Shiga Kogen - Reviews

Awesome for Intermediates

POWDERHOUNDS.COM
09/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January
Shiga Kogen has some fabulous strong points. Firstly it’s great for intermediate riders who want a good range of cruisers to cruise on. Unlike most other Japanese ski resorts that are very small, it offers lots of long groomed runs that head between the villages. Snow quality is also usually a huge pro.

Shiga Kogen hasn’t been over-run with westerners, possibly because it’s overlooked for its reputation for having no nightlife and a ban on off-piste skiing. Well there is a little bit of nightlife but keep your expectations low, and whilst off-piste skiing is not officially permitted at many of the ski areas, it is possible with discretion. And you won’t have much competition for the fresh powder.

Shiga Kogen is rather Japanese. Some of the hotels have staff that speak English, but there are lots of areas where only Japanese is spoken. Many parts of Shiga Kogen are sooo old fashioned in many ways. You notice lots of silly rules or opening times of establishments that are quite laughable! It’s easy to see why some parts of Shiga Kogen are going out of business.

See our Shiga Kogen overview page for more on our thoughts on the pros and cons. Also see our Japan ski resort ratings to see how we compare Shiga Kogen to other resorts.

Where the Gold Is

Jason
29/06/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
I have skied all the main resorts on both Hokkaido and Honshu over the past six years plus many of the smaller resorts that don't get mention. Shiga Kogen in my opinion ticks all the boxes.

Resorts without westerners, powder runs even if it has not snowed for 4 or 5 days, great lift infrustructure, lifts that go to over 2000 metres so when others are getting rained on the POW is still in abundance and true cultural experiences that will leave you with an authentic Japanese ski vacation. If you are a beginner or expert you will not be disappointed with this area.

Good powder, short runs, cultured

Damian
24/03/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    18-35
OVERALL: Would definitely visit again but it would only be a max of 7 days in a trip that would later involve visiting other resorts.

PROS: In late-February to late-March 2015 I had 3 great powder days (>30cm). Runs are quite varied, ranging from beginner to intermediate to moguls to cat trails. A good shuttle bus that runs frequently and accommodates skiers. Restaurants were moderately priced and provided adequate variety (but don't expect an exquisite dining experience on the mountain). The mountain is interlinked by a decent lift system for the most part. While my primary purpose was snowboarding, Japanese culture was immersive turned out to be a great aspect of the trip as I was forced to learn phrases in another language, adopt a new culture - felt great to truly get away from home. Was uncrowded even on "busy" days through Spring (not sure about peak winter season).

CONS: Runs were really short; even from the top at Yakebitaiyama it only took around 5-7 minutes on an uninterrupted run. No runs are really steep as their "black runs" were more like reds or blues. Even though lifts interlink the mountain, traversing across involved riding for 25% and lifts for 75% of the time. Most lifts were dated and slow. Spring can cause freeze-thaw conditions making brick hard icy conditions on some days. I stayed at Sunvalley - night life was literally non existent except for the small bar next door. Also, other services shut at 6-7pm! And the lack of convenience stores nearby means no bread, milk etc... only biscuits, instant noodles, Japanese drinks and ice-creams within small shops in hotels.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Yakebitayama (especially Gondola 1), Ichinose, Terakoya (particularly the cat trail from the top), Giant black run for a "steep" run, Sunvalley for moguls

Shiga Kogen or "Shiga Heights"

Andrew
01/08/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    51-70
Normally I am a Niseko skier, but decided to try Honshu this time, and we were based in Nozawa Onsen with a large group. But I was looking for a change from the family friendly Nozawa, and looking for some fun terrain, so I booked local guide Kaz Sekiya (Ski Nagano) for the day who took me on a bit of an adventure around Shiga Kogen.

Shiga Kogen delivered in spades, there is plenty of fun slopes to keep skiers of all levels entertained for the day, including runs that featured at the Nagano Olympics.

We had all the elements that make skiing memorable, 50cm of snow falling as we skied, and almost non existent crowds! Kaz found me a few of the powder stashes around the mountain, so I tried to make the most of this gift. Being the highest resort in Japan the snow seems to stay nice a fresh all day.

I would definitely recommend Shiga Kogen as good starting point for your ski safari around the Nagano area.

Loved It

Alex Martin
21/01/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    18-35
I found many reviews misleading on Shiga Kogen, in particular thoughts on terrain and snow quality. I went to Shiga at the start of January 2014, and was mesmorised by the quality of the resorts. Many reports stated that it lacked off-piste skiing, but in the 12 days I spent there, I found you just had to know where to look. Some of the sub-resorts only have groomed trails, yet areas like Yakebitaiyama have powder runs with only a couple of tracks in them by lunch time. The snow here was also exceptional compared to other Honshu resorts, more fine and light.

Another great thing about Shiga Kogen is that each resort has its own character, however, this being said, it is very difficult to navigate around each resort, and I'd much rather ski than wait for a shuttle bus.

The best in Honshu?

Dan
02/12/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
I've been living in Japan for years now and skiing here for just as long. I go to shiga kogen yearly, actually several times a year simply because its hands down the best there is (that I have found on Honshu). I can't compare it Niseko because its quite a haul and while I'm dieing to go, haven't been able to make it yet.

I CAN compare it to Hakuba though. Hakuba was pretty much nothing in comparison to shiga...

We'll start with size, Hakuba is not interconnected, there are a few resorts that are like goryu and 47 but even with that shigas size is incomparible. Shiga is MASSIVE and cannot truely be skied in a day.

Next I'll talk about snow condition, now I don't have too much experience at Hakuba so ill be a little less aggressive on this but when I was there the snow at Hakuba wasn't that great... I have yet to go to shiga and have anything less than a "4 out of 5" (often 5/5) in season of course. I haven't been to either places earlier than the end of December (25~) or later than mid February.

Next I'll talk about crowds, as I mentioned earlier the crowds at shiga don't really show because its so huge. The only time I've seen bad waits is at gondola 1 in the morning, but that is the biggest gondola and fastest, so the line looked big but we didn't wait more than 5 minutes. As for the piste, shiga wins over Hakuba.

I don't go skiing for nightlife and never go alone so I can't comment on that. But I "hear" Hakuba has great nightlife.

Shiga Kogan

Meredith
27/04/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
I visited Shiga Kogan with friends in Jan 2013. Of the 5 of us, 4 of us are intermediate/advanced skiers, and the 5th was a complete beginner.

The ski area is huge - the mountains are interlinked, most you can ski to, some require a short (<5 min) walk. The snow was fantastic - we had fresh powder to ski on 6 out of 7 days. The runs were great, mostly wide and lots of intermediate terrain. We found some great powder runs that were virtually empty the entire morning. Almost no lift queues, except when we found the school ski groups, which was also the only time the runs were crowded, but they are fairly easy to avoid if you are an intermediate or better skier/boarder.

Shiga Kogan has virtually no night life, and limited options for eating out. Transport at night is also a bit difficult (there is a ski shuttle, but it only runs during the day). Our hotel provided dinner as well as breakfast, and while this looked like an expensive option, it saved us money and a lot of time and stuffing around. Ski hire was fairly limited also (not helped by none of our group speaking Japanese).

Lessons in English were only available as private lessons - there are no group lessons in English anywhere on the mountain, so it is expensive if you need lessons.

I would recommend this for intermediate or better skiers or boarders who are going for the snow and the runs, and not the apres ski. It is the best snow I've had in more than 10 ski trips (incl Japan and Europe), the runs were good, mostly intermediate with some steeper stuff here and there, and there was heaps of terrain to explore. We skied for 7 days, and covered just over half the skiable area. For beginners who need lessons, it would be an expensive way of doing it. I am definitely coming back here!

Over rated Shiga

Brad Chadwick
09/02/2013
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    36-50
Very crowded at times - especially the thousands of ski school students.

Expensive by Japanese standards and absolutely no night life of any value. You are pretty much stuck in a hotel environment for your entire stay.

Exceptional Shiga Kogen

Philip
17/06/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Intermediate
  • Rider Age
    18-35
After recently getting into Skiing it was suggested that I should Ski Shiga Kogen Japan. We skied Shiga in Feb 2012. In the week leading up to our trip there had been over 2m of fresh powder so spirits were very high. I was a little unsure about my choice in skiing Shiga after reading reviews about the resort. However after arriving at Prince Hotel East Wing and seeing the slopes I realised how good my decision was.

The weather was not the greatest when we got there, it rained on the 2nd day which made for some average conditions for the next 2 days. The snow started to really pile up towards he end of the week, by the final day we were skiing in knee + deep powder.

The Piste trails were fantastic, there is plenty of variety in runs and more than enough to keep you entertained for a week. Perhaps the only thing lacking in terms of Piste trails was a few more steeper and challenging Black runs (that were not covered in moguls). Off Piste skiing was some-what limited as most areas of the resorts were not open to people skiing off piste. However to those who were open to exploring there was plenty of off piste skiing to keep experienced skier's entertained. It doesn't have the back country options that Niseko has. The crowds at Shiga were very minimal and on a week day it was quite common to be skiing a run without any other people.

Definitely recommend Shiga Kogen to those wanting to experience skiing in Japan. Breath taking views, countless runs, great snow and powder. I'll be back to ski Shiga Kogen again. 

Great Holiday

ben
29/04/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
My father and I travelled to Shiga Kogen early February. We had never done any skiing outside of Australia and had heard amazing things about Japan so we booked a ten day trip. The skiing was unbelievable, fresh powder every morning to wake up to and sometimes throughout the day as well.

There was an abundance of runs to choose from (we definitely didn't do them all in the time we had), mostly for intermediates though. Most of the runs were groomed, so finding fresh powder was sometimes a little tricky, however when we did it was knee deep and well worth the search.

From what I've experienced at Shiga and from what I've heard about other Japanese resorts, it's still very Japanese, and not much English is spoken however communication wasn't an issue as the Japanese are so polite and willing to help.

The only negatives about the resort is that for advanced or expert skiers/boarders, there's not many runs that will get your pulses pumping, also skiing off-piste is forbidden. If you're looking for a resort where you can have a big night out, this isn't it. The nightlife is extremely limited. The last shuttle bus runs through the main restaurant/bar village at 7.40, so if you don't get on it and you're staying elsewhere, you've got a long walk in freezing temperatures.

I would definitely recommend Shiga, especially for people who want to experience a bit of Japanese culture along with great snow, however I would visit other Japanese resorts before I would go back.
[1] 2 >