Skiing in Japan: Shiga Kōgen - Adventures of Anette

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 afar. 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 day time. 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: Blogpost from my visit to Jigokudani)
The ski season is long, and lasts from approximately the end of November till the first week of May. During the summer months the area is a nice destination for people who enjoy hiking.

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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'd gladly trade a trip to the shoppingmall for a hike in the forest any day.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette


The classical story about a girl who went for a one-year exchange program to Japan, fell in love and got stuck there. Starting out as a student in Kyoto in 2010 I now work full-time in Tokyo as a hotel consultant, and write mostly about my travels, working life in Japan as well as a bunch of random stuff.
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