The 7 Most Family-friendly Ski Resorts in Japan

You can seamlessly blend ski time with family time when you visit one of these seven Japanese resorts.

Between juggling extra ski gear, the occasional temper tantrum, and seemingly constant requests for bathroom breaks, let’s face it: planning a ski trip with kids is no picnic. But thankfully, many Japanese ski resorts have made special accommodations to ease the trials and tribulations of traveling with little ones.

From professional childcare to special play areas, these ski resorts have all kinds of amenities on deck to keep every member of the family entertained. This means you won’t have to sacrifice any of your hard-earned ski time to keep the peace, so you can get onto the slopes with no stress (or as little as possible, anyway — you’re still traveling with kids, after all). But you may find you want to join in on some of these off-slope activities when you can, since many can be very tempting when temps drop into the negatives and snow starts to pour from the sky.

To help families decide where to go on their next ski trips, we’ve put together a list of the most family-friendly ski resorts in Japan. These ski areas supply plenty of excitement on and off the slopes, so the whole family can have fun all day long no matter what everyone wants to do. Read on to find out where to go and what to do on your next family trip to Japan.

Appi Kogen

Located on the north side of Japan’s Honshu Island, Appi Kogen is just right for kids of all ages (including kids at heart). Though it lacks a traditional village, this ski resort instead has a small, compact base area that’s easy to reach and navigate. Here, you can park the kids at the daycare center or the nature school, the latter of which will teach young visitors about local plant and animal life through arts and crafts. Out on the mountain, there’s a snow school with multilingual instructors and a kid-oriented snow park that has sledding, snow tubing, and a small ski and snowboard area ideal for little shredders to safely practice their turns.

2. Furano

If you didn’t know any better, you might think that much of this Hokkaido resort was designed with kids in mind. Special features include free (!!!) lift tickets for skiers and boarders under 13 years of age, as well as a spacious beginner area serviced by a Magic Carpet lift. Once the kids have had their fill of skiing, you can cart them over to Furano Family Snowland for snow rafting and sledding. Later, once everyone has finished playing for the day, get the whole family together for a trip to nearby Ningle Terrace, a series of woodsy cottages where you can view the work of local artisans and purchase unique souvenirs. Try to also squeeze in an evening stop by Snow Night Fantasy, a snow and ice village located in front of the Shin Furano Prince Hotel.

3. Nozawa Onsen

One of many popular ski resorts in Nagano prefecture, Nozawa Onsen offers snow school lessons for all ages, as well as a professionally staffed on-mountain childcare center. But if the whole family wants to stay together all day, look no further than the Nozawa Onsen Kids Park, which includes bounce houses, tubing runs, and a small ski area with a Magic Carpet. You’ll also want to save some time to visit an onsen, or hot spring — Nozawa is particularly famous across Japan for these baths, and guests of all ages can indulge in this unique Japanese cultural experience.

4. Naeba

Right in the middle of Japan’s snow country, Naeba has been built from the ground up to suit a modern skiing crowd, and the resort’s family-focused offerings are no exception. Indoor and outdoor ski runs provide great opportunities for little ones to learn how to carve, aided by highly rated ski school lessons (be aware, though, that there’s a limited number of English-speaking instructors here). But if your kids are more interested in playing in the snow than riding over it, bring them to Snow Land, where they can while the day away by snow tubing and rafting.


5. Niseko

As one of the largest and most internationally famous ski resorts in Japan, Niseko accommodates visitors of all kinds, including families in need of some activities to keep the kids busy. You’ll find those activities just about everywhere you look, from the Kids Snow Park with sledding and snow bikes at the Grand Hirafu resort, to the reindeer sleigh rides at Niseko Village and snow tubing at Hanazono Tube Park. Indoors, you can drop the kids off at the Niseko Kids Club daycare or take them to the Galaxy of Kidz for rock climbing and ball pit play areas. After a long day on the mountain, the whole family can dine out at one of the many kid-friendly restaurants in town.

6. Hakuba Valley

Perched in the North Japanese Alps, Hakuba Valley has children’s skiing and boarding lessons, multiple childcare facilities, and several dedicated play areas spread out over the valley’s 10 different resorts. When the temps drop a little too far for comfort, kids can warm up at the indoor Woodland playground at Escal Plaza. On warmer days, they can explore the outdoors at Sakka Kids Park, Usagidaira Kids Park, Cortina Wonder Village, and more. As an added bonus, Hakuba Valley is less than two hours of drive time from Jigokudani Monkey Park, where kids will love watching the famous “snow monkeys” bathe in the natural hot springs.

7. Myoko Kogen

Myoko Kogen in Nagano prefecture encourages you to bring the little ones along for the trip by offering free lift tickets for skiers age 5 and younger. Plus, on-site childcare will allow you to get in some time to yourself on Nagano’s famous powder, though you’ll also find many runs that will be perfect for younger skiers and boarders. Off the slopes, the village at Myoko Kogen has family-friendly onsen and a number of restaurants and other attractions, all within a short walk of the centrally located ski lifts and hotels.