After a decent Tohoku mid-Jan trip last season, I am returning to check off more resorts on my Japan list. I would love to hit Hokkaido but steering clear for now due to covid cases (& getting the OK from work to travel to Iwate/Akita is easier). My group consists of myself (advanced skier who loves off-piste/side country), an upper intermediate boarder (off-piste if not too tight trees), and low intermediate skier (definitely sticking to groomers). We fly Okinawa to Akita Jan 16, rent car, and base at the Shizukuishi Prince Hotel. After 3 ski/board days the friends depart (their endurance limit) while I ski solo 3 more days. My preference is to day-trip to various areas since I love exploring new resorts. Based on research from this forum & other websites, below summarizes my impressions on the areas within a (mostly) reasonable drive. Feedback is greatly appreciated on my questions as well as any other suggestions. Shizukuishi - plan to ski 1st day after arrival (Sunday) and last day (Saturday). Is it smarter to go elsewhere on the weekend, or doesn't matter? Amihari Onsen/Iwate Kogen If doing only one, which one? Tazawako Seems worth the 1 hr drive. Agree? Hachimanti Shimokura Another 1 hour drive. Supposed to be a good storm day option due to exposure. Is drive worth it, or better to do the "other" Amihari/Iwate Kogen area? Ani A a long drive but I definitely want to go since it appears to have a Hokkoda feel to it (enjoyed 2 days there last Jan). Preference would be to go with a guide, but the resort guide I emailed said he is booked to end of February. However, he assured me the lack of foreign skiers means there should be plenty of powder within the resort so a guide isn't really needed. Anyone agree with that assessment?