Newby lurker chiming in.. I've also been having a good trawl over the last year through the japanese sites (thumbs up to google chrome translate!) with plans to possibly get a family and friends place around the iiyama/nozawa/shiga kogen/ryuoo zone. Given all the points above, I've come to the same conclusion as LMB: a managed condo is the way to go if you want minimal headaches and maximum pow time. Sure you don't get to live the romantic scenes of waking up in a timber chalet surrounded by white. Nor do you get the convenience of ski in - ski out. But lets face it, the majority of us who aren't in Japan running a snow business want a place you can roll up to, set up easily, access services, pack up easily and pull the door to when you leave. The money spent on strata fees etc for an apartment is more than worth it in return for convenience. Most of them provide a car space as well. I've done enough snow clearing whilst staying at a friends place to know that I wouldn't want to be doing it every day for months on end. Its like having to mow the lawn every day! I've witnessed the tropical version where I live in Sumatra where expats roll up wanting to live the dream, buy a piece of land, go through the mission of acquiring timber and building a place, deal with local tradesman, get ripped off, deal with (sea) transport issues in all types of weather, visa hassles, etc, etc. Very similar scenario just in warmer weather! Anyway, great thread and great forum. Thanks to all.