Advice needed Family ski areas near Aizu, Sendai, Aomori?

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Melskius, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Melskius

    Melskius Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    81
    Hi all,
    Changing up our plans again. Dropping Hokkaido and now looking for ski areas suitable for a family (kids 5 and 9). After green and blue groomers mainly (not after trees or off piste). Only looking at a day or two as a taster (so thinking maybe rent gear than take ours). No need for lessons.
    Locations Aizuwakamatsu, Sendai, Aomori or Akita areas, or a combo. Planning on visiting all these areas, just after where best to ski a few days. We are using public transport, traveling end feb, early march. Thanks so much.
     
  2. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    Appi Kogen is the biggest resort up that way with plenty of facilities. Nearby are the Hachimantai areas Panorama & Shimukura - small, but Panorama is good for beginners.
    Tazawako in Akita.
    Down Aizu way Inawashiro would be good also.
    Not so much near Sendai, maybe try Onikoube.
    All of these accessible by public transport - I did a thread on this a while back.
     
    Ramenman and Vermillion like this.
  3. bluestick

    bluestick One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2005
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    567
    Depending on a few factors near Aomori is moya bit limited but fun and close to town. Aizu you could go to grandeco or one of the three or four around Bandai eg listel ski Fantasia (cheap accom on snow ) small resort though. Sendai mmmm not sure you could go to zao or the two nearer (I have not been to these) jangle jungle and tendo kogen. the islands off the east coast (matsushima) are worth a visit. Pretty sure all of the above would have shuttle bus /taxi access from town
     
    Ramenman likes this.
  4. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Messages:
    68,734
    Likes Received:
    22,324
    For Aizuwakamatsu and your skiing ability I think Alts Bandai would be the best option. Nekoma is the best resort, but it's a little more advanced and there's a few steeper sections you cant avoid if you take the wrong lift, so I wouldnt recommend it. The last 2km of the access road can also be a little sketchy too. Inawashiro is a pretty crappy resort, so I would skip it. Further up the road Grandeco would be suitable too, but it's an extra 30mins and not worth it for you guys if you're driving past Alts. Numajiri isnt worth it for you guys either. Down the other way Daikura is the closest but it's a small resort and the one I would recommend, Takatsue, is too far IMO unless you're super keen.

    Rough times from Tsurugajo (temple in Aizuwakamatsu):
    Alts - 40mins
    Inawashiro - 50mins
    Nekoma - 80-90mins
    Grandeco - 90mins
    Daikura - 60mins
    Takatsue - 90mins

    All of these depend on road and weather conditions, although Alts and Inawashiro are expressway almost the whole way so should be standard.

    Sorry, cant help on the other places.
     
    Ramenman likes this.
  5. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2014
    Messages:
    1,946
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    As for Aizu region,

    If you travel with 5 & 9 kids and not after trees or off piste, Alts Bandai and Grandeco are good. Both are easily accessible by use of public transport. Both have shuttle bus services between the nearest Shinkansen station = Koriyama station. Tokyo to Koriyma by Shinkansen - Koriyama to Alts or Grandeco by a shuttle bus. Easy, no need to drive nor walk a lot.

    Both Alts and Grandeco are owned by Japanese major hotel chains. Alts is owned by Hoshino Resorts and Grandeco is owned by Tokyu Hotel, and they have family friendly ski-in ski out hotels. Alts might be better if your kids are into parks and you are interested in tours to Aizu Wakamatsu city. There is Nekoma ski resort on the opposite side of Alts and the ski resort is also owned by Hoshino Resorts, so if you stay at their Mt.Bandai Onsen Hotel, you can use their free shuttle bus to Nekoma. Nekoma is more for advanced skiers but Nekoma also has good parks, so if your kids are interested in parks, staying at the Hoshino Resorts hotel and skiing at Alts & Nekoma is better.

    The ski-in ski-out hotel Hoshino Resorts own at Alts Bandai: https://www.bandaisan.co.jp/en/ski2018/
     
  6. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2014
    Messages:
    1,946
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    As for Iwate, Appi Kogen.

    It's big. It has become more international and many English speaking staff. Plus, the resort hotels have some things to do after skiing such as swimming pool, table tennis, squash, badminton, gym, etc, you might not be interested in them because you are exhausted after skiing:p. It has Karaoke and I think there was a small game arcade as well when I stayed there a few years ago, not sure if they still have it after the recent big renovation, though. Appi Kogen is also easily accessible by use of public transport. A Shinkansen + a shuttle bus from Tokyo.
     
    #6 Ramenman, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  7. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    5,451
    Likes Received:
    1,683
    Ask and ye shall receive :cheers:
    Unbelievable how much knowledge the hive mind here can impart.
     
  8. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    Vermillion likes this.
  9. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2014
    Messages:
    1,946
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    As for Aomori, Aomori Spring Ski Resort. https://aomorispringski.com/

    I know you are not after off-piste, but Hakkoda Mountains have great views of Juhyo = ice / snow monsters and Hakkoda Ropeway is easily accessible from both the ski resort hotel and the nearest Shinkansen station.

    As for Akita, it's actually very snowy prefecture and has potential mountains but there aren't family friendly ski resorts for English speaking people nor easily accessible from Tokyo. I like Tazawako ski resort, but it's not very good for family with young kids.

    As for Sendai, ski resorts on Zao mountains might be good. Many people think Zao belongs to Yamagata Prefecture, but Zao mountains are around the border of Yamagata Pref and Miyagi Pref. Zao Echo Line is closed due to heavy snow from late autumn to late spring, so Zao ski resorts on Miyagi side are not accessible from Yamagata side and most people only go to Yamagata pref side. Zao ski resorts on Miyagi pref side are easily accessible from Sendai, the biggest city in Tohoku. Having said that, if you are interested in skiing Zao mountains and you have never skied there, I think visiting Zao Onsen ski resort in Yamagata pref is better.
     
    Vermillion likes this.
  10. Melskius

    Melskius Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    81
    Wow thanks for all the wonderful responses. So much to look into. We've skiied Shiga and Naeba before. We are traveling up top of honshu and back, but not across to hokkaido.
     
    #10 Melskius, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  11. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us
    Ski Pass - Silver

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2012
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    840
    If you're planning on staying at the actual resort, Zao Onsen is a really nice spot for a family. Certainly moreso than the clandestine Alts Bandai resort, which has very limited options around for food, drink and onsens. Japanese village with a ski resort vs. purpose built, bubble-era, stand-alone resort/hotel.

    Appi, as suggested, fits the bill nicely too I think, but I don't have any personal experience with the place.
     
    Ramenman likes this.
  12. elSpike

    elSpike Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    15
    We stayed at Appi a couple of seasons ago.

    It is exactly what you are looking for, for 1-2 days skiing with kids on blue-green groomers. The whole mountain is essentially that.
    http://www.appi-japan.com/winter/slope-guide.html They have some spectacular green runs on the lower mountain on the sailer side (left as you look at the piste map)

    We took a train and the shuttle from Morioka. I'm sure there are direct busses too. Hotel is fine, food choices are abysmal, but for 1-2 days you wont notice!

    If they had better food options, or a closer village, we would be back to Appi in a heartbeat.
     
  13. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    Zao would be a much better option than Hakkoda for the family for Juhyo. Zao has a nice gentle trail to see them which Hakkoda doesn't have.

    Not sure why you would think Tazawako would not be good for families? The lower slopes are quite wide and mellow and catered for by a couple of covered quad chairs. Not too many people so you can ski powder on the piste. Plus they have a nice large base lodge, although no ski in/out accommodation. But you are right about the lack of English speakers in Akita so that could be a factor.
     
    Vermillion likes this.
  14. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2014
    Messages:
    1,946
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    I agree. Zao is much better for the family for Juhyo, but the thread title was "Aizu, Sendai, and Aomori". Zao Onsen is in Yamagata, so I didn't mention Zao Onsen of Yamagata Pref side.

    Speaking of Tazawako, If I travel with a 5 year old kid, staying at English speaking ski-in ski-out hotels like Tokyu Hotel at Grandeco, Hoshino Resorts Hotel at Alts Bandai, Rockwood Hotel at Aomori Spring and the resort hotels at Appi is less tiring and less stressful for me. When I wrote it, I couldn't come up with a family friendly English speaking ski-in ski-out hotel at Tazawako because I usually stay at Nyuto Onsen or another onsen village nearby. But yes, Tazawako is good:cool:!
     
    Melskius likes this.
  15. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    That is one issue with Tazawako - if you need ski-in/out it won't suit as there isn't any. Closest accommodation is Mizusawa Onsen a couple of kms down the road, but you wouldn't walk to/from there especially with kids. The hotel I stayed at provided a shuttle service. The base day lodge though is very good, spacious with lots of good food options.
     
    Ramenman likes this.
  16. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    Have done a few trips through Tohoku - see TR's here. My priorities were a bit different though.
    Thinking about it a bit more - for a family with children, first time to Tohoku and perhaps keeping to places where there is at least a little bit of English I would probably go something like Alts Bandai, Zao Onsen, Morioka, Appi Kogen, then maybe Aomori Springs (though haven't been there myself). From Morioka there are a few day trip options, plus it is a city to mix it up a bit. You will get excellent value out of a JR East 5 day Tohoku flexi pass.
     
    Melskius and Ramenman like this.
  17. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    4,465
    Likes Received:
    1,309
    My 2 cents worth...from what you describe (and from recollections of my trip report from this past season) Aomori.
    Being a mellow mountain with some fun tree skiing (if you want) and a pretty comprehensive park (if you want) but if you don;t want then some very gorgeous groomer runs that will suit beginner to intermediates very nicely. Pus hotel at base is refurbished and mellow. And hotel outdoor onsen with views to coastal towns tat are awesome to look at at night with their lights on.
     
  18. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    4,465
    Likes Received:
    1,309
    I recommend the tomato ramen
     
  19. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    4,465
    Likes Received:
    1,309
    Also, Zao.
    Snow monsters and very good, wide groomers that (even during Chinese NY last Feb) were not particularly crowded. Big enough for variety.
    And, of course, the onsens in the village at the base. @Vermillion recommended an onsen to me. It was milky blue (and stikny sulphurous but, oh so nice!). And lots of hotels at the base too.
     
  20. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    4,465
    Likes Received:
    1,309
    Ok, one more....Alts Bandai. Variety and ticks all boxes for OP
     
  21. Tonester

    Tonester One of Us
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    4,465
    Likes Received:
    1,309
    I stayed in Aizuwakamatsu last season. It;s a great city to stay in BUT...it is a bit of a drive to the skijos each day. Not an issue for Tonester-san.....but may be for a family. It was especially an issue the morning after the night before a huge storm. It took much longer to get up the hill those days. So, perhaps staying a little closer to those resorts might suit you guys.
     
    Melskius likes this.
  22. Melskius

    Melskius Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    81
    thanks for all the awesome advice... our trip now looks a bit like this...

    Mon 25th feb – arrive at night – overnight narita or tokyo
    Tues 26th – tokyo – were thinking disney sea for kids but crowd predictor has 39K red zone.
    Wed 27th – travel to sendai – stopping of a nikko for the mid part of the day
    Thurs 28th – Sendai – doing a cruise of matsushima
    Fri 1st march – Sendai to aomori (maybe via Hachinohe)
    Sat 2nd – Aomori to Akita via the Resort shirakami train (5 hrs eeek -but apparently its beautiful)
    Sun 3rd 0 Akita to Aizuwakamatsu via Morioka
    Mon & tues – Ski in Aizu – probably Alts Bandai
    Wed 6th – Aizu to Yokohama (we like it here instead of tokyo)
    thurs 7th – yokohama/tokyo?? (could do disney sea only 36K predicted – still red zone)
    Fri 8th – fly out in evening.

    Any advice – places of interest, good places to stay that are pretty cheap?? Thanks so much. I know this is more a ski forum, but many of you have traveled around these areas. This will be our 4th trip.
     
  23. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    24,005
    Likes Received:
    6,031
    A lot of travel, but very little skiing...
    I would have skipped Aomori and had a couple of days in Appi instead.
     
    Vermillion and Ramenman like this.
  24. Melskius

    Melskius Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    81
    That was my conclusion as well. Think we will scrap this and start again.
     
  25. Vermillion

    Vermillion Pool Room
    Ski Pass - Gold

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Messages:
    68,734
    Likes Received:
    22,324
    You'll need more than a part of a day in Nikko. It'll be a few hours at the temples, also be warned they are now paywalled, which really sucks. You should also drive another 15-20mins depending on weather to nikkoyumoto, which is the hot spring source for Nikko. There's a really epic onsen there - Kyukamura Nikko-Yumoto, 温泉寺 Yumoto, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, they do a good lunch too. Depending on what time of year you go they will have ice sculptures there, and it's pretty quiet so easy to walk around and have a look. Onsen definitely recommended.
     
  26. Melskius

    Melskius Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    81
    Booked flights - 24th feb to 8th march.
    Now looks like 5 nights Naeba, 3 nights sendai for day trips to morioka and the coast, the 3 nights tokyo via aizuwakamatsu.