For a relatively small resort Houdaigi has lots to offer in terms of terrain, length of runs and snow quality. The majority of the mountain is geared towards beginners and intermediates with some nice long runs by Japan standards. That said, there are some steeps up top with very fun tree and off-piste sections.
The views from the top of Lift 9 are amazing on a bluebird day which I had the pleasure of experiencing.
Unfortunately it rained the next two days forcing me to find other activities. There is no apres ski in this area but if you like onsen there are some excellent ones at Minakami and Tanigawa which is about 30 minutes away depending on the road conditions. Driving can get nasty when it snows here as the roads are windy, narrow and occasionally not in great condition.
The snow finally arrived and when it snows in Minakami it dumps. Perhaps not of the same high quality as Hokkaido it is not far off and we had knee-deep+ powder and perhaps deeper on the higher runs. Houdaigi is at is best with powder and given its proximity to Tokyo this mountain is a real treat when one does not have the time for a longer trip elsewhere. From Tokyo Station to Jomo Kogen on the Shinkansen it takes about 75 minutes. Another 30 minutes or so by car and you are at the lifts.
Due to this proximity the weekends can get crowded which I suspect the mountain may not be able to handle so well. During mid-week, however, it is virtually empty and awesome when the conditions cooperate.
From 26 January, 2015 To 30 January, 2015
Snow condition on visit:
A wild week of weather with packed powder, slush, knee-deep+ powder.
Things I liked:
No crowds at least during mid-week, quality of snow and some decent terrain. Houdaigi has the feel of a locals' mountain and one knows they are in Japan which I liked. For a clean-living few days of boarding, onsen, decent food and sleep this is the place.
Things I didn't like:
I was neither looking for nor expecting apres-ski but for someone who might be they should understand there is nothing but onsen.