When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, people often bring up the term “powdery snow". Powdery snow is the most coveted type of snow when you want to slide down a mountain. This snow makes it a lot less painful when ehm… you come to a sudden stop.
There is a wide range of snow found all over the world, some powdery, others harsh. Shiga Kogen is renowned for its high-quality snow in Japan. This was the reason for the area to be elected as the center of the 1998 Winter Olympics. We will elaborate on why Shiga Kogen gets such a lovely snow blanket every year.
Please take a look at the terrain map of Central Japan below. You can see Shiga Kogen right in the middle, surrounded by the tallest mountains of Japan. Being enclosed from all sides, the warm southern winds can’t get to the region which causes the Highlands to get very cold.
The sea seen at the top left is called the Sea of Japan and is where most of the fiercest winds come from. This winds originating from here come from the cold north so these are quite a bit colder than the winds from the Pacific Ocean seen at the bottom right. Because of the cold wind blowing, the snow falling in the Shiga region is dryer and colder, thus more powdery, than most other areas.
The Shiga Kogen Highlands not only have the right winds blowing, but also an altitude of around 2000 meters. This is higher than most of the other ski resorts found in Japan, giving the snow more quality, because the higher you go, the colder it gets. Niseko has the summit at about 1300m high, and Hakuba area with a max of about 1800m, but skiing in Shiga starts at 1500m and goes up to 2300m.
The view from Yakebitai Mountain area