If there's no foreigners in January, it will not be super busy in February because it's no longer school holidays in Australia, so accommodation will not be on the expensive end.Some good tips as always Sandy thanks.
Forgetting borders and Covid, Neiseko would be just ‘a’ possibility, to consider if a friend keen on Hokkaido came along (it’s hard planning for oneself!)
I’ve looked at both areas via usual engines;
Neiseko seems to have a lot more choices of bedding - particular if one had a car and was prepared to drive for a few kms 3,5, maybe 10?). I haven’t checked bus routes from these outlying areas.
They look frankly are bit more sociable in a lovely Japanese way - not boosie Aussie! A little like some of the Canadian Rockies youth hostels I stayed in, 88/89.
I’ve looked through a few of the usual Ichinose locations. Many of them could work. If I end up on my own, then it’s fairly simple, although I didn’t do the Futon-Tatami experience at Hakuba - that would be new.
There’s a few pensions in Okushiga that look fairly nice - they climb into to $150+ p.night from memory. Plus food. (May be cheaper than eating at the hotel?).
The Okushiga Hotel looks nice enough but with will be over $200 p.n, $230 with breakfast, $280 ish with dinner, so it adds up. Would be nearly $400 p.d with a pass and lunches/ beverages.
Another factor: the later the borders / flights open, the fewer the accommodation choices and they’ll mostly be the dear end? Flights might soon get easier?
Anyway, I’m not panicking, it’s early (ish) days. As you say, a lot of bedding options only start 3 month out, so late Feb, will keep a while.
Naeba/Kagura is an interesting option - another friend liked Kagura. It appears there’s some open country higher up which appeals after the tight trees of Hakuba. I’ll check bed options there too. Senior tickets a bonus too! Cheers.
If you want more "youth hostel" digs, you will end up with Japanese "minshuku" a small tatami room with futon, shared toilets and onsen only.
If you DO go to Niseko + a car, check out Niseko OAC lodge.... with a car, it's not the cheapest option for one person though.
There's some great bowls at the top of Kagura, and it's linked by a 5km gondola to Naeba. Kagura gets at least 50% more powder than Naeba, and it's not crowded on a week day. Back in 2019, there were huge numbers of Chinese at the Naeba Prince Hotel (a big ski in ski out 600 bed hotel complex, lockers 30m inside the door for skis & gear) ..... but 95% of them stuck to beginner & easy intermediate slopes.... you could ski powder lines 300m right out the front of the hotel!!!
Photos from my room at the Naeba Prince!!!! Mostly tracked out by night skiing time, but right in the middle, my group made ALL of those tracks after lunch!!!
By the way, this would be a GREAT opening for the OP. @Wozzz
Super easy to get to, LOADS of beginner slopes right out the front of the Naeba Prince Hotel, English speaking lessons, and if the beginners get tired, they can just go back to the room and sleep for a while!!
Unlike the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel(s), the Naeba Prince has a lot of restaurants (and a walk into the village/town has more.... if you don't want to pay for the exy Prince breakfast, walk into the town and get some food for breakfast... fruit, cereal, milk, plastic bowls & spoons)
In fact, I'd say that the Naeba Prince is the IDEAL option for @Wozzz . You can leave the beginners for a while, head near the top on the gondola, ride the wide ungroomed powder run, and meet the beginners on your way down to the bottom.