Shiga Kogen in Nagano is a winter sports mecca. It is the largest ski and snowboard area in Japan, and probably one of the world’s largest, with 21 different resorts all interlinked with one combined lift ticket. You can ski or snowboard all day hardly hitting the same runs twice. To ski all of the runs would require a few days. There is fantastic variety in terms of terrain, modern facilities and fast lifts. Shiga Kogen has 4 gondolas, 14 quad lifts, 7 triples, 35 doubles and 6 single lifts as well as a useful tram.
Shiga Kogen is a highland area northeast of Nagano City located inside Joshin-Etsu Kogen National Park. If you are not driving, there are shuttle buses from Nagano Station, or you can take the train on the Nagano Dentetsu line to Yudanaka, and switch to a shuttle bus from there (20 minutes).
During the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, Shiga Kogen hosted the women’s downhill, the super Giant slalom, slalom, and all snowboarding events. The snow quality and conditions are usually excellent reflecting higher altitude than many Japanese resorts.
The key to Shiga Kogen is altitude. The various resorts are all at different heights. For example Sun Valley Maruike is at 1400 meters (4600 feet), Kuma-no-Yu at about 1700 meters (5575 feet), and each of Higashi Tateyama, Terakoya, and the excellent Yakibitaiyama are all at about 2000 meters (6550 feet). The highest of the resorts is Yokoteyama at 2300 meters (7550 feet). More than 30% of the runs at Shiga Kogen are black runs (advanced), and another 40% are intermediate, which means that unlike most ski areas in Japan, there is plenty of terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders to explore. These are some of the highest ski areas in all of Japan, and until Spring offer some of the best powder snow outside places such as Niseko or Furano in Hokkaido. If you don’t have the time or budget to fly north, head for this part of Nagano.
Snowboarders can use all of the gelande on offer, but the Kanbayashi area may be the most interesting for those seeking half pipe and other facilities for freestyle. This is the area where the Olympic events were held. The base of the Kanbayashi area is also only a 10 minute or so walk from the Jigokudani snow monkeys, so if you get tired or need a break there is more to do than chill out in the cafeteria etc.
The key advantages of Shiga Kogen is that conditions and snow quality are usually excellent, and the varying altitudes provides an extended season. There are very long runs available (up to 6 kilometers) due to the large vertical drop, and some 80 kilometers of groomed runs in total. Apart from the lift & gondola system there is also a non-stop shuttle bus network that you can use to experience the different areas on offer.
The main disadvantage is cost. Shiga Kogen is a little more expensive to get to, and budget accommodation is difficult to obtain in snow. Tsugaike Kogen is a better option for those on a tight budget.
Disclaimer and Request:
Do you have good photographs or a story to share about this destination? If so, please share it with us, our community and our many visitors. Aichi and Central Japan have so many beautiful places, and culturally and historically important destinations. We hope that as many people as possible can enjoy and experience what it has to offer. Japan Discovery and the weekend field trips visit this destination regularly.
For visitors and independent travelers, please note that opening hours, prices, booking procedures, schedules etc are subject to changes beyond our control. This site is just a guide, and we advise that you always check and confirm in advance.
Also, please note that suggestions, additions and correction of errors are always welcome. Please contact us.