There are a lot of ski resorts out there that claim to be family-friendly… for children that are about three and up. But there’s a bit of a gap in the market for really little ones, which is tough when you prefer to ski without a small baby in tow.

Enter Myoko Kogen in Japan, the answer to everyone’s baby-friendly ski resort dreams.

My partner and I took our seven-month-old, Darcy, and just about all of his belongings, and had a much easier and more enjoyable time than expected.

Here’s your family-friendly guide to skiing and staying in Myoko Kogen, with exactly what worked for us.

Make your journey there as easy as possible

Darcy ready for the bullet train

We wanted to minimise stress when jumping from transport to transport, especially when navigating the speedy Shinkansens (bullet trains), or all the stairs in the train stations (not all of which have lifts!).

The best tip is to bookend your ski holiday with stays in Tokyo, and send your snow gear straight to the slopes with the Yamanto Transport service, also known as the Black Cat. From Narita or Haneda airport, they can magically whisk your skis/boards and luggage off to your destination. Just allow one to two days for it to get there, and pop an Airtag in the bag to make sure you can double check its whereabouts.

Travelling lighter made life that much easier when it was time to get to Nagano from Tokyo, followed by a local train to the town of Myoko Kogen.

Choose your hotel wisely

Hotel Silverhorn is the kind of ski lodge that people book and return to, season after season. With a variety of rooms available, including suites, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, our unit was large enough for all the baby stuff we had to bring – including heaps of floor space for Darcy to test his newfound rolling skills. An absolute luxury in a country known for small hotel rooms.

Upon arrival, they had a cot all set up in our room, a baby bouncer sitting in the lounge when we wanted to sit back with a drink, and a high chair ready to go in the restaurant at dinner time.

Darcy relaxing while we were getting fitted for rentals

We prioritised convenience on this trip, and Hotel Silverhorn delivered. Located directly across from the Myoko Gondola station at Akakura Kanko Resort, you can just look out the window to see what conditions on the slopes are like. When we were on-mountain and a day went from bluebird to cloudy, I just walked across the road to switch the lenses of my ski goggles.

But the convenience didn’t stop there. The private onsen within the hotel was the perfect place to slip away for a bit of me-time without having to go too far, and the in-house restaurant was incredible for breakfast, après snacks and dinner. They also provided free transfers to and from the ski school/child care, train station and any external dinner reservations.

Sign up for child care that you can trust

Darcy at Myoko Snowsports child care

Every single person we saw in Myoko Kogen asked the same question: “How do you ski with the baby? Do you take turns looking after him?”

But there’s no need when there’s a ski-in, ski-out child care run by Myoko Snowsports at the base of Akakura Onsen and Kanko ski resorts, catering for children aged six months through to four years old.

Open from 8.15am to 4.30pm daily, parents can opt for morning, afternoon or full-day sessions, with lunch included for morning and full-day programs. It was early enough that we could drop Darcy off first thing and get right in line for the lifts opening at 8.30am.

We were there at a quiet time of the season, and Darcy was lucky enough to spend two days solo with the qualified educator on duty – thriving so much on the one-on-one attention that he had a three-hour nap, ate a curry for the first time ever, and never even noticed we were gone.

We ducked back in each day at lunchtime to feed and check on him anyway (#helicopterparents) and also invested in an eSim so the girls on duty could call us via Whatsapp if anything went wrong.

Hot tip: We also rented our skis, boots and gear through Myoko Snowsports, and opted for a couple of adult lessons. As they were all interconnected, there were little details that made things more convenient: for example, they valeted our skis directly from the rentals shop to the ski school meeting location, which also happened to be right outside the child care.

More tips – plan carefully and get your hotel to help

There are a few things about Japan that surprised us, like…

  • Not every restaurant is baby-friendly. Beyond our hotel, we only found one restaurant with a high chair that was suitable for a seven-month-old, and it was burger restaurant Calico Myoko (new for the 2023/24 winter season). We sat him on our lap at most others, although our concierge at Hotel Silverhorn did book us in for Shibata, where the Japanese waitress loved Darcy so much that she took him and walked him around the kitchen.
  • Nappies are close to impossible to find. Again, the concierge at Silverhorn gave us a heads-up that she’d never seen them for sale around town, so we packed enough to get us through our stay.
  • Food is still cheap, but transport can blow out the budget quickly – especially taxis. Make sure you find out which transfers are included in your accommodation, as it can go a long way in saving $$$.
  • In future, I’d pack even lighter. We brought a Portacot that we didn’t end up needing, along with a travel pram that was almost redundant thanks to the baby carrier  – and prioritise backpacks over wheeled suitcases or tote bags.

Above all – enjoy

It’s probably not going to be the sort of ski hoilday where you’re going to be dancing on tables in your ski boots, or skiing first lift to last lift without stopping, or sampling the best bars around town.

But you will have other unforgettable moments. Like the first time your baby notices a snowflake falling in the trees. Or when you get to play in the snow together as a family. Or when someone points at the baby on the train and says “kawaii!”

And there’s always that moment… when your skis are pointing straight down the hill and you’re going the perfect speed and the snow is so, so soft underneath your feet… that you know all of it – the packing, the travel, the hassle – is so worth it. And Myoko Kogen is the perfect place to discover it all.

Natalia was a guest of Hotel Silverhorn and Myoko Snowsports.

Is this Tokyo’s most family-friendly hotel? We think so.