We arrived at Nagano by shinkansen from Tokyo and had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to Shiga.
In hind sight we should have checked the bus schedule. The sun was out in Nagano but the temp was well below freezing. By the time we were dropped off at Ichinose (Y1800 bus fare) it was a white out.
Dragging luggage thru a heavy snowfall was a chore. Thankfully our hotel was near the stop.
Ichinose was well located with respect to the best slopes at Shiga, namely Yakibitai, Okushiga, Terakoya, anything down from Higashitate and Nishitate. The other ski fields we went to were at Yokote but thats at least an hour on the ski bus each way! It's a worth while visit and you can easily spend a whole day there.
When we were there the clouds rolled in and it was difficult skiing at the summit in the white out. The restaurant we had lunch at was simply fabulous. They even provide lodging there. But whoever would stay at the summit would have to depend on the lifts operating.
Fortunately it cleared at lower levels and the heavy fresh snow made for great skiing down the few black slopes.
The week we were there we had only one day when the snowfall was too heavy for skiing. We had bought 5 day super pass lift tickets and any valid ski lift pass allows you free rides on the ski bus including to Yudanaka for the snow monkeys.
The slopes at Shiga are generally not steep and therefore, easy to ski on.
Shiga is well suited for beginners and intermediates and those not wanting too much of an adrenaline rush. One point to note, most ski lifts involve some traversing except for those familiar with the area and know to maintain speed to get on.
Ichinose is by far the busiest with large school groups. We found better and cleaner snow elsewhere as mentioned above. There was hardly anyone at Yokote.
We have been skiing in Europe, NZ and Australia and Shiga as a whole looked deserted in comparison. It's a wonder they can still make a living here!
We stayed at Sankt Moritz which was ok. The food was great but the management was not welcoming nor enthusiastic about why we were there in the first place (skiiing duhh).
We were told others such as Chu is better. Others recommended Alpenberg in the Nishitate/ Giant area.
The apres ski was mostly 'bring your own' and have it in your small cramped room! There is no shortage of fridge space on our window/ balcony.
Our one night out was to Grand Phenix Hotel in Okushiga, some 5 km from Ichinose. That was simply devine but at a price. Great Italian restaurant and a fabulous lounge with a central open fireplace and floor to ceiling glass walls. This is the place to bring your loved one for that special evening together.
Shiga Kogen is easily the most beautiful ski area we have been to (and we have been to a number of beautiful ski areas such as Courchevel and Chamonix in our time) but you have to love skiing as there is not much else here.
From 10 January, 2009 To 16 January, 2009
Snow condition on visit:
Over 140 cm at Ichinose and up to 30 cm of fresh snow every second or third day
Things I liked:
Beautiful tree lined snow terrain and large ski area