Well, what ski area on Honshu wasn't having snow problems around the new year?
Still, that aside, the lack of snow making machines really surprised me. For the price, Gran Deco is not bad. Even for such a busy time as Jan. 2, there were only three people at the ticket counter, and the line snaked its way out the door all the way to the parking lot tunnel.
The lifts were somewhat convenient at the base, but better on the hill. However, I prefer using the electronic chips instead of the paper tickets. And one thing that I can't get over and maybe I just need to chill out, but I can't stand the way the lines are generally formed at the lifts in Japan. At Gran Deco, there was only one lift where singles or doubles had their own line where the staff member would efficiently make fours for the quad lift. Every other lift, ski time was wasted because many people didn't want to get on with people they didn't know, or if one was snowboarding, they didn't want to ride on a twin lift with a skier. Over a day, that time adds up.
Having said that, the hills were a good challenge for a medium level skier, and the courses on the left were challenging and fun as you had to weave between trees and negotiate ups and downs and turns. But I have to say, when someone falls, thats ok, get up and try again. We all fall, however, at least get out of the middle of the course. I had to adjust my lines many times because of fallen boarders who just sat there, sometimes in groups chit-chatting about their flop. Sure go ahead and talk, but get out of the way first.
Anyway, for anyone who can ski well on most joukyuu courses, this place will be boring for you. Again though, a good place for families.