Shiga Kogen 志賀高原

The largest ski area in Japan

shiga-kogen-from-yomase
Looking afar towards Shiga Kogen from Yomase, Mt Kosha. In there right centre, Yokoteyama and in the left centre, Oku Shiga Kogen Ski Area

So in this map, “Shiga Kogen Ski Area” covers from,

Yokoteyama Shibutouge in the south to Oku Shiga Kogen in the north.

So some locals here say that Shiga Kogen is the last secret in terms of skiing destinations within Japan, that has been kept to Japanese for a long time.

This place hosted some of the competitions during the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.

And also some of the locations were used for the mega hit Japanese movie themed on young city people going to Shiga Kogen for skiing and love story revolved around in it.

But in these days everyone all over the world is quickly finding out of its existence and reputation.

But, at the same time, for some reasons that I don’t really understand, this area does not seem to be too pro-active nor positive about opening its doors to the world.

That fact is causing lots of overseas visitors with lack of information about the area as well as inconvenience throughout their experiences when you are there.

So my aim here is to give you the very basics of this place.

Here are some useful links:

Shiga Kogen English website

Reviews on TripAdvisor

Despite the facts I mentioned above, overall, visitors in the past were having good times by the look on their reviews on TripAdvisor.

Facts:

  • The largest Ski Area in Japan, 425ha or  just over 1000Acre
  • Total lengths of trails = 80000m
  • Total of 50 chairlifts and gondolas
  • 19 resorts, 16km wide
  • One pass to go through all the resorts
  • The elevation between 1300m – 2300m
  • Usually open from early Dec – Early May

How to get there:

yudanaka-bus-stop-2

There isn’t a shuttle services or anything organised by Shiga Kogen as the time of writing in Jan, 2017. That means you have to catch one of those public buses as described below.

Buses: Nagaden Bus from Yudanaka Station

There are only 3 buses in the morning that depart from the station.

7:40am, 8:20am and 10:15am

yudanaka-bus-timetable4-001Fare: ¥1100

Duration: 30-60 min depending on which resort you want to get off

At the same time, there are lots of hotels and as such within Shiga Kogen so it may be a good idea to find a room on the mountain if your focus is to spend as much time on the snow as possible.

Once there:

They have a RFID system, that means you use a crd to have an access to any lifts on the mountain. Once you’ve paid for all mountain pass, you can go through any lifts within Shiga Kogen.

At the time of writing, the lift pass for all mountain is:

Adult:¥5000, Student: ¥4200 (I believe you need to show your Student ID), Child: ¥2500 (0-12yo)

There are some English-Speaking ski schools/rentals and accomodations, in particular Oku-Shiga way.

Hopefully you’ve got a good momentum going to find out about Shiga Kogen.

Let me know by commenting if you have anything in particular that you want to find out, I will do my best for you.

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Docchi No Sukijyou Ni Ikimashouka? どっちのスキー場に行きましょうか? = Which ski field should we go?

This is a tough one! Listen and practice!

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.

 

 

 

The best way to go see the Snow Monkey

Between Yudanaka and Jigokudani Monkey Park

The best recommendation: Catching a bus to the park then walk back to Yudanaka. 3-4 Hours.

So once you’ve arrived at Yudanaka Station 湯田中駅 by Nagaden 長電,

There are several ways to get to Jigokudani Monkey Park.

  1. Taxi
  2. Bus
  3. On Foot

1, By Taxi

yudanaka-taxi-standyudanak-taxi-fare

This is ideal if you are in a big group of friends or family.

The Fare: About ¥1600 (As the 2nd photo above shows)

The Duration: Around 10 min to the car park at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

2, By Bus

Once you arrive at the station, turn right once through the exit. Then you will find Nagaden Bus 長電バス counter and their timetables.

The Link to PDF File of Bus Timetable to Jigokudani Monkey Park 地獄谷野猿公苑

yudanaka-bus-stop-2

yudanaka-bus-timetable4-001

As shown on the photo above, those 4 lines in the yellow circle actually stops by at the monkey park, by way of Kanbayashi Onsen 上林温泉.

So there are in fact quite a few departing during the day.

The Fare: ¥310

The Duration: 15 min

3, On Foot

This is personal favourite. I walk everywhere. But at the same time it’s a bit far for a family with kids or in a big group. You also need a decent pair of walking shoes.

Note: During winter months, the road to Jigokudani Carpark 地獄谷駐車場 is closed due to the icy surface condition. You need to walk from Kanbayashi Onsen 上林温泉 way.

winter-closure-sign-to-monkey-park-1winter-clousure-to-monkey-park-2

This is a good day half day trip. It will take 1-1.5 hour to get to the park having a look around in Shibu Onsen.

Along the way you will see these signs often.

street-sign-to-monkey-park-1street-sign-to-yudanaka-station

So as long as you keep seeing this signs you are ok.

Several things to remember.

  • From Yudanaka to The Park it’s mainly uphill. From The Park back to Yudanaka, mainly downhill.
  • Don’t go through the closed road behind Shibu Onsen. Go round to Kanbayashi Onsen to get to the park. Don’t believe everything Google Map tells you.
  • It’s still a bit of way to monkeys once you get to the park entrance.
  • Carry water with you.

So now you have some information to help you to decide how you want to get to see Snow Monkeys.

I think it’s best to go see the Monkeys, then walk back wandering through the maze of small streets in Shibu.

I’ll see you next time, hope you have a good day of walking so the onset afterwards will feel twice better!

-Today’s Phrase-

Arukunoga Suki Desu あるくのがすきです = I like walking

Walking is very good for your health!

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 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)!