Niigata prefecture has a number of popular resorts for skiing and relaxing at spas. Transportation to and from these places is either by train, car, or both.
I've heard the best places for skiing are at Naeba, Akakura, Kaguramistumata.
However, I've only been to Tainai and Ishiuchi.
Equipment: It is better to buy your ski clothing at a department store. If you rent them, they'll either be expensive or of poor quality. (i.e. My friends rented some junky gloves for 1000 yen a pare. Mine were of a much higher quality and only cost me 900 yen at Josco.)
Skis, poles, and boots can be rented for somewhat reasonable prices at a number of ski resorts.
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