Visited with the kid on a snowy day; snow conditions were very good, though we missed out on the views the area is famous for.
Access by car is very easy, just 10-15 minutes from the expressway. And the parking is free, which is a nice change from most ski areas in the region. There is one pay lot on the Minero side, independently owned I suppose, which will try to fast-talk one into parking there, in exchange for lift and rental discounts. We managed, however, to park in a free, if somewhat distant, parking lot on the Chuo side. A circulating bus brought us from there to the Chuo ticket counter.
The ski area is really two in one, Chuo and Minero, both separately operated but tied together. The Chuo side is the older side, dating back to 1959, and one can feel the history there with the kind of charmingly dated architecture in the base area, and evidence here and there of abandoned trails and even a decommissioned lift remaining on the slope facing Minero.
The Minero side is newer, dating to 1993, and the trails have a more modern, sculpted feel to them. The base lodge facilities look quite new and nice.
The Chuo side offers mostly beginner and intermediate trails, and the Minero side more intermediate and expert trails. The two areas are connected by a traverse at the top, and by a connecting loop at the bottom (which includes a magical-feeling pine tree canyon -- almost expect to see Hansel and Gretel peeking out from between the trees).
We skied both the Chuo and Minero sides, with the majority of time spent on the Minero side. Both sides have park features (mostly jumps), with the park on the Minero side being more extensive -- big hit with the kid.
The area as a whole has a reasonable range of trails. Some of the lifts do require hiking or skating to get on.
The two sides have a "Reborn/Ribbon" joint operations campaign going, whereby one can get discounts for repeat visits by becoming a member. One thing that might be nice, to reinforce the joint tie-up aspect, would be if they increased the interconnections between the two halves. This might require developing in the valley between them, though, which perhaps they cannot do.
One thing I was happy to see as a parent was the presence of safety bars on the Hayama #3 Family Lift, even though they are apparently not required on non-detachable lifts such as that one.
The people there are very nice and friendly. Special thanks to the parking-lot circulating bus driver for restarting the bus at the end of the day to take us back to the far lot after we got out a bit late.
All in all a very nice day was had, and I look forward to going back some time when the weather is clearer and checking out the views over the lake. The kid also rated it highly.