From the emails we are answering at the moment, it seems that a good number of people who have holidays in early December, are heading to Japan, and would like to have a quick ski trip, or a chance to experience the snow.
So what are your options if you are one of these people? The amount of snow in early December varies year to year. Snow Japan is a great information resource, and has records from their daily reports going back to 2005, so if you are interested you can check out the time of year you are interested in from previous seasons. Check out the bottom of the Yuzawa Now daily reports for that.
Kagura Ski Resort is the first resort to open around here and is planning on opening some slopes on November 19th this season. They can operate without snow as they have a plastic snow mat on one slope that can be skied on. Keep an eye on their Live Cameras to see if the snow is covering the slopes there as your trip approaches. It wouldn't be your first choice as a beginner if all resorts in the area were open, but if it is the only one, it is the earliest place to go to with snow and will work for a fun day out. Ask us if you have questions, and always feel free to check in closer to the start of the season and we can let you know how the weather and temperatures are here in Yuzawa.
Last year we had a very warm start to the winter and several resort had to delay their planned opening dates. As a result, to find the snow for some of our earlier visitors, we were heading up to Okutadami Maruyama. It is a small ski resort up by Koide that only opens in early and late winter. It's accessed by kilometres of tunnels so is quite an experience to get to, but does usually get early snow. Okutadami Maruyama Ski Resort is planning to open on 26th November so could also be an option if the snow is not good at Kagura, and if you don't mind a bit more travel time. (If you are coming up by shinkansen, Urasa Station on the Joetsu Bullet Train Line would be the closest station.)
Other resorts like Maiko Snow Resort, Tashiro Ski Area, and Naeba Ski Resort are planning to open on December 10th. If everywhere gets enough snow to open, there should be plenty of choices from that date onwards. Fingers crossed for lots of early snow.
We've also been known to head out to other resorts if the snow is better somewhere else. The Prince Hotel run Karuizawa Ski Resort is usually open in November and seems to be a popular choice for some families due to the outlet shopping there. Nozawa Onsen often opens the top of their resort in early December and is quick drive over the hill for our instructors. If you are heading further north we have an instructor based at Zao if you need ski or snowboard lessons there, and also have people up in Hokkaido - http://www.snowcountry-instructors-hokkaido.com