Hit­ting the slopes

Holiday with Kids - - Japan -

Onsen is a large mixed- gen­der hot spring, but the baths of Nyuto Onsen are my favourite: set in the coun­try­side and dream­like in the snow.

Ja­pan is a coun­try where tech­nol­ogy, cul­ture and his­tory col­lide. Ev­ery­where you go, you’re sure to find some­thing kawaii (cute). Kids can eas­ily make a game of spot­ting minia­turised sa­mu­rai sol­diers hid­den un­der the red maple trees that sur­round his­toric tem­ples and onsen.

Cas­tles and ki­mono

Sa­mu­rai, cas­tles and war­lords... what kid wouldn’t be fas­ci­nated by Ja­panese his­tory? At Kakun­o­date, a town famed for its well­p­re­served sa­mu­rai houses and cherry blos­som trees, we play dress-ups with tra­di­tional ki­mono, get­ting wrapped in lay­ers of beau­ti­ful pat­terned silks, and learn about the in­tri­ca­cies of Ja­panese cul­ture.

Hirosaki Cas­tle is also a must-see, built in 1611 by the Tsug­aru Clan, and set within the Hirosaki Park, a prime spot for a cher­ry­blos­som watch­ing pic­nic dur­ing spring. The cas­tle is among the old­est still stand­ing in To­hoku; even af­ter the orig­i­nal five-storey keep burnt down in 1627, the present three-storey tower, dat­ing from 1810, is one of few that was not re­built in the mod­ern era. Stroll through the park, row a boat on the moats or ex­plore the yagura or cor­ner tur­rets that still sur­vive.

Be sure to also visit Chu­son-ji Bud­dhist tem­ple in the Iwate Pre­fec­ture; kids will be fas­ci­nated by its gold leaf-and-mother- of-pearl Golden Hall, a mau­soleum for the mum­mies of the North­ern Fu­ji­wara clan who ruled much of this part of Ja­pan in the 12th cen­tury! The cold, crisp air that comes blow­ing across from Siberia gives the snow in Ja­pan a su­per-white fluffy feel known as ‘as­pirin snow’. To­hoku’s slopes are typ­i­cally less crowded than the re­sorts of the north­ern is­land of Hokkaido, mak­ing it a per­fect des­ti­na­tion for young fam­i­lies or first-timers. Of course, with that in­cred­i­ble pow­der, there’s plenty to of­fer ad­vanced skiers and snow­board­ers, too.

There are two pop­u­lar re­sorts in the re­gion: Hakkoda, near Ao­mori, and Appi. Appi is one of the big­gest, con­sid­ered the St Moritz of Ja­pan with glit­ter­ing ho­tel tow­ers and an end­less list of ad­ven­tures off the slopes. It also shares a lat­i­tude with St An­ton and Aspen, guar­an­tee­ing an amaz­ing snow ex­pe­ri­ence. www.jnto.org.au

JAL flies from Aus­tralia to Tokyo Narita Air­port. www.au.jal.com

Ho­tel Tawadaso www.jnto.go.jp/ja-search/eng

www.appi-ja­pan.com

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