Comprising approximately 50 ski runs serviced by 30 chairlifts and 1 gondola, Shiga Kogen’s Central Area is by itself bigger than most Japanese resorts and your gateway to the entire resort. With the greatest concentration of accommodation, restaurants and bars, and services including ski school and rental, currency exchange and a medical facility, the ski fields of the Central Area are the ideal to base yourself when coming to Shiga Kogen.
This page includes:
- Overview of the Central Area
- Individual Ski Fields – who they suit & highlights
- Season Dates, Operating Times, Lift & Ticket Information
- Rental & Ski School
- Accommodation Options
- Access Information & Private Charter Service
Overview of the Central Area
Located in the middle of Shiga Kogen, you are almost guaranteed to go through at least some of the ski fields of the Central Area, with enough variation and quality of terrain to keep you busy for a day or more.
The individual ski areas – some large, some small – that make-up the Central Area cater to all levels with the majority of runs suited for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
The official stats are: 50 ski runs – beginner 50% / intermediate 35% / advanced 15% – serviced by 30 chairlifts and 1 gondola.
A highlight of the Central Area are the ski runs used in competition in the 1998 Winter Olympics and World Cup events. Located in the Higashidateyama area and accessible using the Higashidateyama gondola, the ‘Olympic Course’ runs from 1970m (6463ft) and descends to the base over 1.6km (1 mile) away.
Having host Olympic alpine skiing it goes without saying that the course is suited to high-intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders but also breaks-off into a 4km forest trail suited to beginners and low-intermediates.
Individual Ski Fields – who they suit & highlights
While the central ski fields of Shiga Kogen are just one part of the overall resort, it still equates to a big area which can be difficult to get your head around on the first visit. So let’s break it down into the specific ski fields that make-up the Central Area:
Ichinose & Takamagahara
Ichinose Diamond is at the key junction of the overall resort connecting the central ski fields to the more distant areas of Yakebitayama and Okushiga and having the greatest concentration of accommodation and restaurants. Above Ichinose Diamond, the northern-facing Ichinose Yamanokami slopes offer great snow quality and are popular for group lessons and slalom practice.
These ski fields are adjoining the Ichinose Family Ski Resort, the area is popular with families including a kids-only slope. But don’t let the name fool you. This area caters to all levels – from beginner to advanced – and connects to one of the mountaintops of Shiga Kogen – the beautiful ski runs of Terakoya (see below).
Connected to the east of the Ichinose ski runs, Tanne-no-mori Okojo is known for its pristine runs through pine and white birch forests, and lead to the more challenging terrain of Takamagahara Mammoth. The wide, groomed runs of this area and side mogul course is particularly popular with advanced skiers who want challenge themselves at high speed or the tight turns of moguls.
Ascending to 1900 meters (6233ft), the Takamagahara chairlift offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape including a brilliant panorama of the overall resort and high mountain peaks once at the top, from where you can drop into the next ski area including Higashidateyama (see below) on one of the downhill practice courses used in the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Terakoya, Higashidateyama & Nishidateyama, Happo Bunadaira & Giant
Sitting above the Ichinose Family ski fields, Terakoya is one of the highest peaks in Shiga Kogen and offers skiers and snowboarders exceptional powder and alpine views. Ascending the 2060 meters (6758ft) Terakoya is one of the highest chair-lifted ski fields in Japan and a highlight to any visit to Shiga Kogen.
From Terakoya, you can descent into the advanced runs of the Higashidateyama Ski Resort (pronounced ‘hii-ga-shi-da-tay-ya-ma’). Including ski courses used during the 1998 Winter Olympics and World Cup events, advanced skiers/boarders will relish the chance to challenge themselves of world-class terrain. For the less advanced, Higashidateyama includes courses suitable for all levels including a beautiful, winding tree course popular with beginners, families, and couples.
Beginners and those wanting to just take it easy will enjoy the Happo Bunadaira area directly below Higashidateyama. The wide, flat slopes are the ideal practice area for first-timers and beginners still building their confidence.
At the base of Happo Bundaira, you will find another key junction which is a great launching point toward the eastern areas of Shiga with accommodation and food options. This is a great place to stop, recharge, and even stay if you want to enjoy a multiday say in the resort. Rising above, the Giant Ski Resort (to the east) offers a single, wide slope which is FIS (International Ski Federation) approved and as such, kept in exceptional condition.
To the west, the Nishidateyama Ski Resort (pronounced ‘ni-shi-da-tay-ya-ma’) has a variety of courses catering to all levels, including flat slopes in the upper portion and steep slopes on the lower portion. Occasionally used for international competitions and slalom training, this is another area popular with skiers/boarders looking to challenge themselves.
Sun Valley, Maruike & Hasuike
Approaching Shiga Kogen along the main mountain road from the valley below, this is actually the first area you will reach, starting with Sun Valley. This is a great place to start from with a good range of accommodation and some restaurants, you can launch yourself into the resort. Sun Valley has a single main run – approximately 800 meters in length – and is one of the lowest reaches of the resort.
Sun Valley is connected to the adjacent ski fields of Maruike (pronounced ‘ma-roo-ii-kay’) and Hasuike (pronounced ‘ha-swee-kay’), allowing you to move quickly and between them. Maruike lays claim to the first-ever chairlift installed in Japan with its ‘Slope A’ course known for its difficulty but also home to a kids park, popular with the little guys and their families.
Hasuike has two beginner runs that gently extend for 600 and 500 meters respectively. This area is perfect for children, families, and first-timers just finding their feet. Overall the combined ski fields of Sun Valley, Maruike and Hasuike are small and despite some intermediate and advanced terrain, this area won’t keep intermediate and advanced skiers/boarders entertained for long. But as the first ski fields you’ll reach when coming to Shiga Kogen, it’s a convenient area from which to start and return to at the end of the day, and great launching point into the rest of the resort!
Season Dates, Operating Times, Lift & Ticket Information
The Central Area of Shiga Kogen will officially open on December 21st 2018 with the main season scheduled to run until March 31st 2019. In addition, Shiga Kogen offers both early season and spring skiing, depending on the snow conditions each season. As the season progresses we will update this information as it is announced.
Most chairlifts and gondolas start operation at 08:00 and run until 16:30 each day (with some lifts closing at 16:00). As always, lift and gondola operation is subject to daily weather conditions and operation may be suspended due to high winds and heavy snowfall including white-out. The safety of skiers and snowboarders is always the paramount concern and please be aware of the local weather conditions, which can change quickly in alpine areas.
Visitors to Shiga Kogen’s Central Area have the option of full-mountain passes – covering all areas of the resorts described above and, in addition, Yakebitaiyama and Okushiga Ski Resorts along with Yokoteyama and Shibutouge Ski Resorts – or Central Area-only passes – covering all ski fields described above.
Central Area-only Passes
Rental & Ski School
The Central Area has 4 convenient locations for renting ski and snowboard gear (prices and availability between stores), with some hotels also offering in-house rental services, including Hotel Mount Shiga (see below).
Ichinose Diamond: down from the Ichinose Diamond slope you will find a large building including rental and restaurants.
Ichinose Family: the Shiga Kogen Olympic Hotel is located at the base of ski fields and includes the Snowcan rental inside the hotel.
Takamagahara Mammoth: rental can be found in the Dakekanba restaurant building.
Hasuike: located in the restaurant building called ‘Hasuike Gateway Station’, which is conveniently nearby the public bus stop.
Foreign language ski and snowboard lessons are available in English through the International Ski School operating out of Okushiga. Group lessons are conducted in Okushiga and require guests to get themselves there (which is easily done on the resorts free shuttle bus).
Private lessons can be conducted anywhere in the resort, including the central ski fields, with the instructors collecting you from your accommodation and conducting your lesson on suitable nearby ski runs. Some hotels with foreign/English-speaking staff may be able to offer lessons however this service would need to be confirmed directly with your hotel.
Ichinose Village has the greatest concentration of accommodation and restaurants in Shiga Kogen and given its location at the central junction of the entire resort. Serviced by local buses including the free shuttle service that connects all parts of the resort during the day and immediate access to the ski runs of Ichinose & Takama (and beyond!), Ichinose Village is the most convenient area to base yourself while in Shiga.
The village offers many accommodation options with our recommendation being Hotel Mount Shiga. Located in the middle of Ichinose Village and only minutes walk from the local bus stops and bottom ski runs of the Ichinose Diamond and Ichinose Family Ski Resorts, Hotel Mount Shiga ticks all the boxes of a traditional Japanese ski lodge including both Western and Japanese style rooms, in-house restaurant including both dinner service and buffet breakfast and ski/snowboard rental.
Perhaps best of all, Hotel Mount Shiga has an in-house large public bath which at the end of a long day on the mountain is the ideal place unwind and rejuvenate for the next days adventures!
Known for its friendly service and cozy atmosphere, Hotel Mount Shiga is our travel tip for those seeking affordable and convenient accommodation in the heart of the Central Area.
Other convenient options in Ichinose Village include: Hotel Ichinose, Hotel Japan Shiga, Chalet Shiga, Diamond Shiga, Shiga Skyland Hotel, Sports Hotel Silver Shiga, Hotel Khuls Shiga Kogen, and Shiga Grand Hotel.
Access Information & Private Charter Service
Shiga Kogen’s Central Area is easily accessible using public transport or by private vehicle including private charter. Most visitors will start their journey from JR Nagano Station, which serviced by the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, is directly connected to Tokyo. Once at Nagano Station, you can reach Shiga Kogen using the express bus service or train to Yudanaka Station (the nearest station to the resort) followed by local bus or taxi to the resort itself.
Full transport details can be found at: HOW TO GET TO SHIGA KOGEN – NAGANO SKI RESORTS INFO.
Snow Monkey Resorts Charters
Locally-based and fully accredited, Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s most reliable charter operator operating a range of vehicles suitable for individuals, couples, and families, and groups of up to 44 individuals.
Charters can be arranged from any point of origin including central Tokyo and its airports, JR Nagano Station, other nearby ski resorts, or any other location of your choosing.
For further information regarding your options please refer to our Charter Services page. Let us worry about the roads and your luggage, so you can focus on what you came here for – mountains, powder, and the endless runs of Shiga Kogen!