Thanks. I've been here a little over 7 years. I learned to snowboard here...before that I was never on a mountain with snow.
Bring your gear with you. Good gear is cheaper in the States. I go on an annual pilgrimmage to Colorado and bring Japanese friends with me. They buy everything there...so much cheaper.
Good gear...h'mmm...flotation is important - it's not as steep here as the U.S...that's not always true but it often is.
I really like Lib Tech boards although I haven't ridden the banana technology yet. I also like Never Summer. If possible, bring a powder board and a smaller, ice board. I ride everything so I like to be prepared. Otherwise, go with something that works in both places...that's where the Lib Tech comes in. Travis Rice models work well for that.
Food here is excellent. People are friendly. Learn 50 to 100 words in Japanese. Once you start trying, folks here will try their English and the party's on.
It's very safe here...nice to know. BTW, we've had a great start to the year. I'll be doing an overnight trip to Shiga Kogen in 1 1/2 weeks and another in Hakuba at the end of the month.
Serious powder right now. My leg is already burning.