Shiga Kogen Beer 志賀高原ビール

A local craft beer brewery in Yamanouchi Area

shiga-kogen-beer-on-tap

shiga-kogen-beer-3

So Shiga Kogen has once won a prestigious status amongst all the domestic ski resorts because,

  1. It hosted some of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics races
  2. Being one of the largest area for skiing with 19 resorts combined
  3. The location was used for filming a hugely popular movie in the 80s, when skiing was so popular

With that prestigious name as the brand, Shiga Kogen Beer has been around for quite many years.

Tamamura Honten 玉村本店 is the brewer of that legendary beer, based in this region, Kutsuno right across Shibu Onsen.

shiga-kogen-beer-logo-1

Duration: 2 hours round trip on foot from Yudanaka Station, including the time to enjoy a pint of beer

Tamamura Honten

Tamaura Honten is originally a Sake maker, founded in 1805, and have been producing Sake for more than 200 years at the same location!

Then in 2005, they have started brewing beer and selling those, which became “Shiga Kogen Beer”.

Also, apparently this region once produced hops to make beer until 1950s.

So using local pure water, locally grown hops with the knowledge and Sake making kind of started this beer.

Tamamura Honten Website (Unfortunately available only in Japanese)

tamamura-honten-1tamamura-honten-2

The Location 

It’s only 10 min walk from Shibu Onsen, up on the hill of Kutsuno, you can get to their main store.

First you will come across this brewery after walking a gentle uphill.

shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-1shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-2shiga-kogen-beer-brewery-3

You keep turn left on the street and go further 30m or so then you’ll find their main office/store/gallery on your right.

Once inside, you’ll find retail section, a bar counter, and the gallery upstairs.

tamamura-honten-bar-counter

They have Sake and Beer tasting. When I went there a pint of beer on tap was ¥648.

I tried their IPA, Indian Pale Ale, on tap and that was beautiful.

Where else do you find their beer?

As far as I have seen, there are numerous local restaurants and liquor stores around Yudanaka who stock this brand. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to find.

usually the bottle is for ¥600, which is reasonable for a craft beer I think.

They do have an online store too. However, they seem to have the Japanese site only and it will be a good challenge to navigate through for purchase if you don’t read the language.

Give me a private mail if you need help. See what I can do.

If you like fresh beer and the smell of brewery, 2 hours well spent!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Biru Wa Oisii Desu ビールは美味しいです = Beer tastes good!

Who can argue with that! A Killer phrase to learn!

 

 

Ryuoo Ski Park 竜王スキーパーク

Ryuoo Ski Park Up Close

ryuoo-ski-park-main-building

Today’s Phrase

Ryuoo Ski Park 竜王スキーパーク = Pronounced as more like Liu-Oh

I know this is very hard for lots of people, but you gotta try!

 

What kind of mountain is Ryuoo?

This mountain/resort is made up with 2 parts.

Valley Area and Skyland Area.

And they are connected by Ropeway and Kiotoshi courses in between, being a very steep terrain only ideal for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Also, Kiotoshi 木落し stands for “Tree Falling“, meaning “So steep that even trees fall off the face” (My translation)

Please be aware that these Kiotoshi courses tend to open up well into January due to the nature of the terrain hard to accumulate snow.

Valley Area – Lower part

ryuoo-v8-chairlift

6 Chailfts, wide open long trails, mostly gentle incline.

Along V2 Lift you have some more speed with steeper terrain.

There are some “Ungroomed” space left near V2 Lift and V10 Lift for you to enjoy some powder.

The Top part of Valley Area has V5 Lift with steeper runs, but they don’t seem to open early in the season.

The reasons being,

  1. Steeper so no groomer vehicle goes there
  2. Therefore in need of wait for the accumulation of enough natural snowfall for safety

Skyland Area – Upper Part

ryuoo-s1-chairlifttrees-with-snow

2 Chairlifts, 3 Trails

The view from the upper part, (The highest point being at around 1930m or over 6000 feet) Skyland Area is superb on a clear day.

Also being higher in altitude, the snow tends to be drier and softer than Valley Area most of the times.

At the same time the temperature is a lot colder than what it is at the lower part of the mountain so be prepared to get in colder climate.

Oh and quite often it’s in the clouds with lower visibility.

The terrain is definitely for beginners to intermediate.

There are 2 restaurants, right above the top ropeway station at at the very top of the mountain off S1 Lift so you have somewhere to rush in if it’s too cold for you.

At those restaurants, mainly you find Japanese food like Japanese curry and ramen and so on.

Some Useful Links

– Link to their English Website

– This is the link to one of my past related post Let’s go skiing!

The Location

Free Shuttle

They run every 1-1.5 hour between Yudanaka Station and Ryuoo Ski Park.

It only takes 15-20moin to get to the resort.

The first one top depart Yudanaka is just after 9am, the last one to depart Ryuoo is just after 5pm.

It departs from right in front of Yudanaka Station.

Lift Passes

Half Day: Morning 8am-1pm, Afternoon 12pm-5pm, Adult ¥3400, Kids (4 y/o to 12 y/o) ¥2200

1 Day: Adult ¥4500, Kids ¥2900

2 days: Adult ¥8000, Kids ¥5100

Rentals

Half Day: Morning 8am-1pm, Afternoon 12pm-5pm, same as the lift passes, Adult ¥3500, Kids ¥2000

1 Day: Adult ¥4000, Kids ¥2500

2 days: Adult ¥7500, Kids ¥4500

If you are staying in yudanaka, one idea is to go see the guys at Yudanaka Rental/Info Centre right behind Goen restaurant.

You can get yourself set up with gear even the day before you head up the mountain.

That’ll be a good time-saver for you to be prepared the day before, rather than rushing for everything in the morning, with a possibility of waiting if they get busy.

I hope you will enjoy your time up on this mountain, and snow too!

See you next time.

 

 

 

How to find Nagaden @ Nagano Station

Changing trains at Nagano Station to get to Yudanaka

Nagaden train at Yudanaka Station.jpg

It’s pretty simple.

If you’ve arrived at Nagano Station by one of those JR line, like Shinkansen=Bullet Train, head out to the Zenkouji Exit 善光寺口 first.

You should be able to find one of many signs pointing directions which way Zenkouji Exit is.

Once you found which way you need to go to, go downstairs then you’ll see these to your right.

 

There is a Starbucks and the bus terminal once outside on this side of the station.

Also, along the fence to the bus terminal to the right, you find,

A convenience store – Daily Yamazaki

A Soba Noodle Shop

Then go downstairs again then you’ll be at the entrance and ticket counter for Nagaden

Once you get here, it’s for ¥1260, just under an hour away to Yudanaka, the gateway to Snow Monkey.

From here to Yudanaka, you can refer to my previous post for more detail,

How to get to Yudanaka Part 3

I hope you can have a smooth transfer at Nagano Station!

See you next time!

Today’s Phrase

Michi Ni Mayor Mashita 道に迷いました = I’m lost

Hmm… Not ideal but you could be in this situation so listen and practise!

 

Let’s go skiing! (or snowboarding if you like… I’m a skier…)

The closest ski resort from Yudanaka

So, let’s say, you’ve got 2-3 days booked at an accommodation around Yudanaka.

Realistically you need half a day to go see monkeys.

You happened to be here during winter months.

What else would you do?

I definitely would go skiing or snowboarding!

From Yudanaka, the closest resort, technically, is Ryuoo Ski Park 竜王スキーパーク

This is the link to their website. At the top right on their main page, you find the language choice icons.

I’ll show you where that is on Google Map.

It’s 15-20 min drive or on the bus.

They have free shuttle services throughout the day during the season.

1, Their season usually is between late November through to Early May. Of course it is depending on the snowfall each year.

2, Their free shuttle normally leaves around 9 am to begin with, then the last bus leaves the resort after 5pm. For more information, please visit their website through the link put above.

Another drawcard of this resort is their plans dedicated to non skiers and snowboarders, or a family who are looking for fun to have together.

They have 2 plans or activities called, “Snow Landscape Plan” and “Adventure Park”

  • Snow Landscape Plan – This is the plan for those who’d like to visit their “Sora Terrace”, situated at 1770m above sea level with magnificent view of the nearby basin and The Japanese Alps afar when it’s clear. Once you’ve arrived at the resort, they take you up to the bottom ropeway station on a “Snow Vehicle” which resembles a tank for 10-15 min ride. Then you can take 8 min ropeway ride to the top where the terrace is, with a restaurant is just above you to stay warm on a cold day.
  • Adventure Park – This is where you can have fun playing on the snow doing stuff like, Tubing, Sledding or Tobogganing, Snow rafting and so on. This is ideal for those who wouldn’t want to go on skis or snowboard but still want some action for adrenalin rush. However, this park will start its operation once they’ve got enough snow to manage all activities safely. So you want to check its condition first before you get too excited about it.

They also offer ski or snowboard lesson in English and Chinese for those who want to give these sports a go or are eager to brush up your skills.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy your experience regardless of your choice of how.

Make sure to drop into an Onsen and soak it up for your tired muscles to recover for next day!

-Today’s Phrase-

Ski Wa Totemo Tanoshii Desu スキーはとてもたのしいです = Skiing is such a fun!

Yeah skiing is awesome, make sure that you can say this!

How to get to Yudanaka Part 3

How to get to Yudanaka from Nagano

So this is the final leg to get to Yudanaka. You may have spent a few days in Nagano looking around visiting Znkouji temple 善光寺 or even ventured further to Matsumoto Castle 松本城.

There are 2  options for you.

That is,

  1. Catch a Nagaden 長電 train
  2. Catch a Nagaden 長電 bus

Here’s a google map to show you.

By Train

Fare: 1260 Yen (When you catch an express train which is faster and also there is only 100 yen difference from normal one so why wouldn’t you?)

Duration: 44min

By Bus

Fare: 1400 Yen

Duration: 41min

At last you have arrived at Yudanaka! Hope you enjoyed your journey along the way.

Well, the first thing first. Let’s get to your accommodation and jump straight into Onsen!

Have a good rest and get ready for the next day to get to see Snow Monkey!

-Today’s Phrase-

Yudanaka Wa Tokyo Yorimo Samui Desu ゆだなかはとうきょうよりもさむいです = Yudanaka is colder than Tokyo

Brrr… It’s chillier than Tokyo… Make sure to dress up for the weather!

How to get to Yudanaka Part 2

From Tokyo to Nagano by Bullet Train

So now you’ve spent a few days in Tokyo doing all the touristy stuff. Did you make sure to visit Shinjuku? I’m just saying this because I love that town!

Anyway, the easiest and fastest way to get to Nagano from Tokyo is by catching a bullet train. However, there are some buses to get to Nagano too. I will explain that later in another post too.

I’ve got a few reasons to recommend this to you rather than buses because,

  • My impression is that Shinkansen=Bullet Train in Japanese, has more room around your legs than usual Economy class seats on airplanes
  • You don’t get affected by traffic jam like you do on buses
  • It’s so clean inside
  • It’s simply amazing how fast these trains go

So here’s the detail to get to Nagano 長野駅 by bullet train 長野新幹線.

The straight distance between Tokyo Station and Nagano Station is about 180km.

I leave a google map here for you.

Fare: 8200 Yen for unreserved seat/Adult

Duration: 1:30 min

Departs pretty much every 15 min

Max Speed: 260km (Between Takasaki Station and Nagano Station, apparently!)

Here’s another thing that benefits you to know.

If you are already in the northern part of Tokyo, you may as well head up to Ohmiya 大宮 to catch these, rather than heading back south to get to Tokyo Station. That will save your time.

If you are staying near Shibuya 渋谷, Shinjuku 新宿, Ikebukuro 池袋 and so on, simply catch either,

  • Saikyo Line 埼京線

Or

  • Shonan Shinjukun Line 湘南新宿ライン

(Here’s a link for you to the JR East’s PDF Routes&Map around Tokyo and Surrounding Area)

So enjoy your fast ride on a bullet train and I’ll see you at Nagano Station.

-Today’s Phrase-

Soredewa Suguni Oai Shimasho それでは すぐに おあいしましょう = I’ll see you shortly

Listen and practice. yes you can do it!

 

 

How to get to Yudanaka Part 1

From Narita Airport to Tokyo Station

So once you’ve flown to Narita Airport. There are 3 ways to get to Tokyo Station, one of the largest train station in Japan, where you will catch a connecting bullet train, also known as Shinkansen 新幹線 to Nagano.

Note: It is about 70km between the airpot and Tokyo Station. Taxis are not a realistic option. They will cost you a lot of money and not recommended!

I’ve just mentioned of 3 ways of getting there. 1 is by bus, the others are by train.

  1. Airport Limousine Bus
  2. JR Narita Express
  3. JR Access Narita Bus

1, Airport Limousine Bus

They have a network of buses connecting the airport and Tokyo and the surrounding area. Most of the times during the day they have a bus departing to one destination every 20-30min.

Here is the link to their website:  Airport Limousine Bus

Adult Fare: 3100 Yen (Kids Half Price)

Duration: 75-125 min depending on the road conditions

You will find their counter once you walk out of the customs, before you walk out of the terminal building..

2, JR Narita Express

This is run by JR East (Japan Railway East). It’s a lot quicker and I personally prefer this to the bus. Just a personal opinion.

The Link: Narita Express

Adult Fare: 3020 Yen

Duration: 60-70 min

You should find their counter right next to the buses.

3, JR Access Narita Bus

This is kind of a new service, (I personally have not used this service yet but I know a fee friends who were happy with this) and just like airlines, this is a LCC, in other words CHEAPER!

You don’t need to buy a ticket in advance, you just pay when you get on board a bus. That’s different!

The Link: Access Narita

Adult Fare: 1000 Yen

Duration: 80-100 min

So have a good night sleep in Tokyo after a long flight, and I’ll see you on the next post to get to Nagano.

-Today’s Phrase-

Tokyo Wa Sugoi Desu とうきょうはすごいです = Tokyo is awesome!

Listen and practise. Yeah Tokyo is amazeballs!

Mata-Ne またね (See you again)!

How to get to Yudanaka, Summary

Tokyo to Yudanaka Station

In this post, I’d love to give you the overall picture of how to get to Yudanaka from when you’ve arrived at Narita Airport (which is not even in Tokyo to be strict!).

Then later, I will break it down to several blocks and explain to you further in detail.

So here’s the breakdown of how you get to Yudanaka.

Let’s say you have arrived at Narita Airport.

Then,

  1. To Tokyo Station 東京駅
  2. To Nagano 長野駅
  3. To Yudanaka 湯田中駅

Of course there must be lots of variations in how you want to organise your trip, like you are spending some time in Tokyo for a few days first and so on.

But principally these 3 steps will be what you are going through to get there from Tokyo.

The detailed posts will follow on each step for your further understanding to be planning your trip to this area.

Part 1 Narita Airport to Tokyo Station

Part 2 Tokyo To Nagano

Part 3 Nagano To Yudanaka

I hope this will clear up a lot of your questions!

-Today’s Phrase-

Yudanaka Ni Ikitai Desu ゆだなかにいきたいです = I want to go to Yudanaka.

Listen to this and practice. Now you can say where you want to go!