Ski Resort Shigakogen Mountain Resort on Honshu: Position on map

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Official review by Snow-Online.com
      Overall score:
      77 / 100

      Where the snow monkeys roam

      Shiga Kogen (which means “Shiga Highlands”) is a sprawling ski area made up of no less than 19 (mostly) interconnected ski resorts of varying sizes. The ski area hugs the north-western edge of the beautiful Joshinetsu National Park – an area known for its arresting natural beauty and wild snow monkeys. If you’re lucky (as we were) you might even catch a glimpse of these pretty primates by the side of the runs as you ski down. If not, you can still head down to the world-renowned Jigokudani Monkey Park at the bottom of the valley towards Yudanaka for a glimpse of the monkeys soaking in the hot springs on the edge of the forest.

      An Olympic history

      Shiga Kogen is the self-proclaimed largest winter resort in Japan, though there appears to be some dispute about whether it is actually trumped by Niseko in terms of hectares of terrain. The resort offers some 980 metres of vertical and over 80 kilometres of groomers. The ski area tops out at a respectable 2,307 metres, making it the second highest ski area in the country. Shiga Kogen played host to the slalom, giant slalom and snowboarding events at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games. However, its winter sports pedigree dates back much further with a ski club being established here as early as 1920. In 1929, a group of Norwegian skiers came to visit and memorably labelled the area as the “St. Moritz of Asia”. The boom in the popularity of skiing in 1970s Japan saw a great deal of development shape the resorts here into the large interconnected ski region it has become today.

      19 interconnected resorts

      The ski area spans a long valley running north-south from Yokoteyama in the south to Okushigakogen in the north. All of the resorts to the north of Maruike and Sun Valley are interlinked – i.e. Okushigakogen, Yakebitaiyama, Ichinose, Tanne, Takamagahara Mammoth, Higashidateyama, Terakoya, Nishidateyama, Hoppo Bunadaira, Giant and Hasuike. Exploring the two main areas to the south – Kumanoyu and Yokoteyama – will definitely require riding the shuttle bus down the valley, as they are unreachable on piste. This interconnected layout definitely gives the ski area a European flavour, and it’s a truly exhilarating feeling exploring from one area into the next.

      The valley is linked to the outside world by a connecting road which joins the ski area in Maruike, a resort which also forms the central hub of Shiga Kogen in terms of transport and administration. Regular buses up to Maruike depart from Yudanaka station, which is around half an hour to the north-east of the former Olympic host city Nagano, as well as from Nagano itself.

      Value for Money