Located east of Nagano city, about the same distance that Hakuba is located west of Nagano city, Shiga Kogen is a large complex of 22 mostly interlinked ski areas, with more than 120 lifts. It is unique compared to most resorts around Nagano prefecture, as you have to drive up to the resort area (similar to Victorian snowfields in Australia). As a consequence, the resorts are at a higher altitude with lighter and drier snow than anywhere else in the region. As one of the highest ski resorts in Japan – (‘Kogen’ means heights or highlands in Japanese) and its excellent quality of snow, Shiga Kogen is certainly a popular spot for visitors just don’t expect much of a night life.
‘Shiga Kogen is a large resort with something to offer everyone. It’s not only the highest resort in Japan but the largest resort in Honshu.’
Check out Shiga Kogen for a great ‘all round’ ski destination. The area gained international notoriety from hosting several downhill events in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Shiga recieves quality snowfall, unsurprising given that it is the highest resort in Japan. It boasts 980 metres of vertical, approximately 600 hectares of terrain, and over 80 kilometres of trails. In fact it has been said to be the largest resort in Honshu, and possibly the whole of Japan.
SHIGA KOGEN STATS
Season: November – May
Terrain: Beginner 30%, Intermediate 40%, Advanced 30%
Lift system: 120+ lifts across 22 resorts
Longest run: 6km
Average Snowfall: 8m+
Terrain Parks: Half pipe
Choosing where to stay in Shiga can be hard as the hotels and small villages are quite spread out. See below map to help you get a better idea of where the hotels are located.
The beauty of Shiga is there is a huge amount of terrain that’ll keep you busy for a long time. Some of the slopes are connected whilst to access others you’ll have to use the resort shuttle. This runs regularly so makes getting around the areas easy.
When choosing where to stay be aware that some hotels are quite isolated so you’ll need to eat dinner in hotel. If you prefer to have a few outside options then the small yet charming Ichinose Village is your best option.
***Check back soon, we’re working on adding the resort map***
Got more than a week? If so we recommend visiting a few resorts to make the most of your time in Nagano-Niigata. Depending on the resort we would recommend anywhere from 3 nights to a week. The below resorts are all within a few hours of Shiga Kogen which makes it easy to transfer between the two without losing any on snow time.
If you’d like a rest day then have a look at our ‘NEARBY ATTRACTIONS’ tab as the Snow Monkeys and/or Shibu Onsen would make a great cultural day between resorts. If you decide to do this the easiest way is with your own rental car or a private transfer whose driver will wait for you at each stop. Get in touch with us and we can help you set up the perfect multi-resort package with a day trip / transfer day.
Resorts near Shiga-Kogen:
- Nozawa Onsen
- Myoko Kogen
All resorts are about 2 1/4 ~ 2 1/2 hrs drive with Nagano Snow Shuttle Inter-Resort Transfer. See ‘GETTING THERE’ tab for more information on travel to/from Tokyo and Shiga Kogen.
There’s plenty of unique Japanese experiences to be had in the Shiga Kogen area that will add a unique twist to your snow holiday. Enjoy the below activities on one of your rest days or as a pre/post snow activity. There’s a good public transport network in the Shiga Kogen area, however, if you want more freedom to explore all the ski areas and the below then we highly suggest hiring a car. If you do this make sure to have an international drivers licence as you won’t be able to hire/drive without one.
Visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
Most people have seen or heard of the unique snow monkeys of Jigokudani before, in fact they’re so famous many people spend the whole day on a bus from Tokyo just to see them bathing in an onsen! We think they’re pretty unique and special and worth the visit, however, we recommend enjoying the nearby town (Shibu Onsen) and Shiga Kogen Ski Resort to make your trip a truly special Japanese experience.
It is here where the Japanese macaque (snow monkeys) inhabit providing a unique day trip experience. When you arrive at the bus stop you will then walk through the beautiful forest (10-25 mins depending on route chosen) before arriving at the onsen area where there are often many monkeys coming and going.
Visit or stay in Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen is a traditional Japanese onsen village dating back to 1303 (originally named Hirao Onsen). Over the years the village was popular for priests from Kyoto, battle weary soldiers and samurai due to the healing powers of onsen water. You will be transported back in time and have a very unique experience here with some of the hotels having 400 year + histories. For those of you that have visited and enjoyed Nozawa Onsen this will be a great town for your next trip!
Shibu Onsen Highlights:
- Beautiful traditional accommodations
- Traditional Japanese bath houses – there are nine – free for those staying in town, accessible for day visitors with a fee
- Breweries to try local sake and beer
- Local crafts including lots of pottery
- Delicious Japanese food (not many western options in town)
- Buses run from Nagano St and Yudanaka St to the Jigokudani Monkey Park (about 40 and 10 minutes respectively).
- The closest train station to Shibu Onsen is Yudanaka (abut 45 mins from Nagano St / 2km from Shibu Onsen).
- Nagaden Bus Company run a local line between Shiga Kogen and Shibu Onsen, this is great for day trips or those transferring between two accommodations. Whiteroom will also be happy to help arrange a private transfer if you’d prefer to pre-book.
Keen to visit!? Get in touch with Whiteroom and we can help you plan your Shiga Kogen and surrounds adventure.
Train & bus
- You will need to take the bullet train to Nagano St, from there the local line to Yudanaka St and from there a local bus.
- About 4hrs from Tokyo St – be careful to plan your route in advance so as to have the best connections possible.
Nagano Snow Shuttle
- Direct services from Haneda and Narita Airports to Shiga Kogen and return daily.
- On your return you can get off in Shinjuku (Tokyo Central) or return to either Airport.
- Be sure to check with your consultant if the bus timetable lines up well with your flight.
- About 6hrs.
Share Taxi Transfer
- This is a great option for those whose flights don’t line up well with the Nagano Snow Shuttle. You are transferred in a mini-van with others going to the Nagano-Niigata resorts who have arrived on the same flight or at a similar time.
- About 6hrs.
- For the bus and share taxi transfer you may have to change vehicles at Nagano St.
- See www.hyperdia.com for train timetables and best routes.
Whiteroom recommends: taking the bus or share taxi transfer if you have a lot of luggage or if this is your first time in Japan. Although the train and bus is quicker it can be hard to navigate with big ski/snowboard bags. On top of this it can be a little overwhelming if it’s your first time in Japan. If you’re up for an adventure the train and bus is a great option and the public transport staff in Japan are very kind and willing to help where needed. Your consultant will also make sure you have all the required journey information and timetables in advance.