Blue bird Snow days

Snowball Chalet at Madarao the perfect family accommodation

We often get asked lots of questions by families who want to come to Japan to experience the fabulous snow, culture, food and wildlife of Japan. We thought we would answer some of the most common questions here so people can feel confident they are coming to the right place. Families totally love staying with us and we love being a part of their holiday.

Ski School

Q. The number one question we get asked is... Is there an English speaking ski school?

A. There sure is. At the end of the street from the accommodation at Snowball Chalet is Aki's Ski School. It is an international ski school run by one of the Madarao locals Aki Kitamura san. All of his instructors are certified in either the European, North American, Australian or New Zealand systems. They all speak English and are excellent instructors. We can introduce you to Aki san if you would like to make reservations. We have had nothing but fantastic feedback from our guests who absolutely love their experiences with the school. If you are there to learn to ski or snowboard, improve your powder riding technique or just have a guide for the day Aki will make sure you have an amazing experience and go back for more.


Q. Do you serve breakfasts my kids will want to eat?

A. We know that a lot of people have fussy kids and breakfast can be the hardest meal in Japan for fussy eaters. We also know if you are doing battle with your kids about food it makes for a stressful time. At Snowball we put on a delicious spread and make sure there is something for everyone. We serve a beautiful array of cereals, fresh fruits, yogurts, fresh baked bread, pastries and condiments. We also do eggs and bacon to order. Yummy omelettes, poachies, boiled, fried and scrambled. Plus fo rthe traditionalists we do Dashi Maki Tamago (Japanese rolled omelette), steamed rice and seriously the most delicious home made miso soup with yuzu. It is unique and totally amazing. Next year we are introducing salads as well so people can get a vitamin hit to kick of the day.

Even better breakfast is included in the room rate so you don't have to think twice about it. Just come on down and help yourself the the fresh, healthy (mostly - we do have coco pops on occasion) and delicious morning meal.

Q. Coffee coffee coffee?

A. It goes without saying that we have coffee. We are hopelessly addicted in point of fact and could never get through a season without a proper machine and bean. Allpress is the bean we use for the most part and we have trained our staff to ensure your coffee fix is delivered in perfection and on time to boot up for an epic day of riding the mountain or exploring the Snow Monkeys.

Q. Are there good restaurants in Madarao?

A. The dinner options in Madarao are varied and excellent... Madarao has 25 restaurants and Snowball Chalet's staff will make sure that you have a reservation every night of your stay so you are never disappointed and so you never even have to think about the logistics. You arrive and relax and enjoy a relaxed and easy snow holiday. Our faves are Maroudo Sukiyaki (Japanese hotpot), Dunguritei (Japanese BBQ) and Shaggy Yak for some Japanese tapas and vinyl on the old school record decks.

Q. Is there après (drinks after skiing and snow boarding) at Snowball Chalet?

It wouldn't be a ski holiday without après drinks at the end of each ski day. When you arrive back at Snowball we will have our après bar set up and ready so you can enjoy a drink by the fire, relax, share your exploits in the epic snow with family and friends and get truly relaxed before the dinner plans take effect. Enjoy a lovely range of sake, wine, Japanese whisky, craft beers, schnapps (for schnappy time), yuzushu (Japanese citrus liquor), umeshu (Japanese plum wine), gluweihn and cocktails (our favourite is the Yuzu Martini). Yum yum!

The Skiing and Snowboarding

There is just so much easily accessible backcountry near the accommodation at Snowball Chalet

Q. What is the terrain like at Madarao?

A. Madarao is an entirely unique mountain in Japan in that people are encouraged to play in the trees all over the mountain. There are normal runs and tree runs for every level of skier and boarder. There are cruisy groomers and crazy steep tight trees and everything in between. Because the forests have been opened to riding it means there is a mind boggling amount of exploring to do. You could easily not ski the same thing twice in two weeks of skiing here if you are a little intrepid. At the end of a whole season of skiing we were still finding things we had never skied before... Madarao looks small on paper but is totally amazing in reality.

Gear Hire

Q. Can I hire good gear in Madarao or do I need to bring it from home?

A. Madarao has excellent hire shops for ski and snowboard gear. The hire store can cater from absolute beginner all the way up to powder charger looking for full rocker powder weapons. We always think for those of you who strap 2 planks to your feet it is always better to bring your own custom fitted boots but if you do decide to rent in Madarao you will still be happy. For snowboarders you can definitely hire comfy boots on mountain so no need to bring gear.

You can hire ski pants and ski jackets from the hire stores as well as helmets. We do always recommend that people buy their own helmets as you never know what kind of life the hire ones have had. 

You won't be able to hire gloves or goggles but you can easily buy them in town. If you get super cold then make sure you bring mitts with you so you are happy and comfy. Madarao doesn't get super cold like Hokkaido but everyone runs at different temperatures so if you know you suffer make sure you bring warm and cozies with you.


Q. Is it hard to get to our accommodation at Snowball Chalet?

A. It is so easy to get to Madarao from Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Osaka. For details check out our

From Tokyo it is just 101 minutes by Bullet Train (Shinkansen) to the bottom of our mountain and from there it is just 20 minutes in a taxi right to the front door of Snowball Chalet. That means you can leave Tokyo in the morning and easily be skiing by 9:30am. Really doesn't get better than that.

Q. How far is it to the ski run from the accommodation at Snowball Chalet?

A. It is so close! Just 5 doors away and across a small road (which is normally covered in snow because Madarao is amazing). It is an almost flat walk so it is easy as pie even with young kids. Because the ski school is also just 5 doors away it is super easy to get the kids to ski school too.

Posted on Mon 01 April 2019