Facilities & Services
The ski resort facilities and services at Shiga Kogen are spread out across the many villages, so whilst Shiga Kogen has good amenities, it’s not always convenient to access them.
Shiga Kogen Ski School
Shiga Kogen has an abundance of ski schools scattered across the various villages. In the main, group lessons are not available with an English instructor. One exception is the Shiga International Ski School
who are based at Okushiga Kogen. They offer group lessons (max 6 per class) with English speaking instructors. For adults (and kids over 12) there are ski or snowboard lessons, whilst for kids under 12 there are only ski lessons (minimum age for group lessons is 4). Lessons are in half or full day formats and are rather reasonably priced. If you're not staying in the Okushigakogen village at a hotel such as the Okushigakogen Hotel
, or if you're not able to ski or snowboard over to the village, there are buses to get there, or the ski school offers transport from some hotels.
Sugiyama Ski and Snowsports School offers private lessons in English with meeting places at Okushigakogen, and the East and South Wings of the Prince Hotel. The Shitaka Shingo Yakebitaiyama Ski School offers private lessons in English and operates from the West Building of the Prince Hotel. The rates for one person are slightly less than Sugiyama, but are comparable if you have two to three people in the lesson.
Shiga Kogen Ski Hire
Rather than having stand-alone ski rental shops, most Shiga Kogen ski hire and snowboard hire is available within lots of the hotels.
Examples include the Sunroute Hotel in Ichinose, Olympic Hotel (Snowcan) in Ichinose, Hotel Shirakabaso in Hasuike, the Prince Hotel in Yakebitaiyama, and the Okushiga Kogen Hotel
or the Grand Phenix Hotel
(ski gear only) in Okushiga Kogen
. Snowcan also has two other ski rental shops in Ichinose village; one in the Hasuike Ropeway station, and one in the Kumanoyu and Yokoteyama area.
The Prince Hotel in Yakebitaiyama
has three rental equipment shops in each of their buildings (wings): a small shop in the East building lobby; the gondola station of the South building; and a large shop in the West building lobby. They hire out good quality ski and snowboard equipment for adults and children, as well as clothing. The ski rental shop at the West Wing also has a few powder skis for hire as well as some limited backcountry equipment. The Prince Hotel can cater for big sizes with ski boots up to 34cm, snowboard boots up to 32cm, and clothing up to XXXXL, remembering of course that the Japanese version of extra large is a little different to that of westerners!
Facilities for Children
Even though there are hundreds of Japanese kids at Shiga Kogen (sometimes it feels like thousands of little clones skiing around in the same outfit – why do the Japanese not embrace individualism?!), Shiga Kogen is not particularly well set up for western or English speaking children.
Takamagahara T-Kids Day Care Centre is located at the Takamagahara Mammoth ski area, providing child care from ages 6 months to 6 years, and there’s no guarantee that staff will speak English. Lunch time here is rather restrictive, with child care only available between 9:20am and 11:50am, and between 1:20pm and 3:50pm, which doesn’t leave parents with a lot of adult play time. Reservations are required.
Some of the hotels can organize babysitting such as the Prince Hotel in Yakebitaiyama or the Okushiga Kogen Hotel. The latter also has various family oriented evening activities.
Eating On Mountain
You won’t go hungry at Shiga Kogen. There are lots of little daytime restaurants and cafeterias situated around all the villages of Shiga Kogen. The reasonably priced fare is pretty typical for Japanese ski resorts with an abundance of ramens, curries and rice dishes. Thick yummy hot chocolates and (mostly) yucky Japanese coffees abound, as do vending machines – this is Japan after all!
The top of Yokoteyama has a couple of very cute eateries. The Crumpet Café is situated on the top floor of the lift building with tables set up around big heaters. Considering how cold it can get up at 2,350 metres, you’ll appreciate the heaters! In addition to quality coffees and chai lattes, they serve up a huge range of crumpets with savoury and sweet toppings. Opposite the lift station is the famous bakery which is Japan’s highest bakery. It is rather challenging to get bread and other bakery goods to rise at such high elevation, but they manage it well.
Another good spot for lunch is at one of the charming European hotel restaurants such as Hotel Shiga Aspen at the base of Giant ski area, where the Bunadaira and Nishidateyama ski areas converge. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be able to get a rösti or wiener schnitzel at one of the restaurants. The cuisine is definitely Japanese, but the décor and the sun chairs out the front provide a lovely European vibe.
If you’re at the northern end of Shiga Kogen at Okushiga Kogen and fancy an upscale lunch, head to the ski-in Italian restaurant at the Grand Phenix Hotel. Otherwise the après bar at the Okushiga Kogen Hotel has nice café meals and delightful coffee (some of the other Shiga Kogen coffee is dreadful so lap it up whilst you can!).
It can be a bit of a pain to get your hands on cash in Shiga Kogen, so it’s wise to get cashed up before you leave home or at the Narita Airport in the arrivals hall. Alternatively there is a post office and a 7-Eleven near the Nagano Station that has an ATM.
There is an ATM that accepts international cards at the post office at Shiga Kogen which is located in the lower village of Hasuike. Getting to Hasuike via the slopes or a shuttle bus can be rather time consuming if your accommodation is at one of the upper villages such as Yakebitaiyama or Ichinose. The post office is open for “office hours”.