I've done Japan twice now, there are a few threads on this already so have a bit of a search.
I have been to Hakuba, Niseko and Rusutsu
Hakuba, steep hills, heaps of resorts to choose from. Quaint villiage that hasnt been overrun by westerners (yet). you need to rely on shuttle buses and taxis to get around tho as a lot of stuff isn't within walking distance and is a bit scattered.
Quality of snow in Hakuba can vary a little, when we were there we started out with 3 days of non stop rain followed by a decent powder dump.
Hot tip for Hakuba - take a day trip to Cortina, 5000 yen for a lift pass, 1000 yen towards lunch and it includes an onsen visit at the end of the day at the hotel.
If you want the best snow in the world tho, go to one or 2 of the Hokkaido resorts;
Niseko - powder powder powder, the snow there is incredible. Go there any time from December to March and you will get powder. The pistes at niseko are fairly tame with a fairly gentle gradient but out the back through gated runs and backcountry tours is where Niseko comes into its own. Huge amounts of untracked powder if you know where to look.
The villiage at Niseko is very convenient to get around, everything is walking distance and it has a more practical layout than Hakuba.
Plenty of nightlife in Niseko as well but for better or worse it is basically a western invasion town. If you want to get away from the westerners then take a day trip to;
Rusutsu - good mountain, uncrowded, excellent snow, 1hr from Niseko by bus. We spent a day trip there and what really stood out about this mountain was the tree runs. Riding in the trees is technically against the rules in Japan and they can confiscate your lift pass if you do it. But imo its worth it at Rusutsu, the beauty of this place is any tree run you decide to dive into will inevitably wind up at a lift or out on another run, same can't be said for all tree runs which often spit you out into the bottom of a valley that you have to climb out of. Rusutsu doesnt have a town at its base as such, rather a giant hotel and theme park. It is quirky in its own right but I would recommend staying in niseko and day tripping here.
Next Japan holiday for me will include Furano, another Hokkaido resort that hasn't been overrun by western assholes (like me)
I absolutely love Japan, I can't get enough of the place. It depends on your skill levels a lot and wether you have much experience riding powder as to which resort I would recommend. If you want well qualified english instruction then go to Niseko as they cater very well to westerners, while the lessons you get in Hakuba will suck by comparison.
For my next trip I plan to do a week in Furano and a week in Niseko.
Last edited by Reede; 04-17-2010 at 12:17 AM.