Skiing with kids in Japan is an experience they won't forget.
Taking your kids on a ski holiday in Japan is a wonderful opportunity for them in so many different ways. As a place to learn or develop their skiing, there is virtually nowhere better; soft snow and ample beginner and intermediate terrain at most resorts in Japan make it a family paradise.
It is also a chance to introduce the kids to Japanese culture, whether that’s through the food, language, onsen or arts.
In order to get the most out of the holiday, we have five tips that will prepare them for the slopes and keep everyone happy.
Invest in quality gloves, goggles and socks
Skiing holidays are always going to be testing if your child is not used to the cold weather. In Japan – where the ski resorts are known for cold temperatures and heavy snowfall – it can be even more difficult.
While there’s no need to break the bank on really expensive ski gear, it is important to invest well in the essentials: gloves, goggles and socks. Cold fingers, toes and foggy goggles are a recipe for disaster in the mountains; if you can help your child avoid these, then the chances that they’re going to enjoy their skiing experience increases tenfold.
Our tip: avoid doubling or tripling up on socks, and instead make sure your child is wearing a good pair in a well-fitted pair of boots (rentals are fine). Doubling up on socks can cause pressure points in the ski boot, leading to lost circulation and a really unpleasant experience.
Layers … lots of them!
Avoid the temptation to kit your kids out in really thick ski jackets and pants, and instead use layering to help them prepare for all sorts of conditions. In Japan, a mild bluebird morning can transform into heavy snowstorm in a matter of minutes.
As a minimum, dress them in a good base layer (avoid cotton), a fleece mid layer and a waterproof jacket on top, with thermal pants and waterproof ski pants on the bottom. Add a neck warmer to cover their ears, chin and nose for the colder days – it should fit snugly under their helmet.
If your child is really prone to feeling the cold, add additional layers (top and bottom). Single-use hand warmers are also readily available in Japan, and are a really good idea for the coldest days.
Find an instructor they like
Skiing with your kids is a great way to spend time together and share the challenge of something new. However, their skiing will develop faster with an instructor who specialises in children’s programs, so try and schedule some hours of structured lesson time each day.
The bond that your child has with their instructor is critical, so don’t hesitate to request a change if your child isn’t responding well to the lesson. Ski schools are also a great opportunity for your kids to make some friends on the slopes, which can make the experience even more memorable.
Schedule rest days
Skiing in extreme conditions can be tough on anyone, but it can be especially taxing on the little ones. We encourage scheduling a rest day every 3–4 days or, failing that, an afternoon off the snow every few days.
For the really little ones (3–6 years), try and break their skiing into 90 minute chunks so that they’re not overwhelmed by the experience. Most ski schools catering to kids this age will have rest/play hours scheduled into their program.
Find other activities
You’ll find that the larger and more international resorts have lots of activities and excursions to try off the slopes, while some of the smaller, local resorts and more focused on the skiing. Read our post on the best family resorts in Asia for some ideas on where to go.
Japan is a fascinating country to be holidaying in, and there are cultural activities off the slopes regardless of which resort you end of visiting. Virtually every ski resort in Asia will have onsen – either at your hotel or in town – which are great for soothing sore muscles at the end of the day. A holiday in Japan is also a great way to introduce the kids to a new cuisine, and perhaps even learn a little Japanese.