I can't say enough good things about Niseko United, and specifically the Annupuri side. I've been riding in Japan for three seasons and I've never experienced anything quite like this. We spent a half a day on the Grand Hirafu side and then went over to Annupuri and never looked back.
Grand Hirafu was slightly crowded; not terrible, for the time of year, but crowded nonetheless. Annupuri was basically empty. No wait time for the lifts, no congestion on the runs,
I've been to APPI five, maybe six times now and I'll probably be back.
Some big time pros for APPI are:
Open early, open late. The last couple of seasons have been a little hit or miss, especially early season. APPI was one of the only places open when I started the season in mid December last year, and they tend to have good snowfall even when smaller resorts are hurting.
Large selection of courses. APPI has a little bit of everything.
We had a bad season last year, in terms of snowfall... Rain, well into December, even on some of the bigger mountains. Overall very bad stuff. Our first half of the day we were on the Panorama side and the snow conditions were pretty bad... Slushy, thin, very thin, rocks visible in a lot of places. About lunchtime we decided to go see what the Shimokura side had to offer and we were not disappointed.
Hakkoda isn't known for it's groomed runs, and they are pretty forgettable. Unfortunately the top of the mountain wasn't open as we don't have nearly enough snow yet, but considering there was nowhere else to go I was more than happy to ride the two runs that were open all day!
Price was good, since it was early season, we paid ¥2700 per person and rode all day... Snow conditions were, as I said, OK but not great. Lodge was nice,
This resort was a comparatively long haul for us, but I had high hopes and I was, for the most part, not disappointed.
Due to the long drive, we didn't get there until nearly 11 AM, but we were able to quickly purchase lift tickets (which, at 4700 yen with lunch included, were a reasonable price for the resort) and get on the large, mass transit gondola. It took us a good amount of time to get from the bottom
We knew heading out we were taking a risk with the snow conditions, since it had been a warm, snowless week, but we decided to give Makado a shot anyway due to its extremely close proximity to us (45 minutes!).
On arrival, the snow was about how I expected it to be, very icy and with minimal coverage. Not great for beginners, but still rideable.
The lodge is big, much bigger than I think a mountain this size probably needs, and had
We started coming here in early December of 13', not long after the resort opened. It's very conveniently located for us so it was an obvious choice.
It has a very wide, very accommodating beginner hill that was a great starter spot for my wife and I, with my only complaint being that heavy traffic on this hill can leave the snow conditions less than desirable for beginners. Especially early season the bunny hill feels more like concrete than snow about
Excellent conditions, beautiful mountain and exciting intermediate runs.
We did a trip for the day and drove out from the Misawa-shi area (about 2 1/2 hours) and it was well worth the trip. The slopes were not crowded, very well maintained and just the right challenge level for my wife and I (we're not beginners but not experts, either).
I was particularly fond of the intermediate run that dead ended at Mos Burger. It was great to be able to ride straight down and have a burger and a