How to choose a ski resort in Japan for families with kids. From the big and famous Niseko to the much smaller local resort you may never have heard of, it can be difficult to figure out where is the best place to take your family when you want to ski in Japan with kids. Happily for suitcases&strollers, Kate Neath of Tokyo Urban Baby has compiled an extremely comprehensive run down of the pros and cons of each so you can start planning your family ski holiday in Japan with kids.
1. Skiing in Niseko With Kids
Niseko is perfect for a family ski holiday in Japan with kids if you want extensive English services and a huge number of ski runs and activities to choose from.
Niseko ski resort is actually made up of 4 connecting resorts that can be skied on the one lift pass. It is one of the most popular and famous ski resorts in Japan because in 2008 it was voted as one of the world’s top 10 ski resorts. Suddenly Niseko’s winter tourism boomed, with hundreds of thousands of overseas ski and snowboarding enthusiasts making their way to Niseko each year ever since. It was an exciting time for Hokkaido locals.
The ski resort rapidly adapted to the inbound tourism with English-speaking services, including English ski lessons and English speaking staff at the hotels. This is great for international families who want to ski with kids as it is so easy to communicate in English.
The four resorts that make up Niskeo are Hanazono, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri (see below for more details). Skiers often stay at one resort but you still have the option to catch a shuttle bus to the other resorts in Niseko which allows you to take advantage of all the services and activities that each resort has to offer. You can view the full map of Niseko ski resort here.
There are a range of independent babysitting and daycare services in Niseko apart from those which the individual resorts offer. Click here to see the details.
Niseko is 2.5 hours by bus from New Chitose Airport.
Hanazono in Niseko With Kids
Kids group lessons are available at different levels in English for age groups 3 to 6 and 7 to 14 years old. For more details click here.
For families in Hanazono with kids, there is also a fun tube park.
Grand Hirafu in Niseko With Kids
Beginner kids group lessons are available in English for age groups 3 to 5 years old. For more details click here. For more experienced kids, group lessons available for age groups 4 to 5 and 6 to 12 years. For more details click here.
Grand Hirafu also has a daycare facility for families who want to ski without their kids for children aged 6 months to 6 years.
Niseko Village With Kids
Private ski lessons are available for kids aged 3 to 6 years old. Family private ski lessons available for families skiing with kids over 3 years old. Group ski lessons are also available for kids 6 to 12 years old and snowboarding lessons for those 7 to 12 years old. For more details click here.
Other winter activities that you can do in Niseko Village with kids include trekking tours, snow rafting and reindeer sledding.
Niseko Village also has a daycare facility for children aged 1to 6 years old.
Annupuri in Niseko With Kids
If you are skiing at Annupuri with kids group lessons are only available in Japanese but private ski lessons for kids are available in English for children aged 4 to 6 years and 7 years and older. For more details click here.
Family Friendly Accommodation in Niseko With Kids
There are many hotels in Niseko for families. The ski-in ski-out hotels at Niseko Village are great as they are family-friendly and provide free shuttles to all the other resorts in Niseko.
If you prefer apartment-style accommodation there are also many options available including Kasara Niseko Village and Hilton Niseko Village. (This hotel is particularly family friendly with a children’s menu in the restaurant, baby cribs available, high chairs and a playground.)
The Green Leaf Hotel includes a kids play area with complimentary sleds and snow tubes.
2. Skiing in Kiroro Snow World, Akaigawa With Kids
Kiroro is a great family resort to ski or snowboard with kids in Japan. It is also easily accessed from Sapporo and is close to the seaside town Otaru, so it is particularly a good resort if you would like take some day trips into town and enjoy the amazing seafood that Otaru is famous for.
Kiroro Snow World offers kids group ski lessons available in English for age groups 3 to 12 and snowboarding lessons for ages 6 to 12 years.
As well as skiing in Kiroro Snow World, there are plenty of other activities for kids including a snow park playground, snow bubble ball, snow mobile and snow rafting.
3. Skiing at Tomamu Hoshino Resort With Kids
Tomamu is an awesome all-inclusive resort where you can spend the whole week in the same resort. Tomamu is on the east side of Sapporo (the opposite direction to Niseko), so it is a great resort to visit if you wish to go to a different part of Hokkaido (perhaps visit the nearby Furano for a day trip).
Tomamu is very family friendly with extensive services and activities for children. Two unique highlights of Tomamu are the spectacular view from the mountain terrace and the huge indoor heated pool called Mina-Minda Beach which is especially designed for families and that is open all year round.
Some of the other family friendly activities for kids at Tomamu include snow mobiles, snow rafting, a sled park and night snow cruising.
Kids group ski lessons are available in English for age groups 3 to 6 and 6 to 12 years.
There are nursery and kids programs available in Tomamu during the winter season of December to March for kids aged 2 months to 6 years.
Tomamu is 1.5 hours by bus from New Chitose Airport.
Family Friendly Accommodation in Tomamu With Kids
There are two hotels at Tomamu Resort.
4. Aomori Spring Ski Resort With Kids
Aomori Spring Ski Resort (formerly called Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort) is located on the northern side of Mount Iwaki in Aomori Prefecture. It has an amazing view of the Sea of Japan from the gondola summit.
Aomori is ideal if you want to relax at a more local Japanese ski resort rather than a touristy one. If you are looking for a local Japanese resort where you can mingle with the locals, enjoy Japanese culture and cuisine and have a relaxing time, then this resort is perfect.
You can really get a feel for how local this resort is by the detailed description of their international ski instructors here. Not many ski resort websites have this kind of self introduction of the instructors! It really gives a cute family-feeling to the resort.
Kids group ski lessons are available in English for ages 3 to 5 years and 6 to 11 years.
Other activities for kids in Aomori Spring Ski Resort include Rockwood Snow Land which is designed for kids to have fun in the snow with an air trampoline, snowshooter and kids snow mobile.
There is only one accommodation option in Aomori Spring Ski Resort – Rockwood Hotel and Spa with its amazing outdoor spa.
Aomori Spring Ski Resort is about 70 minutes by car from Aomori Airport (it is also accessible from Tokyo by train and car which takes about 5 hours).
5. Appi Kogen Ski Resort With Kids, Iwate
About 133 kilometres southeast of the Aomori Ski Resort is the APPI ski resort which is a popular family-friendly ski resort in Iwate. APPI is perfect if you want to go to a big family-friendly resort that is just a few hours from Tokyo.Japan With Kids: Tokyo Insider Kate Neath of Tokyo Urban Baby
The resort has a huge family snow park (outdoor playground) and babysitting services, as well as indoor playgrounds for the kids, so even if it is a blizzard outside your family can enjoy playing and relaxing inside.
APPI resort is located right in the middle of 3 prefectures in Northern Tohoku, so there are a lot of options for sightseeing in the neighbouring areas. One of the biggest attractions is the Iwate Snow Festival which is held in the first week of February.
Private ski lessons for kids are available in English for children aged 4 years and over and group lessons are available in English for children aged 7 to 14 and 15+ years. Click here for more details.
Other activities for kids in APPI include the Family Park which is especially designed for young children with a snow escalator, snow tubing, sled run and snow playground.
Ice fishing followed by cooking and eating of the fish is also offered as a fun activity for families.
There is a childcare service available (ages 1 to 10 years) as well as a kids playspace in the restaurant and nursing room. You can read the details for that here.
Appi Kogen Ski Resort is 3 hours by shinkansen (high speed train) and bus from Tokyo. There are also shuttle buses available from the nearby airports to APPI for hotel guests only. This is great if you prefer to catch a domestic plane rather than a shinkansen.
Family Friendly Accommodation in APPI for Kids
There are 3 hotel options at Appi Kogen Ski Resort.
Hotel APPI Grand is located in the main ski resort building, so it has the best ski-in ski-out access to the slopes. It is family-friendly with Western style beds and has a large games corner for kids.
APPI Grand Villa has spacious Japanese and Western style rooms that are great for families with small children if you want more space.
APPI Grand Annex has direct access to the hot spring spa.
Family Friendly Ski Resorts in Japan For Kids Compared
By Kate Neath of Tokyo Urban Baby