How much are you willing to spend on airfare? More than a grand if I can give you this?-
40-50 dollar lift tickets
no crowds (at all.)
2-3000 ft. of vert. depending.
lodging for 30-100$ a night.
Phenomenal food for 10-100$ a plate. (10$ is still fresh, it's just one course instead of 13.)
endless intermediate to advanced pow. (And, I do mean endless)
chill atmosphere (there is no scene
great hot springs
Come to Japan, mate. The airfare is a bite, but everything else is cheap. And- there is NO race for pow. I personally have 4 gondolas to my avail. Locals don't ski pow here. I don't cross a track from January to mid-March. Heck, I sleep-in knowing that it'll be a bottomless day until 4:45.
If you're willing to plan, like you are, and willing to put up with the flight, your trip will be world-class.
This place is an unknown paradise. Many have heard of it, but very few actually have the balls to go to a country where English isn't the primary language. They don't understand that the locals will actually apologize for their own English inadequacies. If you don't speak Japanese (which you don't) all you have to do say: excuse me... and they'll start apologizing. Develop a patience for that, and you're golden.
Since you're planning, you should sack up and actually take a trip.
A week in Japan is like a week of cat-skiiing for 10% the cost per day. I have literally been one of six people at the entire resort. One of six. Just gondolas and highspeed quads all for me.
I thank the lord for what I have here.
A room with a view: (Hakuba 47 in Nagano.)
A gondola's perspective: Happo-One, Nagano. (please ignore the blue tint = window) That is what's available UNDER the lift.
Fresh, crisp morning air: (Hachimantai, Aomori.) Here, I was one of six at the entire resort + hotel. 60$ got me dinner, bed, breakfast and lift ticket. And, then I skied this... all day.
mid-day snacks: I call this Fried Pork, because the entrance smells like fried pork as you traverse past the restaurant. Those dining just look at you like you're nuts for going where you're going. (Zao, Yamagata-- where I hold a pass.)
Afternoon Rush-hour: I'm running from my slough. (Hachimantai, Aomori.)
Rabbits. I call it Rabbits
because I have skied with about 10 or 12 different hares while hitting this. They freak out when you appear from nowhere and actually run down-hill, right next to you. This is Rabbits. My heart thumps just entering the area. I love skiing with rabbits: This abyss is about 700 vert. It may look like trees, but the avi-hazard is severe. (Zao, Yamagata: where I hold a pass.)
Dinner of Champions: (actually, that's like 90$ worth of Sushi- hefty, but for six?)
So-- Why haven't you skied in Japan yet? It's like your own private paradise. If you're already planning, you should just buy a ticket to Tokyo... and then worry about the rest later. Seriously. 600+ resorts. I'm one foreigner, and you're reading this...
Japan is a place where resort owners build the resort for a family business. They aim to be "exclusive." Exclusive means, no other people. The business plan here is the exact opposite to that of western for-profit organizations. They actually don't want growth, but... they want family security. They'll pamper you like mad, and then hope you never come back. If you do come back, they'll thank you for supporting their family-business. And then, you're treated like family. It's like heaven gets a second cloud.