Long Weekend Trip to Celebrate the Snow Season at One of Japan’s Biggest Ski Resort! SHIGA KOGEN – NAGANO

Shiga Kogen Nagano, mountains, snow Hidden places in Japan

In 2020, Japan Wonder Travel was given a project by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to promote 14 selected prefectures that have been affected by typhoons. We offered multiple internationals living in Japan, the opportunity to travel to several destinations and share their experiences about the trip.

Deri – Nagano prefecture

I am M.Deri Laksamana Putra, Indonesian who works as product customer experience in Tokyo-Japan. Loves hiking, bouldering and eating.

I was so excited when Japan Wonder Travels’ collaboration project with the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan (METI) told me I got the opportunity to travel to Shiga Kogen – Nagano and share my experiences while traveling to promote 1 of 14 selected prefectures that have been affected by typhoons last year in 2019.

This is my first time to visit Nagano prefecture. Nagano – Shiga Kogen is located in the highlands of Nagano prefecture and one of Japan’s biggest ski resort areas, with 18 interconnected ski resorts all accessible with one lift pass. The resort was the site of several sports events in the Nagano Winter Olympics 1998. There are more than 100 hotels in the area, with Japanese style, western style or semi-Japanese style rooms.

The Shiga Kogen area is high altitude and has consistently great snow conditions in the winter. With over 80 kilometers of ski slopes and 70 lifts, the resort is great for all levels of skier/snowboarder. Shiga Kogen is also famous for hot spring (onsen) bathing and also, the amazing experience of riding a snowcat pisten bully to the top of Yokoteyama mount is a definite must-see and try.

What To Do In Shiga Kogen?

Stayed in the Resort – Shiga Palace Hotel.

I stayed here for one night. This hotel provided me a semi-Japanese style room with a bigger room size, I think it was enough for more than five persons, but this room was occupied only by me. It is located at the top of the mountain area.

Snow Monster Night Tour in Shiga Kogen.

After the check-in to the hotel, I was going to the meeting point at the Akari Restaurant at the base of Yokoteyama Ski Resort, the tour took place from 4pm to 7pm. From the restaurant, I took a bus up the mountain before switching to a snowcat for the rest of the journey. The sleek, red pisten bully is equipped with a large cabin that can accommodate up to 20 people, with a warm interior and plenty of windows. The snowcat climbs the main run of Mt. Yokote before turning onto the Shiga-Kusatsu Route, which connects Yamanouchi and Kusatsu Onsen during the summer months. It passes beautiful views around the Nozoki area before reaching Shibu Pass and the top of Mt. Yokote. Around 3 hours trip riding snowcat monster at night, cost me 4,800 JPY. Reserved Snow Monster tour.

Refresh your body and relax your mind in Hotaru Onsen / Hotspring.

This onsen is located in Shiga Palace Hotel. I can say this onsen is part of the facilities of the resort. This hot spring bath is available for guests 24 hours a day. It is a 100% pure natural hot spring from Hotaru Onsen (source of hot spring water in the area).

It’s time for skiing!

Shiga Kgen Ski

The ski area in Shiga-Kogen is opened around late November to early May usually. The quality of the snow is also really good. The area has 15 lifts and 20 ski slopes with 60% of the ski slopes for beginners, 20% for intermediate and 20% for experts. The ski slopes in this area have an incline ranging from 6° up to 33° on some of the expert routes. Compared to the other two areas, it doesn’t offer much size-wise. However, the ski slopes are longer for those who can ski/snowboard at a higher level and the view is just great.

I have tried a half-day ski-in Yokoteyama ski resort and start from Akari chairlift it cost 4,800JPY for half day ticket, and it takes 5 mins to walk from Shiga palace hotel. Before that, I need to rent my ski gear, Shiga palace hotel provide the speed, and if you need to store your rentals, they have provided ski or snowboard equipment lockers for free. After half-day ski, it’s really good to onsen time, refreshed and relieves tension, muscular pain, joint pain, shoulder aches.

Food recommendation 1

On day one of my trip, I was having lunch at Yamanoeki restaurant and tried Mushroom soba for the first time. The taste was good, with the price starting from 900JPY – 1,500JPY. Besides that, the restaurant view from Yamanoeki restaurant was amazing. My dinner was a buffet in the hotel. You should try having lunch at Yamanoeki station with an amazing view.

Food recommendation 2

On day two of my trip, I had a late lunch at the MiDoRi building nearby Nagano station and the restaurant name is Sauce katsudon Meiji bower. It was good and tasty trying beef tongue after 4 hours of skiing in Shiga Kogen. It costs around 2,800JPY.

How to Get to Shiga Kogen From Tokyo?

By Train from Tokyo (Shinkansen)

1. From Tokyo Station to Nagano Station take the Hokuriku Shinkansen (1hr 50min). Transfer at Nagano Station to the Nagaden express train going to Yudanaka Station (45min) and take the Nagaden bus to Hotaru onsen (Suzurikawa) bus stop. That’s the last stop of the bus and just in front of the Hotel. (1min)

2. From Tokyo Station to Nagano Station take the Hokuriku Shinkansen it cost you 8,340JPY with reserved seat (1hr 50min) follow Nagano Station East Exit you can also take a direct bus going to Hotaru Onsen (Suzurikawa) Bus stop. There are two direct bus schedules – Leaving Nagano Station East Exit at 9:05 a.m. and arriving Hotaru onsen 10:30 a.m. Next schedule is 12:40 p.m. arriving 14:05 p.m. it cost 2,100JPY(Schedule may change)

Also you can take the bus from Nagano Station East Exit to Yamanoeki station it cost 1,800JPY, from Yamanoeki station we can used free shuttle bus. Shuttle buses operate between the villages, which are complimentary if you have a lift pass. Shuttle timetables are available from some accommodations, the Hasuike Information Centre, the Nagano Information Centre, or on the bus stops. The free shuttles operate from 8:30am to about 17:30, and a paid evening bus goes until about 8:30pm.

So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s see unique winter scenery at the top of Japan’s largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen – Nagano

Hotel he stayed during the trip

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We were very excited to work with Deri-san, and all the other guests for this project, and will continue to do our best to promote the less known destinations as much as we can. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram to find another project with us.
And of course, if you need any help to find hidden gems in Japan, Japan Wonder Travel will happily help you out.

Happy travelling!

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