Family Skiing in Nagano

By on December 16, 2013
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Nozawa Onsen Village  

Located up north Nagano prefecture,  Nozawa is both a ski and onsen resort. It gets packed during the winter season with major skiing and snowboarding tournaments held there.  It accommodates more beginners with a majority of the ski trails for them.  Family-friendly facilities include the Kids Park and the Yumin child-minding service for a worry-free day when parents are out skiing.

Shiga Kogen

Billed as one of the largest ski resorts in Japan and the world, Shiga Kogen is also one of the highest.  Most 1998 Olympic events were held here.  It has 21 ski resorts interconnected through slopes and uses a comprehensive lift system.  Off-piste skiing is possible here unlike most places at Hakuba where it is completely not allowed. Its close distance to
Nagano station makes it convenient to go to various cultural sights.  Unlike Hakuba, English is not widely spoken in the area. Ski lessons and day care services are available only in Japanese.


The Hakuba region has seven ski areas: Goryu, Hakuba, Happone, Highland Snowpark, Iwatake, Minekata, and Sanosaka.   Compared to Shiga Kogen, Hakuba is a more popular ski destination for families.  Facilities are more foreigner-friendly and
English is spoken in many hotels and ski areas.  A single day jaunt is possible but it’s best to stay overnight or more to explore the area and do many things. The gondolas are now in full operation and maybe enjoyed all winter.  Don’t forget to check the weather before you go!

Guided tours and more
Tucked away deep in Japan’s Northern Alps on the snow-covered mountains of Hakuba is Evergreen Outdoor Center offering tours and support to visiting families.
From the wild to the mild and anything in between, Evergreen’s range of activities are suitable for seasoned winter recreationalists and families who want to explore Hakuba snow for the first time. Experience the thrill of skiing or snowboarding in deep powder on a backcountry tour with professional guides that know the Hakuba mountains better than anyone, while the children are being well taken care of in the Evergreen International Ski School’s Kids programs.

Families with children can enroll the little ones in full-day ski lessons  that include a supervised lunch for 11,000 yen for the first day and reduced rates for multi day programs. They break the children into groups by age and ability.   The Yeti program is for 3~6 year olds and the Superhero’s program is for ages 7 until 14. For toddlers, Evergreen offers half-day, learn-to-ski programs and daycare services with friendly, kid-loving staff.

The Evergreen International Ski School offers a bi-monthly race and technical training program called ‘Hakuba Alpine Gates’ for teenagers from the age of 13 ~ 18. This program runs on the 2nd and 4th weekend of every month starting in January through to the end of April. You can bring your youngsters up to Hakuba yourself or Evergreen’s professional staff can meet them at the Hakuba station and take care of them with meals, accommodation, professional training and all other needs. Look for greater details on their website.

If you’re keen on developing a different set of winter mountain skills, the center operates two levels of avalanche safety courses developed by the Canadian Avalanche Association and run personally by Evergreen Outdoor Center Director, Dave Enright.  Ski and snowboard Instructors’ Courses for anyone over 16 is also offered. So whether you have aspirations of becoming a snowboard instructor or just fine-tuning your riding skills, this is your chance to take it to the next level.

If the alpine slopes aren’t for you,  then take a refreshing glide on nordic skis along scenic cross-country trails or hike through majestic snow covered forests and across wide-open alpine fields on a snowshoe tour. There’s no prior experience needed for either of these activities. Evergreen also offers evening snowshoe walks where you and the children can enjoy a chocolate fondue with a hot spiced wine or warm caramel milk after dinner.

With a wide range of fun activities on offer, a very international crew of professionals, slope side vegetarian ‘Roots Cafe’ and a panoramic mountain range on its doorstep, Evergreen Outdoor Center in Hakuba is the perfect first step to creating your best winter yet!

4377 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Nagano.
Tel: 0261-72-5150

Traveling with small kids?  It is advisable to leave Tokyo before nap time to make sure they give you peace.

Bullet train  A one way Tokyo-Nagano trip takes around an hour and 40 minutes and costs 7,500 yen. Train fare for 5 years old and under is free.
Bus   Nagano- bound highway buses depart every hour from the Highway bus terminal in Shinjuku  Another alternative is to take the bus from Ikebukuro   Round trip prices start from 3,800 yen
Rentacar   If you’d like to travel comfortably and freely, traveling by car or renting one is another option.
Helicopter   Looking for something more luxurious like traveling via a helicopter?  A few companies offer a helicopter charter service.

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