Minowa Snow Resort is located in the snowy mountains of Fukushima. Specifically, in the town of Inawashiro near the third largest lake in Japan. Inawashiro Town has several well known ski resorts, but Minowa Snow Resort is a little further off the beaten path where there are less crowds but the same ideal weather.
While other resorts in the area boast extensive courses and lifts, they also attract the biggest crowds. Minowa Snow Resort offers a smaller, more cozy atmosphere. A majority of their courses are marked as beginner slopes, with a few intermediate courses and two advanced courses.
As someone who has personally sought out beginner slopes in the area for my friends starting out, I highly recommend this resort for beginners. While some beginner slopes at other resorts can end up being too flat or too crowded, Minowa resort offers a variety of gentle slopes with different degrees of steepness, and helpful snowboarding and ski instructors if you need an extra hand.
There are four lifts that start off at the bottom and branch out further up the mountains. The nice thing about this resort is that the beginner slopes are accessible from anywhere on the mountain. There are even beginner slopes that start up at the very top!
For those of you who are more advanced, they still have lots to offer in the way of keeping you from being bored. Their intermediate courses vary from windy to steep and best of all, it isn't crowded. There are also poles and jumps set up on the lower courses, which I found entertaining to work with.
While I can't speak for all the food on the menu, my friends and I were impressed by the curry and pork cutlet. The food is also reasonably priced considering it is at a ski resort. As for lift tickets, you can purchase a full day lift ticket for 4,500 yen (2,900 yen for children), or 3,600 yen for a half day ticket. The lifts are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm everyday. A shuttle bus is available from Fukushima Station five times a day or Inawashiro Station twice a day.
If you are itching to put in another day of skiing or snowboarding, I highly recommend Hotel De Preimere Minowa - which sits right on the slopes. I have stayed in several resort hotels on ski slopes in the past, but this is probably one of my favorites. It was classy, clean, with a large indoor and outdoor hot spring bath, and within a few steps of one of the lifts.