Traveling to the mountains with children requires an extra degree of planning, but Japan has many facilities and programs specifically for the little ones. Most major resorts include children’s parks that are replete with playgrounds, sledding areas, igloos, snowman building and more.
Some kids' areas, like at Mt. Jeans Nasu, are equipped with snow escalators, which bring tykes up the hill without a chairlift. Others, like Grandeco Snow Resort, have bicycle-shaped sleds called snow striders, while Minakami Kogen Fujiwara Ski Resort has an inflatable slide. Many resorts also have daycare facilities and rest spaces to accommodate younger children and toddlers, as well as group ski lessons for older children ready to get on the slopes.
Of course, you don’t have to stay in the kids' park to enjoy child-friendly amusements. Sledding, snowshoeing, snow rafting, tubing and banana boats are great fun for all ages. Rentals are generally available, so check beforehand to ensure each resort has the type of amusement you're looking for.
Several resorts stand out as being particularly geared toward families. For example, Tomamu Club Med in Hokkaido is replete with daycare, ski lessons, and programs for ages two and up. Ski lessons are offered to children four and older, with additional group programs available for teenagers. Closer to Tokyo, Minakami Kogen Resort 200 in Gunma Prefecture is a perfect paradise for children ages one through five. The resort’s sizable kid’s park includes sledding hills, a diverse range of sled types and tubes, igloos, a kid’s slalom course, a snow tube carousel, snow striders, and more. Other popular family-friendly destinations include Furano Ski Resort and Nozawa Onsen, each with childcare facilities, lessons, and snow parks.