Snow Much Fun at Shiga Kogen: Ski Resorts Galore and Snow Monkeys

Emily Ting

Welcome to Shiga Kogen—the largest combined ski area in Japan and home to the longest ski season in the country.

shiga kogen ski resort
Photo by LuxTonnerre used under CC

Pull on your snow boots any time between late November and mid-May, because this familiar-sounding ski resort is the perfect winter destination. Host to multiple events during Nagano’s 1998 Olympics and home to its own brand of Japanese beer (aptly named Shiga Kogen), this place has a fair bit to offer. 

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Ski resorts in Shiga Kogen

Shigakogen Skiing
Photo by hiropiro used under CC

The 18 ski resorts combined take at least two days to cover. Thankfully, they offer a single lift pass for a full-day for ¥5,000 . You can use it for all 51 lifts, gondolas and ropeways. You also have to pay a small ¥500 deposit, but you get it back when you return your IC card lift pass.

A four-hour pass costs ¥4,200 and some resorts also offer night passes as well as 1.5-day ones, with discounts for Spring Season (April 1st – May 6th).



Below is a quick round-up of some of the more popular areas in Shiga Kogen, which we recommend exploring at your own pace.

Okushiga Kogen

The northernmost resort, it has excellent snow quality. It is best for intermediate/advanced-level skiers and snowboarders and isn’t too crowded.

Yakebitaiyama

Yakebitaiyama neighbors Okushiga Kogen. It boasts well-developed lift infrastructure and runs for all ability levels. Yakebi and Higashitateyama (located in central Shiga Kogen) were resorts that hosted events in Nagano’s Olympics.

Ichinose

This is actually two resorts: Ichinose Family and Ichinose Diamond Ski Fields. Together, they make up a key area for accommodations (pro tip: Villa Ichinose is an affordable option here) and what little nightlife you can find in Shiga Kogen. A small area called Ichinose Yamanokami connects the two of them, and the various runs make it good for all levels.

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Terakoya

Terakoya is the second-highest resort of Shiga Kogen after Yokoteyama, so it has lots of dry powder snow. It’s very popular with ski racers.

Getting between resorts

Lifts and slopes connect many of the resorts to each other, for example, 15 of the ski resorts at the northeastern side, including Yakebitaiyama (aka Yakebi), Okushiga Kogen, and Ichinose. Shuttle buses go between resorts from December to early May and are free if you have the lift pass.

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Onsen towns near Shiga Kogen

Shibu Onsen near ShigaKogen
Photo by Yiannis Theologos Michellis used under CC

Nothing feels better than sinking into a steaming hot spring after a day of skiing—and luckily there are a few towns to choose from nearby. Shibu Onsen and Yudanaka Onsen offer normal baths while Jigokudani Monkey Park offers the famous sight of monkeys bathing in hot springs.

The first two towns can be reached on the bus route between Nagano and Shiga Kogen (see below for more details). If you’re looking to go a bit further, you can catch a bus to Mount Shirane and then down to Kusatsu Onsen—one of the more well-known hot spring towns in Japan thanks to its open-air water chutes.

Tour packages for Shiga Kogen

tokyo to jigokudani
Photo by SteFou! used under CC

One-day tour: Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen: This quick tour from Nagano is for those who want to go to Shiga Kogen and get a lot done. The morning involves visiting Jigokudani Park. After lunch (included), you get some time on Shiga Kogen’s slopes and a chance to enjoy the view from further up the mountain. It’s an action-packed day starting at ¥17,800 per person.

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Getting from Tokyo to Shiga Kogen: Transport options

Shiga Kogen Transport Road
Photo by Kohei Fujii used under CC

Trains

The Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Station is about ¥8,000 and takes around 1.5 hours. The JR Pass or JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass is ideal–you can compare rail passes here

From Nagano Station, you can take the Nagaden trains to get to Yudanaka Station, which is the closest to Shiga Kogen. There are two options: catch the Nagano Electric Railway, with a change at Shinshunnakano, which takes 70 minutes and costs ¥1,160, or spend an extra ¥100 and catch the Limited Express, which takes 45-50 minutes (bonus if you catch the Snow Monkey train). Then, at Yudanaka, hop on a local bus to Hasuike for ¥840, which takes 30 minutes.

An easier option is the Nagaden Shiga Kogen Express bus. During ski season, it goes from Nagano Station to Shiga Kogen’s Hasuike about once an hour. It’s only ¥1,700 and takes about 70 minutes. From Hasuike, you can continue on the Nagaden to Oku Shiga Kogen or towards the south. You can also get on a different shuttle bus serving the other resorts.

Buses

Highway buses take about 3.5 hours, and the prices range from ¥2,000 to ¥4,000.

For more information on Shiga Kogen, see their info site. And for other winter options, have a look at our guide to skiing and snowboarding near Tokyo.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in January, 2018. Last updated December, 2018.

Written by:
Filed under: Things to do
Tags: Family, Nature, Outdoors, Resort, Ski Resort, Skiing, Snow Monkeys, Snowboard, Snowboarding, Sports, Winter
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Name: Shiga Kogen
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