The Ichinose village is centrally located so it’s easy to access various ski areas. Ichinose is good for nervous beginners because the green terrain is mellower than at some of the other areas. This village has the most restaurants, izakayas and bars, but don’t get too excited as this is just relative to some of the other villages that have zip nightlife. Ichinose also has good access to facilities such as ski hire and ski school (private lessons only).
The Okushiga Kogen village is very good if you’re after a quiet relaxed holiday or want very easy access to group ski and snowboard lessons in English with the Shiga International Ski School
. The Okushiga Kogen ski area
is particularly great for those wanting to explore off-piste. Okushigakogen is the furthermost ski area of northeast Shiga Kogen, so access to the other ski areas takes more time. Okushiga Kogen has a handful of restaurants to choose from for evening dining.
Other Shiga Kogen Accommodation Options
The town of Yudanaka
is located at the base of the mountain, 14km by road from Sun Valley, one of the lower Shiga ski areas. Staying in Yudanaka in one of the ryokans (Japanese inns) provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, and unlike staying on-mountain, Yudanaka offers the chance to wander around in the evening to explore the many restaurants and bars.
The Shibu Onsen
village is located adjacent to the town of Yudanaka. This cute historic onsen village features traditional ryokans that line narrow cobblestone streets and laneways. Here you may see people clomping up and down the street dressed in yukata and wooden thongs on the way to and from the public onsens. It’s worth visiting Shibu Onsen just to wander the streets and take in the traditional Japanese architecture, have a foot bath or onsen, or visit one of the little temples. And staying in one of the ryokans is a truly traditional Japanese experience.
Shiga Kogen Accommodation
There are lots of Shiga Kogen hotels spread across the many villages, and one of the huge advantages of a Shiga Kogen ski holiday is that much of the accommodation is conveniently ski-in ski-out or very close to it.
In Shiga Kogen, 3 star hotels are the most prevalent, and luxurious, modern and/or freshly renovated hotels are a bit of a rarity.
Many of the Shiga hotels offer Japanese style rooms where you sleep on futons on the tatami mat floor. Japanese rooms may or may not have an ensuite bathroom and many hotels have a shared onsen (hot spring bath). Western style hotels are reasonably common at Shiga Kogen that have comfortable western beds and some even have fluffy pillows (rather than beanbag type pillows). Single beds are the norm at Shiga Kogen (and most of the Japanese ski resorts!) and you’ll be hard pressed to find a double or queen bed.
All Shiga Kogen hotels offer the option of accommodation packages that include meals (breakfast and dinner). You may want to have dinner included because Shiga Kogen restaurants are very limited, as are the evening transport options to get to other villages. A degree of English is spoken by some of the staff at some Shiga Kogen accommodation, although as a general rule, English is not widely spoken.
Shiga Kogen doesn’t have any backpacker type accommodation, only a handful of pensions, and like most (non-westernised) Japanese ski resorts, self-contained accommodation is pretty much non-existent.
Sun Valley, Maruike, Hasuike & Giant Accommodation
If ski-in/ski-out Shiga Kogen accommodation is your preference there are some great value properties here. Beyond the skiing and having an onsen at your hotel, there is very little to do in this area and there are negligible public restaurants. All the hotels have restaurants serving breakfast & dinner as a minimum. Be prepared for a very Japanese experience at most of these properties and don't expect western customs and facilities.
Sun Valley is the lowest of the Shiga Kogen ski areas and this is not an ideal place to stay during the fringes of the season due to the possibly of minimal or poor snow cover. An advantage of these locations is easy and fast bus access to the southern ski areas, the snow monkeys
, and Shibu Onsen
Takamagahara and Mammoth are really centrally located, offering easy access via the slopes or shuttle buses to all of Shiga Kogen. Another advantage is that Takamagahara has a child care facility.
Some of the hotels in the southern area of this zone may feel rather remote, with very little to do outside of skiing, having an onsen, and eating dinner at your hotel.
Yakebitaiyama is the largest of the Shiga ski areas. This area also has the most modern facilities such as lift infrastructure. Little tackers might not notice that the green runs are steeper than a typical novice run, but adult beginners may prefer to learn over at Ichinose or Okushiga Kogen. Yakebitaiyama accommodation is dominated by the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel.
Yokoteyama & Kumanoya Accommodation
The isolation at this end of Shiga Kogen can be an advantage and disadvantage. You’ll need to catch a bus to get to the main ski areas of Shiga Kogen but if you just want to ski at Yokoteyama, Shibutoge and Kumanoyu, you’ll find these high elevation ski areas rather deserted. And the stench of sulphur is indicative that this area is renowned for its onsens! English isn’t widely spoken at many of the hotels, but you’ll know that you’ll have found the real Japan.