The Definitive Guide To Japan: Shiga Kogen

Lots of resorts, even more monkeys

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As the saying goes “everything is big in Japan” and in the context of Japanese ski areas, Shiga Kogen is the biggest, boasting 21 ride-able resorts all on the one pass, hold onto it tight though because the monkeys have sticky fingers around here. This place is renowned for them and the snow-loaded trees aptly named ‘snow monsters’. If you’re looking to film your next video part, this probably isn’t the place for you instead Shiga favours those looking to ride more playful, forgiving terrain that allows them to hone their powder riding skills and experience a traditional Japanese resort.

Photo Andrew Fawcett

Introducing the Experts

Quentin Nolan

Few westerners have the knowledge of Japan’s snow covered regions like Quentin Nolan. Which is why he started his own booking company Liquidsnow and has been pointing people in the direction of powder for some time now.

According to the Experts

What attracted you to ride this part of Japan?
It is a unique Japanese ski resort that has not changed much since the beginning (1980), it offers the largest combined ski area in Japan and you will pretty much have it to yourself. Quentin Nolan

Top places to ride in the region when the snow is on?
Okushigakogen is one of the only areas that allows you to get amongst the trees and because it’s located at the far north end of the resort it doesn’t get the crowds. Quentin Nolan

Top things to do when it’s not?
Visit the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can see the monkeys bathing in the onsens and while you’re at it visit nearby Shibu Onsen to have an onsen yourself. Quentin Nolan

Akakura Onsen, Myoko / Photo Juha Laine

What type of conditions do you need for an epic day on the mountain here?
Most runs are groomed and unpopulated so you can have fun in almost all conditions. Shiga is also much higher than most resorts on Honshu, so when nearby resorts at Nozawa, Myoko or Hakuba is copping the occasional rain, it is usually snowing in Shiga. – Quentin Nolan

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone heading to ride here?
Don’t expect much in the form of après and you won’t be disappointed, and shut your windows or the monkeys will get in. Quentin Nolan

What’s your travel hack tip to getting here?
Get the Nagano Snow Shuttle if you’re arriving in the evening. Get the bullet train and local bus if you’re arriving earlier in the day. The shuttle drops you at your door and picks you up, so this is the easiest option. Quentin Nolan

Best place to stay for a weary snowboarder?
Ichinose area, it’s well connected as it’s in the middle of the resort and has the only public bar in Shiga, The Chalet Shiga. Quentin Nolan

Any last local secrets you care to share?
Stock up on some supplies before arriving in Shiga if you can, there isn’t even a convenience store here, so it’s hard to purchase anything. Quentin Nolan

Will Jackways / Photo Keats

Hit List

If I earned my turns I’d go here …
Skip over to nearby Nozawa or Myoko Quentin

If I had a briefcase full of cash I’d make sure I’d …
Okushiga Kogen Hotel, the emperor used to stay here Quentin

I couldn’t leave my kids at home so I took them riding at …
Yakebitaiyama – Quentin

Sometimes I feel like cutting a few park laps so I head to …
Kurohime Kogen Snow Park, it’s a whole park and is half an hour away – Quentin

I’ve got the need for speed, where’s those long groomers at …
Ichinose – Quentin

According to the stats

Annual Average Snowfall: 10m
Number of Resorts: 21
Terrain Parks: 2
Longest Run: 6km
Ability Terrain Mix:
Beginner:  30%
Intermediate: 40%
Advanced: 30%
Season Start: Late November
Season End: Early May

Nick Gregory

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