With some of the best powder snow on Earth, world-class ski resorts and great food, Japan is the perfect destination for a family skiing holiday. If you are thinking about taking your brood skiing in Japan this winter, here are some insights from Jebsen Travel on the top snowy hotspots for this year’s ski season – so you can book nice and early!
Perennially blessed with pristine powder, Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is heaven for skiers and boarders. The slopes are located on the western side of the island, with winds blowing directly in from Siberia, making the snowfall dry and deep.
With magnificent Mount Yotei as a backdrop (“the Mount Fuji of Hokkaido”), Niseko is the ultimate playground for powder chasers. And one of Asia’s most popular skiing holiday destinations. Apart from Hokkaido’s celebrated snowfall and exciting outdoor pursuits, you can venture out from Niseko to see Japan’s famous hot spring bathing snow monkeys at Hakodate. Or be awed by the annual ice sculpture festivals at Sapporo and Otaru.
Various ski resorts in Hokkaido are available to book via Jebsen Holidays, including the following.
• AYA Niseko is located at the base of one of Niseko Grand Hirafu’s most popular ski runs, offering a great ski-in ski-out experience in the winter. AYA’s in-house amenities include a ski valet, both a natural onsen and a private family onsen. Plus a spa, gym, yoga studio, restaurant, art gallery, kids’ club, ski school access, business centre, conference room and more.
• Ki Resorts is a ski-in ski-out luxury destination with doorstep access to Niseko’s fabled powder slopes. Less than 100m from the Grand Hirafu gondola, Ki defines mountain luxury, with everything on your doorstep: onsen, bar, restaurant, café, massage, shop and private ski valet. Enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Yotei, an ideal setting for a revitalising winter adventure.
Niseko doesn’t have all the great snow to itself! In fact, the quality of powder in Central Hokkaido is brilliant, too. There’s a wide range of different ski resorts, all within relatively short distance of one another, and offering everything from big modern resorts to quaint onsen villages.
• For a “one-stop shop” ski experience in Hokkaido, visit Club Med Tomamu and Club Med Sahoro. On offer at these two resorts are all-inclusive packages including lift tickets, ski lessons and meals – ideal for travellers interested in a hassle-free holiday. The main difference between the two lies in their design and atmosphere. For a more intimate Japanese-style experience, opt for the 177-room Club Med Sahoro. If you want a more contemporary and lively experience with traditional Japanese “nabe” dining options, choose the new 341-room Club Med Tomamu.
• The Furano Prince Hotel is a relaxing resort hotel boasting 112 guest rooms, superb amenities and furnishings, bath facilities and a comfortable atmosphere. It’s situated in the heart of Hokkaido, a 60-minute drive from Asahiyama Airport, and just a few minutes from the city centre of Furano.
This new ski resort is set amid a scenic landscape of mountains stretching outward to the ocean from Mount Myoko, and surrounded by a broad expanse of countryside.
• The Lotte Arai Resort boasts first-class leisure activities including 14 ski courses with eight areas of ungroomed snow. Plus spas, pools, restaurants, cafes, function rooms and a 1501-metre zip-line tour – the longest in Asia.
It’s not only Hokkaido that’s blessed with great snow in Japan. Naeba Ski Resort on the slopes of Mount Takenoko in Honshu’s Niigata Prefecture not only boasts great runs and a relatively long skiing season, but it’s also very conveniently located to Tokyo (approximately 2.5 hours by car or train). The resort is connected with neighbouring Kagura ski resort by the “Dragondola”, Japan’s longest gondola, and the entire area (known as “Mount Naeba”) has a total of four ski areas.
• The Naeba Prince Hotel at the bottom of the ski area boasts 1,224 rooms and offers various fun experiences along with gourmet dining, shopping and hot springs.
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This article first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.