Japan’s largest combined ski area. One of its longest skiing seasons (mid-November to early May). The host of multiple events during Nagano’s 1998 Olympics. Shiga Kogen is the ideal skiing and snowboarding destination.
You can also visit nearby hot spring towns and Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you’ll enjoy the famous sight of monkeys bathing in hot springs.
Tokyo to Shiga Kogen: Transportation options
The Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano Station is about ¥8,000 and takes around 1.5 hours (the JR Pass and JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass are your friends!). Highway buses take about 3.5 hours, and the prices range from ¥2,000 and ¥4,000.
From Nagano Station, you can take the Nagaden trains to get to Yudanaka Station, which is the closest to Shiga Kogen. It’s a 70-minute ride for 1,160 yen with one transfer at Shinshu-Nakano Station. If you can, take the limited-express trains. They go directly to Yudanaka in 50 minutes and cost 1,260 yen. Then at Yudanaka, get on a local bus to Hasuike for 840 yen, which takes 30 minutes.
The easier option is the Nagaden Shiga Kogen Express. During ski season, it goes from Nagano Station to Shiga Kogen’s Hasuike about once an hour. It’s only 1,700 yen 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.
Resorts in Shiga Kogen
The 19 ski resorts combined take at least two days to cover. Thankfully, they offer a single lift pass for a full-day for 5,000 yen. Use it for all 52 lifts, gondolas, and ropeways. You also have to pay a small 500-yen deposit, but you get it back when you return your IC card lift pass. A half-day pass costs 4,200 yen and some resorts also offer night passes.
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.
The northernmost resort, it has excellent snow quality. It is best for intermediate/advanced-level skiers and snowboarders and isn’t too crowded.
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 the resorts that hosted events in Nagano’s Olympics.
This is actually two resorts: Ichinose Family and Ichinose Diamond Ski Fields. Together, they make up a major area for accommodations 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.
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.
1 Day Tour: Snow Monkeys & Snow Fun in Shiga Kogen: This 1-day 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 an included lunch, 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.
For more options, see our guide to skiing and snowboarding near Tokyo.
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