Skiing in Japan: Shiga Kōgen - Vikingess Voyages

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Skiing in Japan: Shiga Kōgen

Japan has a number of famous places for people who enjoy winter sports like ski and snowboarding, and with its steep mountains and beautiful powder snow, it is a popular ski destination from people from near and far. One of the places well-known for people who enjoy winter activities is Shigakōgen in Nagano. With 21 ski resorts it is one of Japan's largest ski areas, and during the 1998 Nagano Olympics, a number of the games were hosted here.

We visited Shiga Kōgen during our previous sanrenkyū (three days consecutive holiday) and stayed at Hotel Berg, a traditional hotel with a history dating back to 1967. 
The hotel is located directly at one of the ski slopes, and the location is thus perfect for people who prefer to have easy access to all the fun. 

Yuma actually used to come here every year with his family as a kid, and the staff at the hotel remembered him from when he was a little boy.
Hotel Berg with the slope in the background
The fireplace
Inside the hotel, they have a large fireplace where you, for instance, can sit and enjoy a local Shiga Kōgen beer. They also have a large dining hall, and during our first day we enjoyed dinner here.

Hotel guests gathered for fun in the evening
There are also other interesting places in the vicinity to visit for a light meal during daytime. If you take the gondola to the top of Mount Higashidate (東館山) you find a small soba restaurant serving the famous variety of soba known as Shinshū soba (信州そば). Apparently, Shinshū is regarded by many as Japan's best soba. Personally, I'm not that good at telling the difference between a good and a lesser good soba. Still, after many hours out in the cold slope, it sure tastes good with a warm bowl of soba.
Shinshu Soba
Another place we stopped for a break between the action was another beautiful hotel situated in Okashiga Kōgen called the Grand Phoenix.
At the hotel, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a piece of cake in their cafe called Lunch Largo. The view from our seats was great, and definitely made the place worth a visit in itself.
Creamy chocolate
Cake @ Lunch Largo

The ski slope seen from the cafe
Lunch Largo
Of course, we spent most of the time in Shiga Kōgen out in the ski slopes. With a two-day pass to the lifts, we literarily had 滑り放題 (all-you-can-slide), which we utilized to its fullest. Both Yuma and his father have passed the 1級 of the スキー検定 (in Japan they usually have a test for almost anything measurable, and this is the test to measure your ski abilities), so I had to work hard to keep up with them.
All in all Shiga Kōgen was a very nice weekend destination. Unfortunately we didn't have the chance to see Nagano's famous bathing monkeys, but apparently they're not too far away from Shiga Kōgen so hopefully, we'll have the chance to take another trip and also visit Jigokudani, as it is supposed to be very close to Shiga Kōgen. (Update: Blog post from my visit to Jigokudani)
The ski season is long and lasts from approximately the end of November until the first week of May. During the summer months, the area is a nice destination for people who enjoy hiking.

For more information, please check out:

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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