I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Niseko.
It’s a short flight to Sapporo from Tokyo then a bus to the visitor centre, or a train into Kutchan. I recommend taking the bus as Kutchan is still a ways from the hill and if you’ve got luggage you’ll want a taxi and taxis in JP are very expensive!
I arrived early January and was there for a couple of months before heading south to Nagano. While I was in Niseko the snow was always pretty good, you could find powder stashes if you worked hard enough. We had a few soggy warm days, but then another storm cell would hit and it’d be back to powder heaven.
The resort is split into 4 areas. Hirafu and Hanozono are my pick, they seem to have the cheapest tickets and access to some pretty decent side country. They each have a terrain park and Hanozono had a bag jump while I was there.
Food wise, there’s some great options around the Hirafu section of town, not so much decently priced food on the hill though, avoid the big centre at the bottom of Hanozono if you’re budget conscious. The little cafe near the lift on the other hand is pretty bloody good! The little dumpling things are pretty cheap and semi filling and the coffee is alright (by JP standards!)
The nightlife is good fun, booze isn’t the cheapest in the pubs, but is amazingly cheap at the Seicomart/Lawsons (both 7/11 style convenience stores or conbini’s). If you’re on a budget hit these guys first for a bit of a pre-game. Barunba does a killer cocktail called Bruce Willis, I think some days it’s the sole reason that the gondola line is 30 mins long instead of 2hrs. Very hard to move the next day if you over-indulge.
All in all, I highly recommend Niseko to all levels of riders/skiers, families, couples, singles. It’s quite easy to find the cheaper accommodation if you look for it.
I recommend trying the onsens, a trip to JP isn’t complete until you’ve had a traditional onsen (hard to get in Niseko, but go anyway).
And don’t walk past the Lawsons fried chicken! KFC has nothing on Lawsons!