Shiga Kogen & Kita-Shiga Kogen in Winter
Yamanouchi Town consists of three distinct areas: Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen, Shiga Kogen and Kita-Shiga Kogen. Of those, Shiga Kogen and Kita-Shiga Kogen are dominated by ski resorts, that in winter, offer some of Nagano’s best skiing and snowboarding. From Yudanaka and Shibu, both Shiga Kogen and Kita-Shiga Kogen are accessible using public transport, private taxi or charter. Both areas boast plenty of accommodation options and most importantly, lots of great snow!
As Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen offers an expansive area to explore and conquer – around 80 courses, spread over a huge variety of terrain connected by more than 50 chairlifts and gondolas. In total, Shiga Kogen offers around 600 hectares of terrain and 80+ km of trails covered by one all-mountain pass.
Shiga Kogen is both the largest and highest ski resort in Japan. Boasting the highest chair-lifted ski run in Japan – reaching 2307 metres at Yokoteayama – Shiga is notably higher than the nearby resorts of Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen and Hakuba. The altitude and topography of the mountain means that Shiga is blessed with Nagano’s best and most reliable powder snow and stunning natural beauty. The topography and layout of Shiga is reminiscent of European resorts, with ski runs leading into the valleys between the mountains where a seemingly endless expanse of terrain is waiting to be discovered; while the altitude of the resort – located between 1340 to 2307 meters – blesses it with Nagano’s longest season – opening in mid to late-November – and best spring-skiing – which (in a good season) will last well into May. For more information and suggestions of what’s on offer in Shiga all year round, please see our ‘Activities in Shiga Kogen’ page.
Nearby the ski resorts of Kita-Shiga Kogen are notably smaller than their larger neighbor, but what it lacks for size, it makes up in vertical, fun and powder dumps! As the largest resort in Kita-Shiga, Ryuoo Ski Park has only 15 courses but a substantial 1080 metres of vertical (850-1930). Popular with locals and young Tokyo-ites, Ryuoo has a youthful atmosphere and is dominated by snowboarders.
The resort is long, narrow and effectively split into three sections: easy (and often crowded) beginner slopes at the bottom, intermediate courses in the midsection and advanced terrain and often excellent powder at the top. The resort is dominated by the Skyland Express Ropeway which ascends to the top of the resort at 1770 metres and the Sora Terrace Café – a popular destination in both winter and late-spring to autumn.
For more information and suggestions of what’s on offer in Kita-Shiga all year round, see our ‘Activities in Kita-Shiga Kogen’ page and our ‘Hiking, Cycling & Photography in Shiga Highland’ page.