Choosing the right Japanese resort for your family for your first snow holiday is vital. Alister Buckingham has some suggestions on which resorts to pick.
Choosing the right Japanese resort for your family for your first snow holiday is vital. Here’s our list of the best beginner ski resorts in Japan for families and how to choose which one is right for you.
Top-class resorts and deep powder
If you’re looking for a resort that’s going to cover all your bases, Niseko United is the place for you. The world-famous resort renowned for its deep powder snow is now also known for having some of the best ski hotels in all of Japan, including the acclaimed hotel The Kamui Niseko, ranked in the world’s top three new ski hotels at the 2016 World Ski Awards. The village of Hirafu boasts a huge number of restaurants, ranging from family-friendly ramen to high-end izakayas. There is also tonnes to do off the mountain.
Beginner terrain near beautiful forests
The nearby resort of Rusutsu is almost equally well equipped with two large hotels right at the base of the resort. The terrain is great for developing skills with a large number of beginner and intermediate runs right next to huge powder forests. There are group lessons available for every level in English and, for fun, Rusutsu has a large arcade with skill-tester machines, a 4D cinema and an indoor merry-go-round.
If you’re after an all-in-one resort experience, then Sahoro or Tomamu are your go-to destinations. These resorts are very family-friendly with activities for kids of all ages, including tubing, ice-sculpting classes, ice slides and more. The terrain at both resorts offers large areas for beginners as well as some advanced runs. Lessons can be offered in English, but it’s best to book ahead.
The central location
Furano is located in central Hokkaido and is a very happy medium between traditional and new-age Japan. The town of Furano is right at the base of the resort, and there are a number of accommodation options including hotels and apartments. The terrain here is great with lots of advanced to expert runs as well as large beginners’ areas. The area is much less crowded but there are still many of the same services and activities available.
A touch traditional
The traditional town of Myoko Kogen is a powder paradise rich in Japanese heritage and culture. The town is relatively new to the international snow scene, and doesn’t have everything in English, but what it does have is tradition and history. The resort has great lifts and a wide range of beginner and advanced terrain, as well as the classic Japanese powder snow. This resort has something for everyone, especially those interested in Japanese culture.
Just give me the biggest!
One of the largest ski areas in Japan is the Hakuba Valley, hosting seven ski resorts and many different styles of accommodation, terrain and facilities. Hakuba is located about four hours from Tokyo’s airports, with coaches being the best choice for transport. All of the resorts in the area have great terrain for beginners, as well as long and steep runs for expert skiers.
The village is quite spread out, but there are free shuttle buses that run between the main village areas and the surrounding resorts. New to the Hakuba area is the Hakuba Gateway Hotel, which will offer great ground services and, with a SkiJapan.com office, will help improve services in the area. The nearby town of Matsumoto hosts one of the greatest traditional castles in all of Japan, which is a must-see, as are the snow monkeys that hang out in the onsen baths.
Need more help?
If you’re still unsure about which Japanese resort is the right fit for your family, contact SkiJapan.com. The team has even more Japanese resorts to recommend and can help you make the best choice. Whichever resort in Japan you go to, don’t forget to enjoy the culture, food and powder. With the ancient customs and amazing snow, there’s just so much to love about Japanese resorts.
This article originally appeared in Ski & Snowboard with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.