Winter Wonderland: Fractured Fairy Tales

My name is Michaela Chatman. We are organizing a Winter Wonderland Camp for English speaking children between the ages of 7-12.  The theme is Winter Wonderland: Fractured Fairy Tales. Here is a brief outline:

Winter Wonderland: Fractured Fairy Tales

  • What if Sleeping Beauty was really the Sleeping Beast? Children will go through the writing process and create their own creative tales. Will they all end with, “And they lived happily ever after?”
  • Reader’s Theater: Read wacky fairy tales and practice fluency, using an expressive voice and gestures to convey meaning.
  • Chorus: Winter isn’t complete without the silliest Christmas carols this side of the North Pole- You won’t be singing Silent Night in this class!
  • Trained Studio Artist will teach about color, shapes and perspective using the famed Fukuro (Owl) Fairy Tales and Myths as a backdrop
  • Learn the fluidity of movement through “locking” from a trained hip hop and funk dance instructor

Classes are from 9 AM-3 PM from Dec. 19-23rd. On December 24th friends and family are welcomed to watch our performance as a celebration of art and winter!

Kagurazaka Community Center
Access: 45 seconds from Ushigome-Kagurazaka Exit A1 on the Oedo Line or 10 minute walk from Kagurazaka Station on the Tozai Line
Fee: 35,000 yen
8,000 yen day
Lunch and snacks are included.
Children are asked to bring their own water bottles and pencils.

For more information:

Peace and light,
Michaela Chatman

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UTREK’s 3-DAY SNOWCAMPS  in Sugadaira and Hakuba cater to elementary, middle and high school going kids, as well as parents. They offer lessons by an international team of professional skier-instructors, including former Winter Olympics medallists. Each camp’s costs start from 61,800 yen [Sugadaira 61,800 yen for elem. students | 65,800 yen for others]; [Camp Hakuba: 61,800 yen for elem. students | 63,800 yen others].  (BYO or rental ski set costs are separate) Phone: 03-3370-5335 | Fax: 03-3370-5365 Contact for a full brochure – specify whether English or Japanese copy.

Sugadaira (Wikimedia Commons)

About the locations: Sugadaira, located in the heart of central Nagano Prefecture, is a popular ski resort with a wide range of courses, regular powder snow conditions and spectacular views of the surrounding regions. Sugadaira is called “Japan Davos” because it looks similar to Davos ski resort in Switzerland. Hakuba is a small village surrounded by the stunning mountains of the Northern Alps. Hakuba became well known to the world as the main venue for skiing events at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Swiss team stayed at the Villa Hakuba which we will stay during our spring camp. There is also an overseas ski camp held in the Chamonix (France) ski slopes, that you can sign up for.
From the UTREK organizers’ brochure:
“Welcome to SNOWBIRD SKI CAMP! SNOWBIRD SKIP CAMP is a place where anyone who likes to ski can come and have fun. Of course, it is OK if it is your first time skiing. If you come to SNOWBIRD you will become good at skiing very quickly. If you come to SNOWBIRD, you will make many new friends. If everyone becomes a snow bird you can fly down the snowy mountains of the 21st century!
Every year, elementary to college-aged young people play the central role in SNOWBIRD, and continue to learn skiing skills and enjoying the mountain snow.
By now roughly 5,000 young people have come and strengthened their bodies and hearts through skiing.
One important characteristic of SNOWBIRD, apart from improving skiing skills, is understanding a lifestyle within nature, and improving young  people’s environmental sensitivity. Developing future leaders is also a principal idea. Encountering god leaders is essential to realize this ideal, and to learn high skiing techniques effectively and safely, while having a good time. In addition to the top-level Japanese instructors, sensational skiers and instructors from other countries sometimes take part in SNOWBIRD. By interacting with these instructors, young people develop global interests and it is a great opportunity for them to open their eyes to the world. I hope that young people can take what they have learned at SNOWBIRD, foster it in their hearts, and gain a life-time-sport.” –Tetsu Miyazaki, Director, SNOWBIRD SKI CAMP
SNOWBIRD features:
  • Top-level instructors teach campers with passion, and the camp itself is a non-profit purpose.
  • Amidst the grandeur of snowy mountain landscapes, you can train your mind and spirit while skiing, improve your sensitiviy to nature, and encourage the development of future world leaders.
  • Beginning skiers use the lift and cable car from an early time, and practice sliding down long courses. This method gives them big results
  • With the aim of improving skills, SNOWBIRD Ribbon Prizes are provided. You can also take SAJ (Ski Association of Japan) Skill Test. (Only Hakuba camp)
  • Fluent English speaking staff and instructors are present through out the camp.

For more information, please contact UTREK at

Websites: Utrek Facebook page | UTREK snowcamp English page and Japanese page | UTREK International Exchange Center (English) Utrek is also known for their summer camps and homestays in Japan


I sent my eldest to the unique KODOMO ALPS Ski Camp in Japan a couple of years ago, and my younger one has been signed up to attend this year’s as well.  While some parents will balk at the idea of this camp so I will explain why we love it.

The camp is practically run by high school students and university students themselves! (who are themselves experienced skiers but nevertheless amateurs and proper insurance is taken out). The concept is the camp is run entirely by previous camp enthusiasts and youth volunteer participants – the more experienced of the skiers teach the less experienced.  Hence, there is a concept of leadership opportunities involved. The ratio of teacher to student is high at the camp and amazingly, kids of all ages and as young as the kindergarten set are accepted.

My husband who was bred on the ski slopes of Hokkaido believes that to ski well, you basically really just need LOTS and LOTS of practice at skiing, not a lot of fancy ski instructions. So this ski camp is for kids who just love to ski, and want to pack lots of lots of ski practice, and in the process make friends with other ski enthusiasts. A democratic skicamp concept, no strict rules and intervention by adults.  One of Japan’s most beloved ski camp traditions. Five full days of sheer maximum skiing fun. And costs cheaper than virtually any other 3-day ski camps you’ll find anywhere hands down.

Obviously, the camp concept will come as a bit of a shocker and unique for most of international parents who are usually concerned about adequate supervision. Kodomo Alps has been around for a very long time, is somewhat of an institution in Japan (and has research studies have even been done on its benefits). “Returnee”-kids can take turns being volunteer camp leaders, so they build leadership skills as well. The camp organizer is a very popular and operator with a good local reputation and we actually failed to get a place for our son the year before he went. The food provided (according to my son) was much better than the usual fare at gashuku and camps. There are also follow-ups for the beginner groups, so kids get to meet up with familiar friends.
This year’s camps’ costs are from 48,300 yen onwards (upwards if you don’t have your own ski gear … you can save by buying your own, and places like BOOKOFF/HARDOFF can help shave a lot off)

Details of this winter’s 3 ski camps from their website:

Yabuhara ski area.

Offers sking totally cool for the first timers.
Practice skiing together with a friend, from a height with an above sea level of 1700 m. Before you know it, you’ll be skiing rapidly!

Shiga plateau ski area

The Shiga plateau was the setting for the Nagano Olympic Games.
The long course between woods, the steep inclines and the game course will offer great skiing for skilled skiiers

Hakuba 5 dragon | HAKUBA47

This course in the Northern Alps offers huge skiing satisfaction as it is equal to a large-scale ski slope of the 3,000 m class. Skiing offered from beginners’ to advanced skiiers.

A long cruise while overlooking the range in all directions, views of Mt. Myoko, and the Shiga plateau close are the highlights.
Expect great skiing in areas blessed with good natural snow!

Other camps by ALPS-KODOMOKAI offering winter or snow activities are also available, see this page.

NOTE:  Kodomo Alps is however, an all-local camp for Japanese-speaking kids only, unlike the UTREK snowbird camps which are bilingual.

Posted by Aileen Kawagoe