Of late, ski resorts around Naeba area have become our family favorite because the kids are skiing every chance they get. You can visit our earlier writeups Where to go for ice and snow activities in Japan but below is our latest rundown of ski areas with family-friendly places that easiest to get to from around the capital city.
To get your bearings, see this map for location of major ski resorts: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2262_resort.html
Yuzawa/ Echigoyuzawa /Gala Yuzawa
an hour. It is also quick to get there by car, taking just over two hours, which makes this slope one of the most popular (and crowded) ski resorts around. Overcrowded though on public holidays. A mountain that offers great views on a clear day. There are onsens and plenty of family friendly facilities. The nearest resort is in Echigoyuzawa – see my writeup (note for the budget-conscious):
Gala Yuzawa which is one of the most popular ones for families.
Naeba/ Kagura – Naeba is located in Yuzawa along with Gala Yuzawa and Iwappara and thought to be best known and most famous ski resort in Japan for locals due to its proximity to Tokyo and reputation for good powder. Naeba ski field is enhanced by its linkage to the Kagura resort by way of the “Dragondola”. Between the two resorts there is a huge variety of runs and terrain to experience. For just a short skip from Tokyo this is one of the best places to go. Naeba can get very crowded depending on where you go…mostly for serious skiers. Prince Snow Resorts are always a safe choice for families:
Karuizawa – Karuizawa is an historic upmarket resort town which has a fairly large outlet mall, onsens, and its own ski field. No challenging ski slopes but good for a family with little ones. There are plenty of things for others to do if for non-skiers. Karuizawa is popular as a day trip from Tokyo as the ski field is very close to the station. Many like the respectable Prince Hotel establishment’s accommodation.
Nozawa Onsen – 3 hrs from Tokyo by Nagano Shinkansan and bus This is an incredibly picturesque mountain and village, located at the base of the mountain and blanketed in snow for the duration of the winter season. The township itself is slightly hilly, being at the very foot of the mountain, and absolutely oozes character. There are 13 free Onsens scattered around the township where you can take a dip if you take your own towel and soaps. In addition to this there is one larger Onsen complex near the ski field and a couple more within a quick drive. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6017.html
Kusatsu – Kusatsu is a resort town nestled in the mountains of Gunma. The township itself is extremely pretty and boasts a geothermal spring which steams up from the ground in the very center of the town. Kusatsu is a popular family resort and has a slightly up market feel to it. There are plenty of onsens, restaurants and souvenir shops to purchase the local delicacies. The ski field (Kusatsu Kokusai) itself is nice for beginners and intermediate levels. It can get a bit crowded during holiday periods. Japan Guide recommends Kusatsu Kokusai Ski Resort
Minakami – The Minakami area is in the north of Gunma prefecture in the Tanigawa mountain ranges. This area is famous for its Onsens and there are a wealth of really picturesque spots to bathe after a day’s skiing in the snow. The area boasts 10 ski and snowboard resorts including; Minakami Houdaigi, Minakami Kougen, Minakami Kougen Fujiwara, Minakami Okutone, Norn Minakami, Ohana, Tanigawa Onsen White Valley and Tanigawadake Tenjindaira. Only 70 minutes by train from Tokyo this spot is oftern overlooked by the crowds in favor of Yuzawa and Naeba. However, this area is less crowded and far superior when you add in the beautiful Onsens.
Alts Snow Park or ski resort in Fukushima – See my Alts Bandai Snow Park writeup on the re-opening of the family friendly snow park, the largest snow resort closest to Tokyo. See Alts Bandai website: http://www.alts.co.jp/english/. Other options in Fukushima are: Fukushima Inawashiro Snow Paradise and just in front of a big slop of ALTS BANDAI Samurai Riders – Samurai Riders`s – one of few hostels available for ski in and ski out in Japan.
Shiga Kogen – 2,000m high mountains, Shiga Kogen boasts with its numerous and large scale ski areas – fine powder snow, abundant snow fall, the latest facilities including a speedy lift operation system – Shiga Kogen is one of the worlds top ranked ski resorts (see also Prince Snow Resort )
Try using Snowjapan.com’s reviews for ski resorts.
Reviews of Kagura resort by the Tokyo Snow Club here.
Samurai Riders – Samurai Riders`s is located in front of a big slop of ALTS BANDAI which is the largest snow resort closest to Tokyo. Samurai Rider`s is also one of few hostels available for ski in and ski out in Japan.
Nasu Kogen/Highlands – Even though Nasu Kogen is located at the boundary with Fukushima-ken, it is still readily accessible from Tokyo – about 1 hour by shinkansen http://iguide.travel/Nasu/Activities (See Prince Snow Resort Manza also Secret Japan’s account of Manza)