Shiga Kogen Ski Resort Central Area
Comprising approximately 35 ski runs serviced by 30 chairlifts and 2 gondolas, 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 visiting Shiga Kogen in winter. 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 in the Central Area
— Book with Us! Accommodation & Ski Packages in Shiga Kogen
— Japan Ski Resorts: Everything You Need to Know
— Getting To & Around Shiga Kogen in Winter
— Discover Yamanouchi – Home of the Snow Monkey
— Book with Us! Nagano’s No.1 Tour & Charter Operator
— Japan Rail Deals: Travel Passes & Discounted Tickets
It is worth noting that the Central Area is only one of three areas within overall Shiga Kogen Ski Resort – all of which is covered by an all-mountain pass offering Japan’s largest extent of terrain. Make sure to check-out our full ‘Shiga Kogen Ski Resort’ page for everything you need to know about the overall resort. Let’s look at just the Central starting with the basics:
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: 35 ski runs – beginner 50% / intermediate 35% / advanced 15% – serviced by 22 chairlifts and 2 gondolas.
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 Hoppo 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 ski fields of Shiga Kogen typically open from early to mid-December with the official resort opening sometime in mid-December. Exact dates vary between seasons depending on snow conditions however you can expect the entire resort to be open by mid-December and the snow should be very good to excellent by the second half of December until mid-April. Areas of the resort open earlier and will stay open later, so make sure to also checkout our full Shiga Kogen Ski Resort page – using the link above. Lifts typically operate from 08:00 or 08:30 to 16:30 (there may be some variation between specific ski fields and lifts.
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.
Night-skiing is available in the Central Area ski fields of Ichinose Diamond, Ichinose Family, Takamagahara, Maruike and Sun Valley. Operating dates and times vary however lifts usually operate from 18:30 to 19:00 to 20:30 or 21:00. Maruike and Sun Valley only operate night-skiing around the New Year period and a couple of other days. Ichinose Diamond and Takamagahara typically operate night-skiing over the New Year period and every Saturday. Ichinose Family is your best bet for night-skiing in the Central Area – operating everyday over the Christmas/New Year period and then everyday other than Mondays and Tuesdays until the second half of March. Please note, night-skiing is not covered by the all-mountain/day-pass and requires an additional ticket – typically costing around JPY2000 depending on the ski area.
Visitors to Shiga Kogen’s Central Area have the option of an all-mountain pass – covering all 18 ski areas of the resorts described above and, in addition, Yakebitaiyama and Okushiga Ski Resorts along with Kumanoyu, Yokoteyama and Shibutouge ski fields– or a Central Area-only pass – covering the 13 ski areas described above. To get the most out your time in Shiga (and the minimal price difference), we recommend the all-mountain pass:
Central Area-only (13 Ski Area) Ski Pass
Shiga Kogen All-Mountain (18 Ski Area) Passes / recommended
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:
Shiga Kogen Yamanoeki: as the most convenient launching point for exploring the resort, Shiga Kogen Yamanoeki includes ski and snowboard rental, which can be arranged before walking onto the Pulse Gondola and heading on the the ski runs.
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.
ACCOMMODATION IN THE CENTRAL AREA
Ichinose and Takamagahara has the greatest concentration of accommodation and restaurants in Shiga Kogen and given its location at the central junction of the entire resort, provides the greatest easiest access to all areas of Shiga. 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!).
The village offers many accommodation options with our recommendation being Hotel Sunny Shiga. Located across from the Takamagahara ski field, 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 ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring) 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.
BOOK WITH US! ACCOMMODATION & SKI PACKAGES IN SHIGA KOGEN
Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are a registered travel agent, tour and charter operator offering a full-suite of winter services including ski/snowboard packages, accommodation, lift passes, private charters and a range of tours including both group and private options covering Shiga Kogen:
SHIGA KOGEN ACCOMMODATION & SKI PACKAGES
As Japan’s largest and highest ski resort, Shiga Kogen is blessed with Nagano’s longest season and most reliable snow. Accommodation is dotted across the resort’s expansive 600ha of terrain with the nearby hot spring villages of Kanbayashi Onsen, Shibu Onsen and Yudanaka Onsen offering a great alternative for visitors wanting to enjoy Japan’s legendary ‘onsen’ culture – PLAN & BOOK IN SHIGA NOW!
JAPAN SKI RESORTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Did you know that Shiga Kogen is just one of the more than eighty ski resorts in Nagano and more than five hundred in Japan? Needless to say, when you choose Nagano for your winter getaway you are spoiled for choice! Our ‘Japan Ski Resorts’ page has everything you need to know to start planning your ski and snowboard adventure including: LATEST NEWS & DEALS, THE BEST RESORTS IN NAGANO & JAPAN, FAQs and of course OUR SKI PACKAGES, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT & TOURS.
GETTING TO & AROUND SHIGA KOGEN IN WINTER
Located approximately 45KM (1 hour drive) to the east of Nagano City and 280KM (<5 hours drive) to the northwest of Tokyo, most visitors head to Shiga Kogen via Nagano Station. As a stop on the Hokuriku Shinaknsen running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, Nagano Station is a convenient point from where to head to Shiga using the Nagaden Snow Monkey/Shiga Kogen Express Bus.
For the express bus timetable to and from the resort, see our ‘Nagaden Shiga Kogen Express Bus Timetable’ page.For details on how to reach Shiga from Nagano and beyond, see our ‘How to Get to Shiga Kogen – Nagano Ski Resorts Info’ page.
Located in the Hasuike area, Shiga Kogen Yamanoeki (Mountain Station) is the resort’s primary transport hub. Express and local bus services stop at the mountain station, with the new ‘Pulse’ Gondola providing immediate access to the Giant ski area. The resort’s shuttle bus also operates from the mountain station, making it a great point from which to start and end your time in Shiga Kogen.
DISCOVER YAMANOUCHI – HOME OF THE SNOW MONKEYS
As the nearest ski resort to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, no winter visit to Shiga Kogen is complete without experiencing the curious sight of the hot spring-loving monkeys!
Both the monkey park and Shiga Kogen lie within the broader area of Yamanouchi. Consisting of three distinct areas – Yudanaka & Shibu Onsen, Shiga Kogen and Kita-Shiga Kogen – Yamanouchi is known for its heavy snowfall and fantastic skiing and snowboarding, along with its hot spring towns and all the trimmings of a traditional country area.
If you’re looking to experience an authentic taste of Japan on your next ski holiday, we recommend taking it slow and discovering all that Yamanouchi has to offer!
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Locally-based and operating all year round, Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s many ski resorts and other fantastic destinations and activities.
For guests wanting to access the resorts in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination including from/to Nagano Station and any resort in the region. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule.
All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2022 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.
Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan this winter? Contact us and let’s get planning together!
JAPAN RAIL DEALS: TRAVEL PASSES & DISCOUNTED TICKETS
Many if not most people heading to the ski resorts of Nagano and Niigata do so via Nagano Station and Echigo-Yuzawa Station. Both are serviced by Shinkansen/Bullet Train lines running from Tokyo, making them quick and easy to get to.
Any foreign passport-holder – both international visitors and foreign residents of Japan – is eligible for the ‘Japan Rail (JR) East Pass’ for Nagano & Niigata. Covering 5 days of unlimited use within a 14-day period, the pass includes travel on both the Hokuirku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen lines – a great deal if you’re planning to move between the regions while here.
In addition, JR East offers a 3-Day ‘Welcome Pass’ for foreign passport-holders. The pass covers multiple shinkansen lines and other major train routes – a fantastic deal and great option for getting to and moving around Central Japan.
Japan Rail is currently also offering discounted prices on many train services, including shinkansen lines across the country. With discounts of up to 50% available when purchasing online, our ‘Discount Shinkansen Tickets: How to Buy Online’ page includes an English step-by-step guide of how to purchase tickets online.