Shiga Kogen3.5 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
  • Recommend
    86%
  • Would Revisit
    64%
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Epic Nagano Progression

Shiga Kogen Ski Resort Japan
Shiga Kogen Ski Resort Japan
Shiga Kogen has an abundance of intermediate terrain
Shiga Kogen has an abundance of intermediate terrain
An Abundance of Long Groomed Runs
An Abundance of Long Groomed Runs
Ichinose is the largest village of Shiga
Ichinose is the largest village of Shiga
Groomed runs galore
Groomed runs galore
Small Villages
Small Villages
The ski in ski out Okushiga Kogen Hotel
The ski in ski out Okushiga Kogen Hotel
The Shiga snow quality is generally excellent
The Shiga snow quality is generally excellent
Shiga Kogen is the closest resort to the snow monkeys
Shiga Kogen is the closest resort to the snow monkeys
Japanese snow monkey
Japanese snow monkey
Best Japan Ski Resort for Intermediates
Best Japan Ski Resort for Intermediates
Shiga Kogen Japan
Shiga Kogen Japan
Shiga Kogen is at high elevation
Shiga Kogen is at high elevation
Shibutoge Ski Area, Shiga Kogen
Shibutoge Ski Area, Shiga Kogen
More Groomed Trails!
More Groomed Trails!
Shiga Kogen Japan
Shiga Kogen Japan
Ski Shiga Kogen
Ski Shiga Kogen
Shuttle buses travel around the various Shiga Kogen ski areas
Shuttle buses travel around the various Shiga Kogen ski areas
Shiga Kogen
Shiga Kogen
There are many onsens in the area - Okushiga Kogen Hotel onsen
There are many onsens in the area - Okushiga Kogen Hotel onsen

Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen Ski ResortThe Shiga Kogen Resort in Nagano Japan is a good all-rounder as a ski holiday destination. It first gained international notoriety when it hosted various events at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, including the women’s downhill, slalom, super G and snowboarding events. Since that time many other skiers and snowboarders have flocked to the Shiga Kogen ski resorts to get a taste of what this area has to offer.

Shiga Kogen provides a large variety of ski and snowboard terrain, and quality snow because it’s the second highest ski resort in Japan. It’s not called Shiga Heights for nothing (Kogen means heights or highlands)!

Shiga Kogen Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Shiga Kogen is made up of 19 different ski resorts that are largely interlinked via the slopes and a comprehensive lift system that can be accessed off the one lift pass. The ability to explore the many villages on skis or a snowboard feels a little European.

With 980 metres of vertical, approximately 600 hectares of terrain, and 80+ kilometres of trails, Shiga Kogen is cited to be the largest ski area in Honshu (and possibly Japan), although when compared on an international scale, Shiga Kogen would probably be considered a medium sized resort.

Yakebitaiyama and Okushiga Kogen are amongst the largest ski areas within Shiga Kogen, whilst some of the other ski areas are so small that you could blink and miss them.

The extensive network of approximately 68 lifts includes some gondolas and fast quad chairs, as well as some “romance” (ie double) chairs (romance on the chairs is optional!). Eight of the ski areas have a degree of night skiing.

The Shiga Kogen piste terrain is varied and ranges from beginners’ slopes to moguls. Shiga Kogen’s forte is the many kilometres of fresh ‘roys for cruising or schussing. Shiga Kogen is nirvana for intermediates, strong intermediates, and low end advanced riders.

There is some great tree skiing at some of the ski areas, but powder hounds will have to really put their canine nose to work to sniff out the powder discretely because off-piste skiing is banned at most of the ski areas (except Okushiga Kogen). The upside is that you won’t have much competition for the fresh powder. As with most Japanese ski resorts, there’s nothing particularly steep at most of the Shiga Kogen ski areas that will make experts go yabba-dabba-doo.

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Where is Shiga Kogen?

Shiga Kogen is located in the town of Yamanouchi in the Joshinetsu National Park in the Nagano Prefecture, about 50km northeast of Nagano and 250km northwest of Tokyo. The town of Yudanaka (and the adjacent Shibu Onsen) sits at the base of the mountain, with a 14km windy road that leads up to Sun Valley, the first of the Shiga ski areas.

It’s possible to get an airport transfer bus from Tokyo Haneda or Narita Airport to your Shiga Kogen accommodation. Or from Tokyo, take a 1.5 hour bullet train to Nagano, and then a direct bus to Shiga Kogen which takes about 70 minutes.

It’s possible to get around most of the Shiga Kogen ski resorts via the slopes, but a lift pass also provides free access to a shuttle bus system that travels around during the daytime.

Shiga Kogen Accommodation

Shiga Kogen accommodation is spread out around many “villages”. Shiga Kogen has a large variety of hotels, many of which are ski-in ski-out or located very close to the slopes. There are hotels to cater to a range of budgets and styles including washitsu with tatami flooring (Japanese style rooms), semi-Japanese rooms, or yōshitsu (Western rooms). Accommodation packages that include breakfast and dinner are common, in part due to the limited number of restaurants available for evening dining.

The Ichinose village is one of the most popular places to stay because it’s centrally located, and it has a couple of bars and restaurants. Don’t get too excited about the nightlife though – this is not Niseko or Hakuba!

Another popular choice is to stay in the Yakebitaiyama area at the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel. This hotel provides convenient access to the largest and most modern of the Shiga Kogen ski resorts.

Or Okushiga Kogen is a great place to stay considering it has two ski-in ski-out hotels and a ski school offering group lessons in English.

See our Shiga Kogen accommodation overview for more information.

Activities

One of the benefits of a Shiga Kogen ski holiday is that in addition to the skiing and snowboarding, the region offers various off-slope activities. The Jigokudani snow monkeys are not far away from Shiga Kogen. Here you can see the famous Japanese snow monkeys playing and keeping warm in the hot springs. The Shiga Kogen area also has plenty of hot springs (onsens) for humans.

The Zenkoji temple and Matsushiro Kaizu castle in nearby Nagano also make for culturally interesting day trips.

The Difference between Shiga Kogen and Hakuba

Many people can’t choose whether to go to Shiga Kogen or Hakuba on their Japan ski holiday. What’s the difference between the two Nagano ski resorts?

Unlike Hakuba that has some open areas, Shiga Kogen is entirely below the tree line so the visibility is better and it’s a little more protected from the weather. Shiga Kogen is at a higher elevation than Hakuba so the upper ski areas at Shiga Kogen have slopes not slops. The Hakuba ski resorts are not interconnected (except for two) whilst it’s possible to explore most of the Shiga Kogen areas without getting on a shuttle bus. However if you want to go backcountry riding, Hakuba is far superior.

Shiga Kogen hasn’t been invaded by westerners and it has less crowds, but if you don’t want to have to use your phrasebook, Hakuba is better (although Okushiga Kogen caters well to English speaking guests). Also if you are looking for an energetic nightlife and a range of restaurants, head to Hakuba.

Summary of Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Powderhounds.com have bestowed Shiga Kogen with a best skiing in Japan award for the best intermediate terrain.
  • Shiga Kogen also scores 5 out of 5 from us for the ski-in ski-out accommodation.
  • The ski area is very large (by Japanese standards) and provides good on-piste diversity for beginner, intermediate and low end advanced riders.
  • There are group ski lessons in English with the Shiga International Ski School who are based at Okushiga Kogen (there are only several ski resorts in Japan that have group lessons in English).

Cons

  • Hotels are the primary form of accommodation so if you’re looking for self-contained (e.g. apartment or house) or backpacker accommodation, this is not the resort for you.
  • The villages are predominantly a collection of hotels and there aren’t many stand-alone restaurants, bars or shops.
  • The “villages” are very spread out. It’s easy to ski or snowboard between the villages, but it’s more difficult to get around in the evenings.
  • The nightlife is very limited (although this is common to most non-westernised ski resorts in Japan).

Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective

  • Shiga Kogen isn’t over-run with westerners, it feels very Japanese and many of the hotels have the option of Japanese, Western, or semi-Japanese rooms. In many parts of the resort there’s not a lot of English spoken (if any at all).
  • Most of the Shiga Kogen ski areas are very old-fashioned and strictly ban off-piste riding. The upside for those who can appear invisible is that there’s little competition for freshies.
  • Other than skiing and snowboarding, there aren’t that many activities on offer at Shiga Kogen. However Shiga Kogen is the closest ski resort to the snow monkeys and Shibu Onsen, and Nagano is not far away where you can partake in some culturally interesting day trips.

Tours That May Include Shiga Kogen

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Nagano Niigata Explorer DETAILS
HOSTED & GUIDED ROAD TRIP
10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing/Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,797
Book & page deposit by 31st Oct and take AU$200 off the advertised price.
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Based in Myoko Kogen, enjoy Honshu's rich culture and visit up to 8 ski areas including Myoko (5 ski areas), Nozawa Onsen, Kurohime, Shiga Kogen (18 inter-connected ski areas), Madarao, Tangram & a few other secret spots
More
Nagano Snow Tow DETAILS
HOSTED & SELF-GUIDED ADVENTURE
7 Days | 6 Nights | Up to 6 Ski Areas
From price based on dorm-style rooms (2-4 per room).
Base/invoice currency is in Japanese yen not including consumption tax 8%.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 1,496
Book and pay deposit prior to C.O.B. November 30, 2016 and get 14.7% off the advertised price.
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Take the hassle out of organising your powder adventure to Nagano & Niigata (Honshu Japan) next season by joining one of these great unguided tours. You still have the freedom to do your own thing at the ski areas but all of the logistics are taken care of.
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Shiga Kogen here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Epic Honshu Buffet (Skiers Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SKI ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder skiing where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional ryokan (Japanese hotel) and food, and you have the perfect Japanese ski adventure!
More
Epic Honshu Ski & Snowboard Progression DETAILS
SKI & SNOWBOARD GUIDED INSTRUCTION
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Skiing | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
EARLY BIRD: Book before Sept 30 and get 5% off displayed price
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced
Learn to ski and ride deep powder with more confidence whilst checking out some of Honshu's ski areas away from the masses of foreigners. Outside the skiing and snowboarding, experience an area rich in culture and history.
More
Epic Honshu Buffet (Snowboarders Only) DETAILS
GUIDED SNOWBOARDING ADVENTURE
10 Days | 9 Night | 8 Riding | Up to 8 Ski Areas
From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,631
Book before Sept 30 and get free avi gear rental & 5% off displayed price
Ability: Advanced, Expert
Combine deep untracked powder riding where few foreigners go, with a rich Japanese cultural experience, a traditional hotel and food, and you have the perfect Japanese snowboarding adventure!
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Shiga Kogen here
Backcountry Skiing Tours
Hakuba Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from HAKUBA
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on Hakuba day tour, group of 5 (price displayed is per person however full tour price is 5 X that price).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 607 USD 607
10% discount for tours Feb 12-18 & during March
10% off tours Feb 12-18 and during March
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you are in the HAKUBA area, you can't go past a day or more of a guided ski or snowboarding adventure. The area (and also other nearby resorts) is huge and the best skiing is actually outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accesses with a guide. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
More
Myoko Guided Day Tours DETAILS
GUIDED DAY TOURS from MYOKO
For PRIVATE GROUPS of up to 5 people
From price based on a Myoko day tour, group of 5 (price displayed is per person however full tour price is 5 X that price).
Base/invoice currency is in JPY inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 121
Ability: Intermediate, Strong Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
If you are in the MYOKO area, you can't go past a day or more of guided skiing or snowboarding. The area (and also other nearby resorts) is huge & some of the best skiing is outside of the resort boundaries which should only be accessed with a guide. Tours are for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY of up to 5 guests.
More
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Shiga Kogen here