Niseko and Hakuba are, for most slope-enthusiasts heading to Asia, the main ski destinations in the land of the rising sun! And although both are cloaked by endless layers of powdery snow and lavish après ski facilities, things can get a bit too crowded –or a bit too expensive. Luckily, Japan boasts heaps of ski resorts for snow-lovers of all sizes and levels!
Gear up and plan the best winter adventure for the gang at any of these ski resorts you didn’t know about! Here are 10 amazing ski resorts beyond Hakuba and Niseko that cater to kids and families. See you on the slopes!
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From snow rafting, to cross country skiing, paraskiing and snowshoeing, at Tomamu Ski Resort, all-things-snow are taken to a whole new level! No doubt this is the place to be if you are planning a winter holiday in style. Delve into the resort’s modern and upscale facilities for skiers of all levels. Let the little ones hone their skills at the kids’ park and join some fun and indulging après ski activities-who said indoor wave pool!? As the resort is located around two hours from Sapporo, it can easily be accessed using the Japan Rail Pass. As there’s so much to see, do and explore, we recommend staying here a few nights to make the most of it! For accommodation, choose between Tomamu Hoshino Resort or Club Med’s trendy hotels! Fancy up snow-lovers! Season dates to be released soon!
Tomamu Ski Resort, www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/en/
A 90-minute shinkansen ride will get you to one of Japan’s snowiest –and biggest- areas. Located in the Niigata Prefecture, Yuzawa’s snowfalls are known for sometimes exceeding 1m overnight resulting in a long season running from mid-November to late May. All of the nearly 20 resorts are accessible by public transport even if some are in more remote areas. Our fave feature is that some resorts offer combined lift tickets allowing you to go from one to the other just skiing and snowboarding. Yuzawa Kogen, Iwappara and Yuzawa Nakazato are the top choices for families in the area. With easy access, well-groomed beginner and intermediate runs, kids’ snow play areas and even snowmobile rides, for sure both kiddies and grownups will have a blast!
Yuzawa Kogen, www.yuzawakogen.com/en
Yuzawa Nakazato, www.yuzawa-nakazato.com/summer/
Appi Kogen’s ski area extends far and wide, showcasing over 40 km of runs and 11 lifts. Although skilled skiers will make the most of their time here, the little ones are not left behind! The ski field boasts a family park made up of courses and snow tubes designed for pint-sized skiers! Appi Kogen caters mostly to locals, so it’d give the crew the chance to get the real Japanese winter-vibes. Located about 560 km north of Tokyo, Appi Kogen’s is one of Tohoku’s area top ski resorts. As there are no major cities close by, the Hotel Appi Grand caters to most visitors, though the complex is huge, be sure to book well in advance! Early season starts December 1, 2019!
Appi Japan, http://www.appi-japan.com/winter/
Appi Japan Facebook, www.facebook.com/AppiResort/
Hokkaido’s most famous ski resort is the perfect choice for families looking to embark on a multi-day skiing trip! With a slew of runs suited for skiers just starting out to absolute pros –Furano’s fast, steep and long runs have been used for World Cup Races, can you imagine!?- there’s definitely something for everyone. But, that’s not all! Furano’s Family Snowland also offers different snow activities such as snow rafting, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. The most adventurous can experience parasailing! Accommodation can be found at any of the two Prince Hotels in the area or one of the many lovely family-run guesthouses. Furano Zone season starts on November 23, 2019 -up to May 6, 2020. Kitanomine Zone starts during Mid-December 2019, ending March 22, 2020
Furano Hokkaido, www.princehotels.com
There’s no shortage of reasons to ‘fall in snow’ with Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort! Offering runs for skiers of all levels –from gentle slopes to a halfpipe for the pros-, Nozawa is amongst Japan’s oldest ski resorts! Nestled just near the traditional onsen town, families visiting can indulge in some well-deserved after ski relaxing time, enjoying the best of Japanese culture. Kiddies eager to improve their skills can join a ski lesson with an English-speaking instructor! Furthermore, maps and general information on site are available in English, so if that tends to be a concern for you, maybe this should be your go-to spot! Located just 48 km from Nagano, Nozawa can be accessed by car. As the ski field is located right next to the town center, you can get there on foot. Easy as!
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, www.nozawaski.com/en/
Located mid-way between Niseko and Sapporo in Hokkaido with easy access by bus or car, Kiroro Ski Resort showcases 22 courses suited for snow-lovers of all levels. Backcountry and off-piste enthusiasts can slide their way through forested areas, accessing the deepest levels of snow –and adventure!- in the resort. What makes Kiroro a favorite are the vast amounts of powder snow which have nothing to envy from its mega-famous neighbor –Niseko! Also, the little ones can burn some calories at the family-friendly snow park, or hang out at the Game Park Granship indoor playground. If after a day at the slopes you still have energy to spare, have some fun and hit some high chords at the karaoke! For accommodation, enjoy a ski-in ski-out stay in style at any of the luxury hotels located within the resort grounds! Season starts Dec 14 - 2019, and lasts till April 16, 2020
Kiroro Ski Resort, www.kiroro.co.jp
Sapporo Teine’s ease of access from Sapporo makes it an ideal day trip! Just about a ‘cheap-as-chips’ 45 minutes ride by train or bus and with the option of a half-day pass, budget-minded families can save a bit of moolah without compromising fun! This ski field boasts courses for absolute beginners to thrill-seekers as in here you’ll find runs used for the ’72 Sapporo Winter Olympics! Another perk are the ‘never skied before’ lessons in English for peeps 7 years up –go slide little ones! Bear in mind though that bookings are mandatory, so make sure you plan ahead! Season starts November 23rd!
Sapporo Teine, sapporo-teine.com/snow/lang/en/
Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sapporo.teine/
If what you enjoy are endless course options bursting the widest variety of terrains and runs, then the Shiga Kogen Ski Area is the perfect fit for you and the snow-gang! Though the area is quite close to Nagano making it an easy day trip, it’s so extensive that you could certainly spend at least two days slithering down the slopes! Shiga Kogen consists of 19 ski resorts that have partnered to provide ease of access. One lift ticket allows you to ride all 51 lifts and make use of the shuttle buses connecting all areas of the resorts! Say whaaat? There are many options for accommodation around Hasuike –just a short stroll from the resorts- and Yamanouchi, which is about a 30 minutes’ drive! Pre-season opening on Nov 17th!
Shiga Kogen, www.shigakogen-ski.com/en/
With over 40 km of groomed slopes plus forested backcountry courses and a slew of family-friendly activities, no wonder why Rusutsu is one of Hokkaido’s top ski resorts. What’s best is that the area is easily accessed by bus from Sapporo -90 minutes’ drive- or New Chitose Airport! Guests can enjoy numerous hot spring baths, pool facilities and a wide shopping and gastronomic scene. Make it a weekend getaway by booking any of the resort’s accommodation packages and the Early Bird Ski and Stay deals! If traveling with friends and family you can book a cozy cottage and get into winter mode right off the bat! One of our fave features of Rusutsu if they count with a brand new Day Care facility, so avid skiers can go hard without worrying about the pint-sized members of the fam! Early Bird season pass available now!
Rusutsu Ski Resort, www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb
Fujiten and Snow Town Yeti are two resorts surrounding Mt Fuji. Fujiten Snow Resort is nestled in Mt Fuji’s northern base, whereas Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti can be found on the southern base. These two ski fields are great for families with small kids who want to get a taster of the skiing scene in Japan! Though both are quite small featuring 4 and 2 lifts each, they have a nice variety of courses and kids’ snow play areas –Snow Town Yeti counts with a daycare facility too! What makes these small resorts stand out are the staggering views of Japan’s most-beloved mountain. What’s more, Snow Town Yeti is the first ski field to open every year with the season kicking off in October -thanks to man-made snow when needed. So if you are in Japan just before the ‘real’ season starts, this is a great choice for you and the kiddies! Head there on a day trip from Tokyo or stay overnight in one of many Kawaguchico’s hotels and guest houses! Early season starting October 19th!
Fujiten Snow Resort, www.fujiten.net/pc/en/#aboutSec
Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti, www.yeti-resort.com/en/