The Shiga Kogen Highlands are most know know as the region that holds the largest ski resorts of all of Japan. Loads of people come to enjoy skiing and snowboarding down the mountains. In summer however, what to do in these Highlands? Here is a list of activities we’d recommend when you’re in the area:
- Hiking: the number 1 activity in summer is without the shadow of a doubt hiking. The Highlands are full of all sorts of hiking trails. There are hour long hiking routes, as well as day-long, or multiple-day routes. Shiga Kogen is rich in hiking courses but also rich in Japanese Black Bears, so caution is advised. Take a bear bell or bear spray with you if you go on one of the lesser traveled routes. See for one of the recommended hiking courses here.
- Ski lifts: Even if skiing is not an option, there are some lifts that still take people high up the mountains. These lifts will take you as high as 2000 meters above sea level. The view from above is gorgeous on a clear day, with the scenery stretching for miles and miles. We have a Snow Monkey, Shiga Highlands Nature, and Shibu Onsen Village tour that takes you up one of the ski lifts available for those who’d like to go up there.
- Getting away from the heat: The high altitude of the Shiga Kogen Highlands makes for a perfect temperature, nice and mild. Grab yourself some food for a picknick, go to one of the many, many lakes in Shiga Kogen, and relax.
- Onsen: Before becoming the largest ski resort in Japan, the Shiga Highlands were known for their mineral-rich hot springs. In total, Shiga Kogen has 7 natural hot spring sources which flow all over the Highlands. If you’d like to try out some of the onsen, most hotel around have onsen that can be used by daytrippers as well.
- Daija Festival & Miss Shiga Kogen Contest: The Daija Festival is held on the third weekend of August and its festivities last for three days. The festival is based on the legend that says that a serpent lived in the lakes of Shiga Kogen and could disguise himself as a samurai in order to walk around unnoticed. To honor this legend, a large manmade serpent is paraded around the streets and carried across the lakes. Besides the serpent there are art performances, live music, and a miss contest. For more information about this event, please take a look here.
- Biking: The Shiga Highlands are home to the highest national road of Japan. This road happens to be excellent for cycling. If you start at the highest point, the cycle is all easy and downhill, with absolutely stunning scenery. Our recommendation would be to ride your bike down to Kusatsu Onsen, one of the top hot spring resorts. If you’d like to get accompanied on a tour, please take a look at our tour page.
- Highest Bakery in Japan: Located 2305 meter above sea level, the Unjo no Yado Yokote Sancho Hyutte in Shiga Kogen is said to be the highest bakery in all of Japan. They serve some delicious bread so you can enjoy your breakfast/lunch while looking out over the entire Shiga Highlands and the area below.