Aside from its close proximity to Australia, Japan’s landscape, culture (and food!) make it a very popular destination for families. As a ski destination, Japan comes up trumps for scenic splendour, fabulous accommodation, amazing facilities, sensational slopes and all-round snow fun.
Out & About With Kids put this Q & A to Dale Goulding from Deep Powder Tours, providing all the whys, wheres and how-tos for families considering a ski holiday in Japan.
What can the first time skiing family expect to be different in Japan?
Japan is a wonderful ski destination for Australian families to visit, you have a unique culture that dates back hundreds of years, the food is delicious, it is a very safe destination and the close proximity to Australia makes for ease of travel, a seven-night stay is very achievable.
What would be the top three resorts that attract Australian families and what makes them so popular?
Definitely Niseko on the North Island caters very well for families with the largest selction of quality apartments of any ski resort in Japan, excellent facilities that include English ski schools and ski rental, all the restaurants have English menus, a great alpine village similar in size to Thredbo that is located immediately at the base of the lifts and easy access from the local airport. Also close to Niseko there is Rusutsu that also caters well for families and on the mainland Appi is a purpose-built ski resort that targets the family market. All these resorts have kids ski schools and deals that include free lift tickets for kids.
What about if a family has never skied before and wants to learn. Which resort caters best for that?
Niseko for all the reasons I have listed above, the ski runs at the base of the lifts are all suitable for first time beginners and the snow quality makes skiing easy, no icy patches! This season Japan had a record season with up to 16 metres of quality snow falling in many of the top resorts
At the other end of the scale, which resort would you recommend for an expert family?
The resorts that suit experts would be Niseko due to the abundance and quality of powder snow and the Nagano region on the mainland, that incorporates Shiga Kogen, Nozawa and The Hakuba Valley which was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics and home to Steven Lee an Australian Olympic skier.
Is the language barrier difficult? And what about food? Do most resorts offer western meals that would appeal to kids?
The language isn’t a problem throughout mainstream Japan these days, including all the major ski resorts and of course Tokyo and other major cities. The Japanese are very helpful people and will do all they can to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The food is superb throughout the country and it provides kids an opportunity to try something different, but the major resorts do cater for western taste buds.
When people you have booked come home from Japan, what is the thing that stands out for them?
It is always the snow quality and abundance of snow that amazes very single traveller once they have visited Japan. They are equally impressed about the culture of the people and how well they were looked after. Japan is truly a unique ski experience that every family should enjoy at some point.