Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. As I mentioned in my previous post, I skied Japan (about 2.5 years ago). There was a thread on this about a year ago, so try doing a search of the archives if possible.
I was in Tokyo on business for 2 weeks in February, and I knew I was going to have a 3 day weekend to explore, so I did some research before I left. There are 2 main areas to ski. The closest to Tokyo is where Nagano is located. It's about 2 hours from Tokyo, I think. It tends to get pretty crowded. The other area is on the island of Hokaido, which is where Sapporo is located. I went there, since getting transportation & lodging in the Nagano area was difficult on short notice.
We ended up going to a place called Niseko Anapurin (?). Niseko is actually 3 resorts on 1 mountain, but you can get a skipass for all 3. Flight from Tokyo was about 1.5 hours, followed by a 3 hour bus ride. A Japanese co-worker made all our arrangements, and wrote a note to hand to the bus driver to make sure we got to the right place.
It snowed like crazy! From the minute we arrived at the hotel until an hour before we left 2 days later, it did not stop snowing. Dry cold powder, coming in off the Korean Sea from Siberia. Very windy up top. Although there are 1 or 2 places that cater to westerners on Hokaido (I think Club Med has a place), this was strictly Japanese. I think we saw 5 gaijin (Japanese for foreigner) the whole time there. I had a great time, and it was an unforgetable experience.
When we arrived late at night, we sat down in the bar for some sake & looked up at some of the night skiing that was in progress on the slope outside our window. I couldn't believe they were mashing the pow down w/ snowcats!
: The next day, though, I understood why. There was so much snow coming down, that most average skiers would not have been unable to handle it. My co-worker hadn't skied in 10 years, and it nearly killed him.
Be prepared for some unique lift experiences. There are a mix of lifts, from gondolas to ancient chair lifts. I took a single "chair" up near the top. It was no more than a plywood board the size of lunch tray, attached to a bar connecting to the cable. No seat back, no foot rest, no safety bar. There I was, swinging in the wind about 40 feet up in the air, snow flying everywhere.
They get a lot of snow on the northern island. Much better sking than I had anticipated. I can't say whether I just got lucky, but it was worth the trip. The Japanese were all very polite, but seemed a bit bemused that a gaijin would be skiing there. Being Swedish and all, I thought their puzzlement was pretty funny myself. Until I looked into it though, I'd never realized there was so much skiing in Japan. Compared to the US, it was very reasonably priced, too. I plan to go back, hopefully in a year or 2 with some of my kids. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]