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!

Zenkoji Temple 善光寺

Must-See temple in Nagano City

nagano-zenkouji-1

When you are in Nagano City, this is a must-see temple in this town.

As the map below shows, it’s 30min walk from Nagano station. Pretty straight forward to get there, with lots of signs on side walks pointing the direction towards there.

There are nice cafes, souvenir shops and so on along the way so it will be a nice pleasant walk for you.

There are also buses to take you there too if you would prefer that way.

Zenkoji Temple 善光寺

Here’s the Link to TripAdvisor Review.

It says “#1 Attraction out of 113 in Nagano City”.

So I’m not the only one saying that.

For ¥500, you can also go inside the main temple building and some other places.

nagano-zenkouji-6nagano-zenkouji-16nagano-zenkouji-14nagano-zenkouji-10
The Difference Between Buddhisma and Shinto in Japan

Buddhism was born in India then brought to China then imported and introduced to Japan in the 6th century. Temples are for Buddhism.

Shinto is a native belief of Japan, I don’t even know how long there has been within Japanese culture… Since… Ages ago. Shirines represent Shinto.

Realistically these 2 different beliefs have been happily married and morphed into one, and engraved within Japanese culture so it is quite often very hard for Japanese people themselves to disguish these two.

History

Its history seems a little obscured by the long history since the origin.

Here’s the Link To Wikipedia in English for those who love to find out about this place more.

Basically it was originally built in 644AD in a lot smaller scale.

Then through centuries of wars it went through getting burned down so many times, the present structure was rebuilt 1707 and been there since.

Yes, in Medieval Age there were lots of wars in Japan for power and land and food.

Important Tip for visiting temples and shrines in Japan

It is highly advised to do a bit of homework or research to learn the history of what entails to the place you are visiting. Especially when you visit temples and shrines, they will be just another “Wooden Structure” if you don’t know the stories behind them.

I had a few occasions in the past personally, feeling like I’m just looking at another temple or shrine when I didn’t know the history behind them.

Quite often, there are some powerful warlords who built or had influences on the beginning, wars amongst clans and so on.

Anyway, when you are there keep your eyes on

1, Traditional Japanese wooden structural engineering
2, Tidiness and neatness of the surrounding garden
3, How Japanese people behave within these tradional places

Hope you will enjoy your experience there!See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Nihon No Otera Ya Jinjya Ga Daisuki Desu 日本のお寺や神社が大好きです = I love Japanese temples and shrines

Keep on Trying! People will be impressed!

Let’s talk about getting naked in public. I’m talking about Onsen!

So another main attraction of this area is,

Lots of Onsen 温泉.

Hot springs, it is. Not for shy, faint-hearted individuals.

Why? Because you have to be NAKED in front of other people!

There are 8 areas with lots of small hot springs in them around Yudanaka.

There is a good introduction to Onsen etiquettes in Japan on TripAdvisor.

The first tip is

  • You need a big towel (to dry your body after getting out of bath)
  • A small towel (to wash your body
  • A change of cloth
  • Everything else you think you need after bath (like a body lotion and so on)

You normally find at Onsen premises

  • Shampoo and Soap or Body Soap
  • Sometimes a cheap razor
  • A hair dryer
  • You can hire a towel at most of the places too for like several hundred yen if you don’t have one with you

Once inside, basically,

  • No Swimwear or clothing
  • Wash your body first before you get in the hot water
  • No small towel (called Tenugui 手拭い) in the water
  • You also use that towel to wash/scrub your body
  • NO ALCOHOL BEVERAGE inside Onsen

Also,

  • You normally pay at the entrance or should find a ticket vending machine
  • Normally a cold beverage vending machine
  • If you are lucky, Beer vending machine (So nice to have one after getting in Onsen)
  • Remember not to stay in hot water too long or you may pass out (I’m not kidding! I’ve seen this a few times myself!)
  • No go when you are heavily intoxicated (or you could be putting yourself at risk of a serious harm to yourself)

It could be daunting for some to be naked in front of other people, but hey, it’s so nice particularly after a day’s skiing in winter!

One fact to share with you here: People are not actually paying attention to you as much as you think they do (Or at least inside Men’s Onsen…)

Good luck and hope you’ll enjoy your experience!

-Today’s Phrase-

Onsen ga daisuki desu おんせんがだいすきです = I love hot springs!

Keep on keeping on! You are getting better now!