Furano is a much more Japanese experience than Niseko. Much less developed. The terrain is more challenging and the back- and side-country are excellent with some really great onsens. Furano is tougher to get to, and tougher to get around, but 9 times out of 10, I'd go to Furano over Niseko.
You'll have some good options from Ueda but none super-close by. The better resorts will be a bit to the north. Shiga-kogen is the closest, good, major one. A little further are Nozawaonsen and Madarao. Both worth the drive for sure. If you think you'll really get into snowboarding/skiing, definitely buy a car.
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