Mikawa has the least snow of any of the Kaetsu areas. You will want to go on a day when there has been overnight new snow and temperatures on the day of no more than 3°C. Wait until mid-season to go to Mikawa as they get so little snow these days, their opening is delayed
Budoh gets more snow than the other ski areas in Kaetsu (north Niigata), so when the other areas might be struggling to open (like Mikawa), Budoh is likely to be up and running. Budoh also faces away from the prevailing winter winds, so when Wakabuna (and maybe the others) are blown out, you can enjoy calm conditions. The food in the dining room is good and inexpensive. They have a Japanese-pickles all-you-can-eat bar of homemade tsukemono (Japanese pickles)
Wakabuna Kogen Ski Area is the coldest of the Kaetsu (north Niigata) ski resorts, so the snow conditions will usually be better there than at the other locations – especially on warmer days. Wakabuna's weak point is that it faces the prevailing winter winds and a venturi develops as the wind comes up the Sekikawa valley. When wind gusts exceed 5 or 6m, No. 1 pair lift often does not operate – basically shutting down half the courses. Wakabuna is a
Suginohara has long runs (especially good for boarders apparently, since they don't have to buckle and unbuckle as much) and cold snow conditions. The gondola is expensive so buy a day ticket or 4-hour ticket (which I did) rather than the individual tickets for each lift. Look online at their website for deals on lift tickets with meals or drinks, etc. They might be slightly better. Lovely views (on a sunny day) of the Northern Alps in the distance and
I noticed that the last review was from before the tsunami and nuclear accident. Don't stay away from Fukushima ski areas; they can be brilliant.
The slopes are well groomed and when the weather is nice (as on Friday the 6th), the scenery is beyond beautiful all the way down – Mt. Bandai towering over the ski area and the Aizu valley and Lake Inawashiro at your feet.... great!
The food in the restaurants is a little pricey, but not for
This is a great place to come to if you are in the Niigata area or west coast area of Yamagata. On weekdays, you might have the whole place to yourself. There are no "play areas" with jumps etc. for boarders or trick skiers, but for the intermediate skier, it's got plenty to keep you amused. It's on the backside of the mountains that face the Japan Sea, so when Mikawa, Ninox, Tainai and Wakabuna (other Kaetsu areas) are blown