Do you love to ski or snowboard? Then Shiga Kogen (or Shiga) is where you need to go. The fact that the Highlands were the stage for the 1998 Winter Olympics is already testament to the quality of snow found there. If this is not reason enough to pay a visit to Shiga Kogen just yet, here are a few more facts to sway you:
1) Shiga is one of the largest ski resort in Japan. It has 19 places where you can do winter sports and 52 operative ski lifts/gondolas and ski slopes that cover an area of over 425 hectare. One of the most convenient things about the lifts in Shiga Kogen is that most of them are interconnected. So you can easily hop from one ski lift/slope to the next. You could also choose to ski/snowboard from one slope to the other which will make for a course of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles).
2) The Shiga region has some of the best powdery snow in all of Japan. This is partially because of an altitude of between 1500 and 2300 meters (4500 – 6900 feet), and partially because of the right winds blowing. If you would like to know more about why the snow here is so good, be sure to check out the article about the snow quality!
3) The area has a great variety of slopes with beginners (40%), intermediate (37%) and advanced (23%) slopes as well as some kid’s slopes. The average incline is about 14° but there are areas within Shiga Kogen that give up to a 36° incline. There is something for everyone at Shiga.
4) The price. Skiing in Japan is very affordable as a ski lift day-pass only sets you back about 5000 JPY. Here at Shiga this also includes a shuttle bus that could take you between the different ski areas. However, when staying at Shiga Kogen, which is highly advisable, some hotels will offer a package deal for a ski pass for the amount of days that you are staying. If a package deal is not on hand, they will surely help you get one.
5) Accessibility. It is very easy to get to from Tokyo. You get the Shinkansen to Nagano and from there a direct bus to Shiga Kogen. For specifics, please check the article on how to access Shiga. Shiga Kogen is also accessible in that they make it easy for you to go skiing there. There is an international ski school within Shiga Kogen. Here you can learn to slide without having to fight through a language barrier, giving it a nice accessibility also for those who are inexperienced.
So here you have your introduction to Shiga Kogen. If you are looking for ski/snowboard experience in Japan, please go and look for a hotel this winter!