As Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen offers an expansive area of terrain to explore and some of the most beautiful powder landscapes to carve and slash your way through each winter. At an impressive 600 hectare spread over 79 courses covered by a single all-mountain pass (JPY5000), Shiga takes days to traverse and fully discover, best appreciated on ‘Ski Safari’ on a multiday visit.
We encourage to do just that! Shiga Kogen is a Snow Monkey Resorts favorite and we love to promote it. The total size of the 18 ski areas that make-up the resort can be as daunting as they are enticing, making it helpful to break Shiga down to its component areas to get your head around all on offer.
The obvious (and most convenient) place to start your Shiga exploration is the resort’s Central Area. 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.
The Central Area-only day pass (JPY4,900) covers all 50 courses – with an approximate division of 50% beginner, 35% intermediate, and 15% advanced – across the many ski areas that make up this expansive area which caters for all levels of skiers and boarders.
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. 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.
Ascending to 1900 meters (6233ft), the Takamagahara chairlift offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape from where you can drop into the next ski area including Higashidateyama on one of the downhill practice courses used in the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Sitting above the Ichinose Family ski fields, 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. An obvious highlight of this ski area is testing yourself on the ‘Olympic Course’ as used during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and subsequent World Cup events.
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. 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 has a variety of courses catering to all levels, including flat slopes in the upper portion and steep slopes on the lower portion. The furthest extent of the Central Area takes you to Sun Valley (which is in fact the first of the ski area you reach when ascending to Shiga Kogen on the mountain road), Maruike, and Hasuike. 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 and 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 Central Area and beyond!
For further details of the Central Area including a summary of the resort and individual ski fields, season dates and operating times, rental and ski school, accommodation, and access information please refer to our Shiga Kogen Central Area General Information page.
Takamagahara 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!), Takamagahara is the most convenient area to base yourself while in Shiga.
The village offers many accommodation options with our recommendation being Hotel Sunny Shiga. Located in the middle of Takamagahara and only minutes walk from the local bus stops and bottom ski runs of the Ichinose Diamond and Ichinose Family Ski Resorts, Hotel Sunny 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 Sunny 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 Sunny Shiga is our travel tip for those seeking affordable and convenient accommodation in the heart of the Central Area.
Other convenient options in Takamagahara include: Shiga Park Hotel and Hotel Takimoto Nearby Ichinose Village also offers a number of accommodation options including: Hotel Ichinose, Hotel Japan Shiga, Chalet Shiga, Diamond Shiga, Shiga Skyland Hotel, Sports Hotel Silver Shiga, Hotel Khuls Shiga Kogen, and Shiga Grand Hotel.
Higashidateyama provides a couple of options including: Hotel Higashidate, Hotel Iwasuge. The ski areas of Sun Valley, Maruike and Hasuike have accommodation including: Hotel Shiga Sun Valley, Hotel Shirakabaso, Shiganoyu Hotel, Shiga Lake Hotel, Biwaike 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.
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!