There are many reasons to choose Japan for your winter sports holiday. Numerous resorts, reliable snow conditions including world-class powder, friendly locals, great food, all the cultural trimmings, and onsen (natural hot springs) after a day on the slopes combine to make Japan an enticing destination for international visitors.
Another big reason to head this way in winter is cost! Let’s face it, skiing and snowboarding are expensive pursuits however lift passes in Japan are often notably cheaper than those available at overseas resorts, making Nagano’s resorts even more appealing.
As Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen, offers an expansive area to explore and conquer including 79 courses, spread over a huge variety of terrain connected by 51 chairlifts and gondolas. The topography of the mountain means that Shiga is blessed with Nagano’s best and most reliable powder snow and stunning natural beauty. It would take days to explore the entire resort and the locals will always encourage to do exactly that by extending your stay and traverse the entire resort on a “ski safari”.
Whether you are visiting Shiga Kogen for a morning, a day, or longer, the resort offers a single/common electronic pass that covers all ski areas. At JPY4200 for 4 hours or JPY5000 for a 1-day pass for adults, with an array of other ticketing options, this represents great value for money. As the table below shows, lift passes are cheaper in the early season (through early December) and again in spring (April to May), with further discounts for seniors, students, persons with disabilities, and a parent-child combination ticket.
One-and-a-half, two, or three day tickets offer further value for visitors who want to get the most of their visit to Shiga. This is a large resort which takes days to fully explore. With 18 ski areas including Terakoya, the central areas including Ichinose and Takamagahara (as pictured below), Higashitateyama, Yokoteyama, and Okushiga/Yakebitai among others, a mutliday pass is the best way to undertake your own “Ski Safari” on the seemingly endless (often empty) powder white runs.
At JPY5000 for a 1-day adult lift pass, Shiga Kogen’s 79 ski runs stand alone as the best value in Japan. Two important points of note when heading to Shiga and buying your lift pass:
- “One-time tickets” including 4 hour or 1-day passes cannot be purchased using a credit card so please bring cash (something you will get used to doing in Japan!).
- Shiga Kogen uses an electronic keycard system. You must pay a deposit of JPY500 for the card at time of purchase i.e. if you are buying a 1-day adult pass for JPY5000 the total cost will be JPY5500 at time of purchase. The JPY500 deposit is returned to you at the end of your day when you return the key pass to the ticket office. It’s worth noting that the card can be returned at any ticket office and does not need to be taken to the specific office at which you bought it.
With 79 runs, Shiga has the most courses and trails of any single Japanese resort. To put that in perspective, nearby Nozawa Onsen offers visitors the next most runs at a Nagano resort with 36 courses (JPY4800 lift pass), while Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field has the most runs in Hakuba Valley, at 23 courses (JPY4400 lift pass). Rusutsu has the most ski runs of any single resort in Hokkaido with 37 courses (JPY5900 lift pass). Shiga is very simply unmatched in its size and value for money.
Whichever way you look at it Shiga Kogen is one of the most appealing resorts in Japan and definitely our favorite. We suggest you book those tickets and come see for yourself this winter!
*Exact season dates and prices for winter 2018/19 have yet to be announced. The information provided above is accurate at time of publication.
Shiga Kogen multi-day ski packages
Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 Tour operator, offering both 3 night/4 day and 5 night/6 day ski and snowboard packages in Shiga Kogen – the most convenient way to get the most out of your winter adventure in Japan!
Including lift passes for the duration of your stay, accommodation at Hotel Mount Shiga, a fine dining experience at one of the region’s most renowned restaurants, our popular 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour, and transport from/to JR Nagano Station, our convenient packages take the hassle out of planning your trip and combine the best of Shiga Kogen with all that this beautiful region has to offer!
For visitors wanting to get the most out of their visit to Shiga, and explore all it has to offer, we recommend staying in the most central area, Ichinose Village. Hotel Mount Shiga is a great choice of accommodation in the village offering guests warm and friendly service, both Western and Japanese-style rooms, meal service, and ski hire and tickets.
Hotel Mount Shiga is one of the few guesthouses in Shiga Kogen with its own, in-house ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring) for the exclusive use of guests. At the end of the day on the mountain there is no better way to unwind, relax, and prime yourself for the next day than soaking in the thermal waters, bubbling up from deep below. A huge part of local culture, indulging in onsen is one of the highlights of skiing and snowboarding in Japan!
Easily accessible by public transport and private vehicle, Hotel Mount Shiga is a great option for those looking for a traditional Japanese ski lodge in the heart of the action.
Shiga Kogen is easily accessible using the Nagaden Dentetsu (Nagaden) train line followed by a local bus from JR Yudanaka Station or a direct express bus from JR Nagano Station. For more detailed access information please refer to our earlier article explaining how to make the journey to Shiga Kogen by public transport.