Invigorate the senses with a perfect family trip to Japan’s snowland

By on February 6, 2018

Hop on the Shinkansen, let the train take the strain  and before you know it, you can be packing into a gondola or waving to each other from the chair lifts of an idyllic ski resort, and be safely back home in time for your Netflix favorite. A single day jaunt to the mountains will invigorate the senses and these places make the perfect family snow spots.


Gala Resort

Only an hour and twenty minutes away, there is no messy hopping on buses at the other end. You arrive at the resort. Leaving Tokyo station at 7am you can be on the slopes by 9am. JR built this  resort with its  very own Shinkansen station, Gala Yusawa. Combining ski rental, dressing rooms, onsen and lift station, all are under the same roof. Things couldn’t be easier. Jump on the train and jump off straight into the snow.


It’s a blast! For those who tire easily of the snow, the other major attraction is the giant outlet that lies adjacent to the ski slopes. You can still do the weekend shop and get some quality snow time in. The quaint high street, full of bakeries, was famed as a John Lennon hangout. There is a great kids snow area with snowmobile drags, mini toboggan runs and hot drink machines on hand and enough runs to keep the avid skier /boarder content.


Jewel of the bubble ski era, now we can enjoy all the wonderful facilities without too many crowds. Weather permitting it’s a three-hour car ride, or catch the bus 30 minutes from Echigo Yusawa station. The giant Prince hotel complex dominates the entire resort. It’s breathtaking and has something for everyone. The ski-in Mcdonald’s might have gone but the piped J-pop music on the slopes still remains. Make the most of the hotel’s facilities, without staying there. Convenience stores, onsens and a food court, it’s all here. There are the usual children’s  outside fun areas and  simple-to-sign- up ski schools. For spectacular views, take the Dragondala – the world’s longest gondola which takes you to the next resort of Kagura.


Only a 20-minute bus ride from Echigo Yuzawa station and linked to both Tashiro and Naeba. A small, compact resort with big snow. There’s powder in them there are hills! More suited to the older family, it has wide pistes and beautiful lake views. There is even Heli-skiing in the area and it’s pefect for excursions late into the season.

Pine Ridge Resorts Kandatsu Kogen

A world class snowboard park for the radical snowboarders with enough jumps, rails and boxes to keep everyone happy is Pine Ridge’s appeal. Less than 10 minutes away from the centre of Yuzawa town and set in a natural bowl area that provides great snow. They even have a special 90-minutes Snow Board program called “Learn to Ride (LTR)” for boarding newbies.


There are many all-in-one packages to the bigger resorts. It offers train, shuttle bus if necessary, equipment, liftpass and clothing rental, onsen and lunch. This season, competition is high among the resorts so there are plenty of bargains up for grabs. A typical weekend day package starts from around ¥10,000 from your local JTB office  (JTB View at Shinjuku station has English speakers). Remember to travel light; wear your thermals and take a bunch of stick on heat patches for the kids. The rental gear is usually up to date but cheap gear can be bought in Ochanomizu (see last month’s TF report card). Fun skis are a great bargain, easy to use, will fit every member of the family and can be thrown in a rucksack. Most importantly, take a change of socks for everyone! There is nothing worse than sitting on the train home with wet feet. Before you set off, check for up to date information on snow conditions.

Feeding the habit

It’s hard to not get carried away and let the snow beast within take over, as you try to cram a week’s adventure into a single day on the snow. Remember that it’s just a day trip! The slopes will be there next weekend and the ski season is long. So go get a taste of the snow, unwind in the mountains, throw a few snow balls, hit the pistes  and inhale the clean, fresh air. Soon you‘ll be hearing the sound of crunching snow underfoot, brushing gortex and maybe even catch some air. Ahhhh!


 Annupuri Village

Just 150m down from the Annupuri gondola in Niseko, Annupuri Village Chalets, fully furnished with spacious common areas, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, and luxurious amenities, provide perfect accommodation for families and friends.

Located in the heart of Niseko is Annupuri Village which draws people from around the world every winter with its monstrous 15 meters snowfalls. Annupuri, located in a quasi-national park land, allows easy access to the peak and some of the best deep powder runs.

Hot springs, cafés, and restaurants are all at the doorstep of Annupuri Village, where bilingual professionals organize your airport transfers, rentals, lessons, lift tickets, tours and activities to make your perfect holiday in the sugar-frosted fields of Niseko’s powder.

432-21 Niseko, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido


About Tokyo families

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *