There are plenty of reasons why Japan is consistently mentioned as a bucket-list travel destination. Delicious food, onsen, convenience and Japanese hospitality are just a handful that naturally spring to mind, but there’s one other thing that has been bringing (and keeping) people here for decades: Japanese powder snow, or, as it is affectionately known — “Japow”.
Tokyoites are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to enjoy the much coveted Japow but, with so much to consider when it comes to picking the perfect family snow trip location, finding a place that covers all bases is rare.
One place that has become a go-to for Tokyo families in recent years thanks to its ideal temperatures, convenient access from Tokyo, plenty of Japow and an award-winning snowsports school is Lotte Arai Resort in Myoko.
The first thing that Lotte Arai has going for it is its easy access from Tokyo. At just two hours on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and a 20-minute shuttle from Joetsu Myoko Station it’s no wonder the resort is equally popular for both weekend and extended stays.
Another thing that sets Myoko apart from other winter destinations is the weather. While Myoko has more annual snowfall than other popular destinations like Niseko, even mid-winter temperatures are comparatively mild, meaning fewer layers to wear and less to pack.
When it comes to hitting the slopes, the resort has options for everyone from beginners to advanced, with plenty of ungroomed terrain to keep things interesting for more adventurous riders. Whether you’re looking to relax after a long day of riding or you’re taking a day off the slopes, the resort’s amenities feature pools, onsen, rock climbing, trampolining and numerous bars and restaurants, leaving few reasons to leave the resort after checking in.
On top of that, despite the huge amount of snowfall the resort experiences each year, visitors can enjoy peace of mind on the slopes thanks to the resort’s attention to safety and advanced avalanche control systems. Combine these world-class amenities with the range of programs available at the adjacent Myoko Snowsports and every member of the family can choose their own adventure.
Having won Japan’s best snowsports school at the Ski Asia awards in 2020, parents can feel confident that they’re leaving their kids in safe and capable hands at Myoko Snowsports. With a variety of group classes for kids aged three to fourteen, Myoko Snowsports places emphasis on safety, fun and learning in a friendly environment.
The three to six-year-old kids program offers both morning and full-day courses which include play time and lunch in the specially-designed kids’ center, where students can get to know each other and build trust with their instructors.
The seven to fourteen-year-old classes are full-day options, including lunch in one of the on-mountain restaurants, and all groups are capped at four students — meaning kids can get started quickly and make the most of their time on the slopes.
In addition to the group programs, Club Fuyu is a camp-style program available for seven to eighteen year olds on weekends throughout the snow season or as a six-day spring camp program from late March until early April. Designed to teach kids various mountain skills and enhance their overall snow experience, each day has a different schedule featuring a variety of themed activities including mountain exploration, races and safety exercises. Lunches for the younger students feature a rotating menu with attention to dietary requirements and COVID safety.
While the kids are out brushing up on their turns, there’s no shortage of activities for parents on and off the slopes. For those keen to make the most of the snow, private adult programs are available for groups of up to four guests, and the price and duration of each program are fixed regardless of group size and flexibly tailored to your goals and ability level.
For those looking for something special to take home from your trip, private photo shoots are available to book for one hour or more which include edited, high resolution copies of all your shots and one printed photo to take home. Whether you’re after family photos or action shots in the powder, your professional photographer will consult with you and tailor your shots to your preferences.
In addition to the snowsports programs, events such as wine tasting and back-slalom races are organized throughout the season by the resort staff. Off the slopes, the resort features 11 restaurants and bars, indoor and open-air hot springs and swimming pools, a day spa, library and a cafe for guests to enjoy as well as meeting rooms and high-speed wifi for those working remotely. On top of that, with most of these amenities offering room-charge services, guests can enjoy a relatively cash-free holiday.
Having only opened in 2017, Lotte Arai and Myoko Snowsports have already developed a loyal following of returning customers. Whether it’s families returning from year to year, or weekend to weekend, the team at Myoko Snowsports have helped their customer’s skills grow with every return visit.
The brand new facilities have already earned Lotte Arai the title of Japan’s Best Ski Resort but, while it’s still relatively off the radar, you can expect fresh tracks and short lift lines, even on busier days. After the snow has melted, a variety of summer activities, including the Tree Adventure Course, outdoor pool and Asia’s longest zipline are available for visitors as well as the local nature which includes cherry blossoms, rivers and picturesque mountain vistas.
Until then though, with plenty of Japow remaining and snowsports programs open until early April, now is your chance to experience the relatively unknown gem that is Lotte Arai Resort.