko ski area.
April Skiing in Japan
Snow in April can be marginal, but depending on the quality of the snow season, many northern ski resorts remain open. The great thing about skiing in Japan in April is there are less crowds, sunny days and warmer temperatures.
In a good year it is possible to go skiing in Japan in May! Kiroro and ski resorts near Furano are usually good options at this time of year.