First time to Japan - with kids

MarkGC

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G'day I'm a loooong time lurker first time poster.

I am looking at heading to Japan in 2011. I can either go in Late Jan or Late March. I have 4 kids who range from ski demons (9 & 7) to our youngest (4) who will ski for the first time in a few days.

I am just wanting opinions on whether the weather in Jan is too much for young kids in different regions, or if I go in March am I missing the powder and Japan you pay for? (i.e. is it going to be like Perisher in a normal August).

Also has anyone sent their kids to ski schools in Japan? Are they as good as Aus and is there a language barrier?

Thanks
 

smitty484

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So many different options.

Weather on Honshu is generally milder than Hokkaido. Obviously Jan will be much colder than late March. You will save a lot of coin by going in March.

Others will probably disagree with me (an I don't have young kids), but I would go in Jan for the simple fact it will be colder and snowier...however you may or may not be that worried.

Ski school: more western resorts will be fine, more remote areas won't be.
 

Born2ski

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Ok, some background info on me: I have two kids (4yr old, 1 yr old). Have been taking the kids on overseas ski trips every year since my oldest was 9 months old. Have been to Canada, USA and Europe with young kids. This coming northern winter will be our first time in Japan.
After a lot of research and many questions on this forum we will be travelling to Myoko for two weeks at the end of January. Why ?
We chose Myoko because it's close to Tokyo(closer than Niseko), receives a large amount of snow, has relaxed tree skiing policy, reasonable priced accommodation, childcare for infants and english speaking ski schools.

I'm sure a few others on here will be able to give you some more good info.
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loklok

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FWIW, Niseko is chock full of Aussies, so you won't feel completely lost.

This won't help you, I know, but I remember living in Japan for a year as an 18 yo, and being taught skiing for the first time by (non-English-speaking) instructors. It was fine. Watch and follow - just like in Oz.
 

M_G

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Basically supporting everything that B2S said. Snow in Myoko is not constant so you will get some nice bluebird days, some nice pow days and some crappy 'does it ever stop snowing?' days. Hence I'd probably plump for January if headed this way. Late March can be a bit hit and miss so I'd be looking at Hokkaido at that time of year rather than Honshu.
 

LMB

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We have taken kids to Niseko in April and January (multiple times), and we have been to Hakuba in March.

Thrilled with our experience every time.
I was really worried about our first time with the kids - cold, how much snow etc...but it was a walk in the park. An extra midlayer and making sure the thermals are good ones and you are all good.
Ski School in Niseko is very Aussie kid friendly.

I have not personally experienced them but I have heard good reports re: kids with Club Med Sahoro (?kids u12 ski not board though unless that has changed...if you have boarders pls check this out first), and Tomamu.

Good luck - enjoy.
 

biri_island_surf

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hi mark , first of all welcome .
now take a look at the snowjapan website , mostly under the snow resorts section , that will give you a lot of info on snowdepths and temps for the months u want . also the major resorts have a daily report under say SHIGA KOGAN NOW going back in some places to 2002 [ the reports are independent and not put out by the resorts ] .
you live up in our area so u will probably take the star up to tokyo or osaka , chance is they will discount for the march period [ never in january ] . also lift tickets , accommodation , will be much cheaper in march .
this year niseko had a good late march i think ? next year is a mystery of course but the snow will be much better then perisher ot thredbo at any time .
a bonus for me with young kids is a visit to disney land and sea .

anyway all the best , japan is great , i have booked 2 trips to japan already for 2011 .
 

Sandy

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There's hardly much need to check snowdepths, as Japan get far more snow than Australia.

The best percentage for a complete deep base(when there is little chance of low cover) is from a week or two after New Year, in central Japan. Optimum times tend to be last week in Jan - last week in Feb. In Hokkaido, the optimum times tend to be from 2nd week in Jan, first couple of weeks in March.
An average year will of course, be way longer than this.

Chinese New Year is Thursday February 3rd 2011. The time Thu 3rd - Sun 6th Feb will be the most crowded time on the slopes, as many people from China & places like Hong Kong, Singapore, etc come to Japan for the snow.

Hakuba has two English language ski schools, one at Happo, and one at Imorii (Goryu). Both seem to be good, but the one at Goryu is better IMO.

Central Japan has less severe cold than Hokkaido.
 

Crystal

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Agree with what others have said above...

regarding the timing, we hit Niseko this Jan and it was fine, we have 2 young kids (2 & 6). Wind closed the hill a few days but that is just Niseko I think.

Your comment on powder...interesting. On the mega powder days it was very hard for our 6 year old as he is very light for his age. I actually had trouble getting him off the groomers and out into the deep powder as he just couldn't get out on top of it. Moiwa was a classic, we would speed off the groomers and try to hit the runs head on to pop up on top.... he was just to little and would go in waist deep and get stuck. We laughed so much but unfortunately unless it was super steep (where he could get some speed up) we were stuck to the groomers...he was okay with that. So maybe march is better for the younger one.
 
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LMB

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Crystal we had very experienced adults with us who preferred to stay on the groomers because the powder was just too much for them off them - if there was a dump they would ride the pow covered groomers. Was more the skiers than the boarders who felt this way.

Our youngest (10 last Jan) did have a dummy spit one particularly deep day down Miharashi - he really struggled to 'stay above it' - got a pic of him coming down just prior to the dummy spit where all you can see is the teensy tip of his helmet. But the brilliant thing about Niseko and Rusutsu for us was that a large group of skiers and boarders could head out together and find fun on whatever they preferred...groomers, powder on the edges of groomers and tree's that line the groomers, or off out the gates into the deep untamed stuff....and still all meet at the lift.

We enjoyed late season, but I wouldn't choose to go in March specifically to avoid the deeper powder for the childs sake.
 

Crystal

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Mamabear , I was really referring to their 4 year old.... and also first time skiing for the wee one. But Japan anytime of winter would be fantastic….the question was if you had to choose..so I answered the question. I have seen Japan in Dec/Jan and March/April. It's all good.
 

Sandy

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Crystal said:
Mamabear , I was really referring to their 4 year old.... and also first time skiing for the wee one. But Japan anytime of winter would be fantastic….the question was if you had to choose..so I answered the question. I have seen Japan in Dec/Jan and March/April. It's all good.

This should be qualified by saying Hokkaido in Dec/Jan and March/April.

Central Japan is more variable, and I'd say it's good Jan-March.
 
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rangerider

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If you go in late Jan you'd be almost certain to get great snow just about anywhere on Honshu or Hokkaido. If you go in late March (late season) I'd be leaning towards Hokkaido because it's usually colder. You could score some great powder days or spring skiing on a very deep base or a mixture of both over a week or 2. Some awesome deals to be had in March but it's a bit of a gamble but the gamble paid off big time for us in Niseko from the 16th -25th March this year.
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Donza

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I'm taking my little girl late Feb early march to Hakuba....mainly for the warmer , sunnier and quieter conditions...
Personally I wouldn't do Niseko in Jan with little ones in tow. Its just a bit hectic village weather wise. It can be bitter in the village in Jan.
Much less in March IMO.
Hakuba being in a valley doesn't really get the gnarly village conditions like Niseko does.
Have you thought about Furano in March???? I reckon that would be a great place for kids (zoo nearby, big town etc etc)
we'll still get enough soft snow to keep us happy..
 

biri_island_surf

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i skiied furano last year in march and niseko this year in march , both are great . furano has the advantage of very little people on the slopes . niseko is very much more an international resort .
not many apartments in furano , so i will recommend these two 1 - freshpowder 2 - tsuru .
freshpowder is right on the kitanomine gondola , tsuru about 5 mins walk but hiro the owner will drive u there for free . tsuru has a cosy little japanese restaruant .
you can book direct with these 2 apartments and save on the agent fees .
only punters i have seen at the furano / kitanomine ski / board schools were japanese school children but they do say they have english speaking instructors ?

note - notice the difference in apartment price , from january and march .
 

LMB

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Crystal said:
Mamabear , I was really referring to their 4 year old.... and also first time skiing for the wee one. But Japan anytime of winter would be fantastic….the question was if you had to choose..so I answered the question. I have seen Japan in Dec/Jan and March/April. It's all good.
I know.

And having taken mine for a first time look at snow ever (end March beg April) in Japan 4 years ago (boy was 6 then) - and since gone back twice in January - AND been a deadset worry wart over how cold/how deep the snow would be etc etc. My considered opinion in retrospect is March or January will be fabulous, and I needn't have worried so much.

Bottom line is that a 4 yr old, first timer is not likely to head off piste into the deep anyway. If the little one is a cold hater, the kind of kid that gets blue lips at swimming lessons - then you might wanna tend more to March or head to Honshu. But my older 3 don't even wear thermals in Niseko in Janaury. Ski pants, a tee shirt and a shell Jacket and they are out the door. Nutters! Our last day 2 yrs ago they walked down to get the lift passes swapped for the deposit in SHORTS and TEE SHIRTS!
 
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MarkGC

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Thanks to everyone

We head off to Perisher for the annual trip next Friday. Once the little one has a week at it I think I'll feel a little more confident, alternatively we may consider a corresponding holiday at Grandma's for her.

We have been thinking of doing Japan for years, but the current conditions have really got the wife interested for this year. So I guess some good can come out of the present Aus snow conditions.
 

chivvo

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Hey mark, I must be going the same week as you, see you there. We should do a private lesson or two together
I would suggest that if you decide to go to Japan in January or March, you should take your little brother, whoever he is
 
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