It’s not all skiing in Hakuba: Must-dos for the whole family

Did you know Hakuba has 10 different ski resorts? It was also the site for the 1998 Winter Olympics, so you know for sure there are some spectacular runs. You’ll also find bumps and dips along the pistes to manoeuvre through called mogul fields.

We know what you’re thinking: This is where the hardcore mid to upper-level skiers and snowboarders play. What are the kids going to do? You can’t leave your parents indoors. Should you head to Niseko yet again?

No. Well, yes to Niseko, if you haven’t been yet; that #JaPow is really something to behold, but don’t write off Hakuba as too advanced for you or your family. Here are some of the best family-friendly activities for children of all ages!

#1 Snow parks

Fur kids aside, there are outdoor play areas for children at most of Hakuba’s ski resorts. Step onto a moving sidewalk (or magic carpet) to the top and race down the gentle slope on a toboggan, tube, or sled. Sakka and Goryu’s kid’s parks even have indoor cafeteria areas to warm up in when you want to scroll through the 1,052 pictures and videos you just took for the family album!

#2 Soak in an onsen with snow monkeys

Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash

Wild monkeys bathing in natural hot springs? Yes, please! Depending on how much you want to tire out the kiddos, you can either take a 25-40 minute hike through the forest, or a short 10-15 minute stroll from a parking lot to get to the Jigokudani Monkey Park. You’ll get unbelievably close to them and though they’re used to people, remember not to look them in the eye.

#3 Reach for enlightenment at Zenkō-Ji Temple

Image from Living Nomads

There is a pitch-black tunnel in the basement of this 7th-century temple’s main hall. Attached to the wall somewhere along this tunnel is the “key to paradise”. It is said that anybody who finds it and touches it in the complete darkness will find a fast track to heaven. Make of that what you will!

#4 Swing away with Otari Daiko 

The ancient Japanese art of the taiko drum is demonstrated by a local professional troupe called the Otari Daiko Performers. You can even step up and learn how to play with the team. We know you came to work your buns on the ski slopes, but here’s something for your arms as well!

#5 Take in history at Matsumoto Temple

Image from Matsumoto Castle

With more than 400 years of history, this beautifully preserved castle is one of the great National Treasures of Japan. The main keep still has the original wooden interiors and external stonework, and there are many inter-connecting walls to explore. You can even climb to the highest level for some stunning views or catch a ride if the rickshaw puller is waiting at the castle’s main gate.

#6 Wander the wilderness with Snowshoes

Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

Hakuba’s remote areas are riddled with endless trails from mountain ridge to deep forest. There are even shrines dotting the way as you experience some of Japan’s best Alpine views. Gather your double-digit kids together, strap on tennis racquets (just kidding, snowshoes are way more high tech than that) to your feet and explore the wilderness.

#7 Take a “wild” ride on a snow raft

Image from Hakuba Lion Adventure

Keen to ride a snowmobile but want to make it a family affair? Hop aboard a snow raft for an adrenaline rush that’s suitable for all ages. Your kids will love slipping and sliding as you’re towed through a course of jumps, dips, and waves for a fun-filled and windy ride. If there are snow bananas, we say jump on those too.

Planning your holiday yet?

Chloe Pharamond

This nomad's natural habitat is napping under a shady tree on the beach with a book clutched in hand. She likes fresh coconuts with a healthy splash of rum, organic conversations that meander into the night and getting lost in new places.

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