Skiing or snowboarding in Japan is a lot of fun. One reason is the great quality of snow, another is the incredibly high level of service, and last but not least is that a one-day ski pass in most areas will only set you back around 5000 JPY.
Before talking about the Shiga Kogen Snow Resorts, let us first tell you a little bit about some of the other major Japanese ski resorts. This to make it easier for you to decide where to go for your favorite winter activities.
Niseko is in Hokkaido, the big northern prefecture of Japan. Being in the high north means it gets cold earlier than the other ski resorts in Japan. Ski season here often starts around the end of November, whereas other ski resorts open half-way through December. More foreign than Japanese tourists come to this area as for the Japanese it is very far removed from Tokyo. The good thing about this is you can go around anywhere without having to overcome the language barrier. The negative thing about this is that the feeling of being in a different country is a little bit absent.
When it comes to snow quality, Niseko is very consistent every year with great powder snow.
Nozawa Onsen (Nagano)
Nozawa lies in the northern region of Nagano Prefecture, a prefecture located in the , a “quick" train or bus ride out of Tokyo. Nozawa is a ski resort that does not mainly rely on its slopes to attract people to the area. The Nozawa Onsen area, has in its name, is famous for onsen (hot spring baths) as well. The small town has a lovely relaxed atmosphere with nice cafes and restaurants found at every corner. Skiing and snowboarding here is good for beginners and advanced, and as the town is right at the foot of three ski resort areas, you don’t have to go far for some fun after sliding down the slopes.
Hakuba in central Japan might be the most well-known ski resort to foreigners. It has a huge amount with slopes and has some of Japan’s longest courses. This area has plenty of challenges for experienced skiers and boarders, but also caters to beginners and families. The slopes tend to be a bit far away from each other, so if you want to try all of them, you will need time. Next to slopes, there are plenty of other snow and après ski activities. Here, the snow quality is very high with plenty of powder snow.
Shiga Kogen (Nagano)
Last but not least is Shiga Kogen! Now, you might have noticed a pattern with the quality of snow, but the quality of snow in Shiga Kogen is often described as “platinum powder" and is often said that Shiga Kogen’s snow is some of Japan’s best snow. The Highlands are popular and well-know among local Japanese skiers for the quality snow. The area, just like some of the above stated ones, was used in the Nagano Winter Olympics of 1998 and is might be better known to the public as being home to the snow monkeys of Jigokudani. It is comprised of 19 different ski resorts with 12 different mountain peaks. The altitude ranges between 1,300 – 2,300 meters (4,200 – 7,500 feet).
As you can see on the above slope map, the area of Shiga Kogen is massive. While other ski resorts have 1 to 5 mountain peaks, Shiga Kogen has 19. One of the biggest things that attracts people for winter sports is not only the size of the ski resorts but also how the area is laid out, as the slopes are interconnected. In most places you would go up one slope a few times because otherwise you would have to completely move to a different area. With Shiga Kogen that is not the case as you go up a lift and down the slope and up another lift. You can spend the entire day going down different slopes. In addition, because of the widely-spread ski slopes, skiers and snowboarders tend to spread out and it is less likely to be crowded in each area, meaning less waiting line for the lifts. There is sliding for beginners as well as advanced. Plenty of other activities like sledging and scooting are also available to do with the whole family.