Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort: Best on-snow lodge for beginners

Sandy

Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
Moderator
Ski Pass
Jan 1, 1998
71,065
31,268
1,515
Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
Some good tips as always Sandy thanks.

Forgetting borders and Covid, Neiseko would be just ‘a’ possibility, to consider if a friend keen on Hokkaido came along (it’s hard planning for oneself!)

I’ve looked at both areas via usual engines;

Neiseko seems to have a lot more choices of bedding - particular if one had a car and was prepared to drive for a few kms 3,5, maybe 10?). I haven’t checked bus routes from these outlying areas.
They look frankly are bit more sociable in a lovely Japanese way - not boosie Aussie! A little like some of the Canadian Rockies youth hostels I stayed in, 88/89.

I’ve looked through a few of the usual Ichinose locations. Many of them could work. If I end up on my own, then it’s fairly simple, although I didn’t do the Futon-Tatami experience at Hakuba - that would be new.

There’s a few pensions in Okushiga that look fairly nice - they climb into to $150+ p.night from memory. Plus food. (May be cheaper than eating at the hotel?).

The Okushiga Hotel looks nice enough but with will be over $200 p.n, $230 with breakfast, $280 ish with dinner, so it adds up. Would be nearly $400 p.d with a pass and lunches/ beverages.


Another factor: the later the borders / flights open, the fewer the accommodation choices and they’ll mostly be the dear end? Flights might soon get easier?

Anyway, I’m not panicking, it’s early (ish) days. As you say, a lot of bedding options only start 3 month out, so late Feb, will keep a while.

Naeba/Kagura is an interesting option - another friend liked Kagura. It appears there’s some open country higher up which appeals after the tight trees of Hakuba. I’ll check bed options there too. Senior tickets a bonus too! Cheers.
If there's no foreigners in January, it will not be super busy in February because it's no longer school holidays in Australia, so accommodation will not be on the expensive end.

If you want more "youth hostel" digs, you will end up with Japanese "minshuku" a small tatami room with futon, shared toilets and onsen only.
If you DO go to Niseko + a car, check out Niseko OAC lodge.... with a car, it's not the cheapest option for one person though.

There's some great bowls at the top of Kagura, and it's linked by a 5km gondola to Naeba. Kagura gets at least 50% more powder than Naeba, and it's not crowded on a week day. Back in 2019, there were huge numbers of Chinese at the Naeba Prince Hotel (a big ski in ski out 600 bed hotel complex, lockers 30m inside the door for skis & gear) ..... but 95% of them stuck to beginner & easy intermediate slopes.... you could ski powder lines 300m right out the front of the hotel!!! :D

Photos from my room at the Naeba Prince!!!! Mostly tracked out by night skiing time, but right in the middle, my group made ALL of those tracks after lunch!!!

P4350227.JPG



By the way, this would be a GREAT opening for the OP. @Wozzz

Super easy to get to, LOADS of beginner slopes right out the front of the Naeba Prince Hotel, English speaking lessons, and if the beginners get tired, they can just go back to the room and sleep for a while!!
Unlike the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel(s), the Naeba Prince has a lot of restaurants (and a walk into the village/town has more.... if you don't want to pay for the exy Prince breakfast, walk into the town and get some food for breakfast... fruit, cereal, milk, plastic bowls & spoons)

In fact, I'd say that the Naeba Prince is the IDEAL option for @Wozzz . You can leave the beginners for a while, head near the top on the gondola, ride the wide ungroomed powder run, and meet the beginners on your way down to the bottom.
 

Heinz

Fully vaccinated but nowhere to go
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
28,172
13,933
1,063
Adelaide
English language ski school - is there one at
  • Shiga Kogen?
  • Naeba/Kagura?
There are definitely ones at:
  • Niseko
  • Hakuba
  • Nozawa Onsen
  • Yuzawa
  • Myoko Kogen
  • Lotte Arai
  • Madarao
Where else?
I'm not the one to answer this as I tend to actively seek out the lesser known areas.

But I do recall a day back in 1987 at Shiga Kogen when a couple of us got the bus from Maruike to OkuShiga for the day. We were somewhat hungover from a night in an Izakaya with a bunch of locals when some guy spotted/heard us in the queue. He was an Australian ski instructor. In those days there were very few English speaking guests, so not much actual instructing work. He was just keen to have ski and chat with us, but he had to pretend that we were his clients in case his boss spotted him. Expectation was that if he wasn't instructing that he be doing other work, fixing ropes, shoveling snow etc.
 
  • Like
  • Haha
Reactions: snowgum and Sandy

Heinz

Fully vaccinated but nowhere to go
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
28,172
13,933
1,063
Adelaide
If there's no foreigners in January, it will not be super busy in February because it's no longer school holidays in Australia, so accommodation will not be on the expensive end.

If you want more "youth hostel" digs, you will end up with Japanese "minshuku" a small tatami room with futon, shared toilets and onsen only.
If you DO go to Niseko + a car, check out Niseko OAC lodge.... with a car, it's not the cheapest option for one person though.

There's some great bowls at the top of Kagura, and it's linked by a 5km gondola to Naeba. Kagura gets at least 50% more powder than Naeba, and it's not crowded on a week day. Back in 2019, there were huge numbers of Chinese at the Naeba Prince Hotel (a big ski in ski out 600 bed hotel complex, lockers 30m inside the door for skis & gear) ..... but 95% of them stuck to beginner & easy intermediate slopes.... you could ski powder lines 300m right out the front of the hotel!!! :D

Photos from my room at the Naeba Prince!!!! Mostly tracked out by night skiing time, but right in the middle, my group made ALL of those tracks after lunch!!!

P4350227.JPG



By the way, this would be a GREAT opening for the OP. @Wozzz

Super easy to get to, LOADS of beginner slopes right out the front of the Naeba Prince Hotel, English speaking lessons, and if the beginners get tired, they can just go back to the room and sleep for a while!!
Unlike the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel(s), the Naeba Prince has a lot of restaurants (and a walk into the village/town has more.... if you don't want to pay for the exy Prince breakfast, walk into the town and get some food for breakfast... fruit, cereal, milk, plastic bowls & spoons)

In fact, I'd say that the Naeba Prince is the IDEAL option for @Wozzz . You can leave the beginners for a while, head near the top on the gondola, ride the wide ungroomed powder run, and meet the beginners on your way down to the bottom.

Naeba was the very first place I skied at in Japan in 1986, just before Shiga Kogen.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sandy

mauricem

Addicted
Ski Pass
Jun 27, 2010
728
236
113
Sunshine Coast
Can anyone recommend another part of this ski resort we may be overlooking? Three or four-star would be ideal.
We stayed at Hotel Kuhls in Shiga a few years ago, great location at the base of a blue/green run lift and value but bit lacking in apre ambience. 98% of the guests were Japanese, we were one of 2 western couples in the dining room and seemed to be a bit of a novelty to the staff.
I'd rate Shiga as an excellent intro to Japan skiing if you're happy to lap runs all day then collapse after a hearty meal.
Nozawa is also fantastic and has a more traditional village feel but probably not quite as beginner friendly.
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Nemps20

Early Days
Jul 27, 2021
34
32
18
Sydney
Has anyone been to the Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort?

Hoping you can provide some recommendations for accommodation that's close to easy beginner runs and a gondola. My partner and her friend are both beginner beginners and to make this trip work for them, I need to make it super easy for them (part of my plan to return).

Currently, we are looking at the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel EAST. It ticks many boxes but seems to lack that ski lodge ambiance and open fireplace lounge area. Has anyone stayed there?

We definitely want to stay on-snow, as close to the lifts as possible. Can anyone recommend another part of this ski resort we may be overlooking? Three or four-star would be ideal.

Thank you.
Hi @Wozzz hope you are getting your head around the task at hand, lots of info flying at you from the crew, a lot of it very helpful too I must say. Just another bit for you :)
Hey I will be starting a ski lodge in Okushiga Kogen in winter 2022/23 so if you are looking for somewhere to stay, my partner and I are Australian.
If you are keen to try Shiga Kogen out we will be happy to show you around and if we are fully booked I do know some of the neighbouring pensions as well.
Also of all the info coming at you I would agree with, Nozawa Onsen & Myoko Kogen as being the best experience of Japanese town & Niseko Hirafu for the best western experience whilst still being in Japan.
Yes Shiga is a bit more laid back, but nice to relax in a lodge and not have to go out and battle the rest of Niseko/Myoko for a ramen and a beer. Some good food in the lodges up there.
Anyway won't keep you just DM me mid next year if you are keen to come up that way, I'm good friends with the Ski School & Hire at Okushiga as well so can sort you for lessons and gear. Cheers
 

skivet

Addicted
Sep 16, 2007
386
190
113
Gold coast
Ok, late into the discussion but I think Okushiga Kogen is probably the only place I would suggest at Shiga for beginners. English school and the beginners run there is very wide and not too steep plus fairly long.
Okushiga Kogen Hotelis lovely but expensive especially the restaurants excluding the sports bar, but we also stayed at a Japanese pension Okushiga Lodge Yama no Manimani.Lovely coupleonly 7 rooms from memory, great hospitality and food ( $25 for dinner plus great breakfast included in the price).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Nemps20

snowgum

A Local
Ski Pass
May 4, 1999
6,569
5,253
563
55
vic
If there's no foreigners in January, it will not be super busy in February because it's no longer school holidays in Australia, so accommodation will not be on the expensive end.

If you want more "youth hostel" digs, you will end up with Japanese "minshuku" a small tatami room with futon, shared toilets and onsen only.
If you DO go to Niseko + a car, check out Niseko OAC lodge.... with a car, it's not the cheapest option for one person though.

There's some great bowls at the top of Kagura, and it's linked by a 5km gondola to Naeba. Kagura gets at least 50% more powder than Naeba, and it's not crowded on a week day. Back in 2019, there were huge numbers of Chinese at the Naeba Prince Hotel (a big ski in ski out 600 bed hotel complex, lockers 30m inside the door for skis & gear) ..... but 95% of them stuck to beginner & easy intermediate slopes.... you could ski powder lines 300m right out the front of the hotel!!! :D

Photos from my room at the Naeba Prince!!!! Mostly tracked out by night skiing time, but right in the middle, my group made ALL of those tracks after lunch!!!

P4350227.JPG



By the way, this would be a GREAT opening for the OP. @Wozzz

Super easy to get to, LOADS of beginner slopes right out the front of the Naeba Prince Hotel, English speaking lessons, and if the beginners get tired, they can just go back to the room and sleep for a while!!
Unlike the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel(s), the Naeba Prince has a lot of restaurants (and a walk into the village/town has more.... if you don't want to pay for the exy Prince breakfast, walk into the town and get some food for breakfast... fruit, cereal, milk, plastic bowls & spoons)

In fact, I'd say that the Naeba Prince is the IDEAL option for @Wozzz . You can leave the beginners for a while, head near the top on the gondola, ride the wide ungroomed powder run, and meet the beginners on your way down to the bottom.
Cheers again Sandy,

Mm let me clarify the Canadian YHA comment. It was a great experience for a end of uni, first-time out of Aussie winter trip. Not too full in The Mountain hostels, buses to lifts, good common rooms, ability to switch off noise etc…

These days, in my 50s, being used to an Australian ski club, common rooms & lounges etc…, I’d probably aim for for all the common areas described above but with one bed in a simple, compact not luxurious room, ideally with a western bed. At less than say $200 p.n (I don’t want much!)

Agreed, travelling as twosome (non couple), better deals are available, including Neiseko, I note - especially if prepared to hike /bus a few km to the lift base. (As in AOC - which, thanks, could also work). Possibly not providing price for March as yet?

Shared lodges (pensions)? look like they may be more internationally-focussed than say Shiga - possibly a good thing if(?) I was solo, although a week/10 days is on the short side to miss company?
(Would be good to speak some English in accommodation, ideally?)

Kagura/Naeba have some good stats, for vertical, max elevation, snowfall, lifts and season length.
I might have to check what accomodation deals are on offer.

Have added links below for folks new to the area:



Cheers.
G
 

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
Cheers again Sandy,

Mm let me clarify the Canadian YHA comment. It was a great experience for a end of uni, first-time out of Aussie winter trip. Not too full in The Mountain hostels, buses to lifts, good common rooms, ability to switch off noise etc…

These days, in my 50s, being used to an Australian ski club, common rooms & lounges etc…, I’d probably aim for for all the common areas described above but with one bed in a simple, compact not luxurious room, ideally with a western bed. At less than say $200 p.n (I don’t want much!)

Agreed, travelling as twosome (non couple), better deals are available, including Neiseko, I note - especially if prepared to hike /bus a few km to the lift base. (As in AOC - which, thanks, could also work). Possibly not providing price for March as yet?

Shared lodges (pensions)? look like they may be more internationally-focussed than say Shiga - possibly a good thing if(?) I was solo, although a week/10 days is on the short side to miss company?
(Would be good to speak some English in accommodation, ideally?)

Kagura/Naeba have some good stats, for vertical, max elevation, snowfall, lifts and season length.
I might have to check what accomodation deals are on offer.

Have added links below for folks new to the area:



Cheers.
G
Don't go to Kagura everybody, it is horrible(ly good) and not too busy, yet......shhhh.
Naeba does get busy on weekends with mostly Japanese and Chinese visitors. I've been to both a few times. The Kagura season can run into May and it has a lively bunch of older Japanese backcountry skiers I found having lunch in the small hut the backcountry ski shop is in .
 

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
I've had a couple of days at Shiga and I'd like to get back there to check out the whole Shiga ski area. I stayed in the Hasuike area in the Shiga Highlands hotel annexe next to the Shiga Highlands Hotel with a Japanese friend and his daughter. Typical biggish Japanese hotel. Good onsen, no bar and not really a lounge area to hang out in. She was ski racing (high school comp) on the Giant slope for the two days we were there. Day two Masahiro stayed to watch his daughter after we had a lovely day of skiing together on day 1. I found a young Japanese tele skier on his wide skis to spend much of the second day with. Not much common spoken language but some good laughs and fun for two Tele Tribemates. In the afternoon we booted up a hill through the trees and skied down an untouched powder slope. Not used to it I promptly face-planted and took a while to get up. Then did it again! K2 World Piste skis are a bit narrow for properly deep snow. Two days of windless sunshine in what is a National Park area (no annoying lift music), macaques running around on the building roofs and hardly anyone else skiing the runs was a great first time at Shiga Kogen.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hyst and snowgum

skichanger

A Local
Jan 1, 2012
9,347
6,473
563
chaletmyoko.com
Don't go to Kagura everybody, it is horrible(ly good) and not too busy, yet......shhhh.
Naeba does get busy on weekends with mostly Japanese and Chinese visitors. I've been to both a few times. The Kagura season can run into May and it has a lively bunch of older Japanese backcountry skiers I found having lunch in the small hut the backcountry ski shop is in .
Kagura used to do “Heli skiing” into the back country at the end of the season. They drop you a guide and a packed lunch. And they have a sign out sign back in system for out of bounds. It is a bit like a flying SAR watch. And theg have a moguls plas snow course.

At least 2 places at the bottom of one of the cable cars have been bought by westerners.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goski

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
Kagura used to do “Heli skiing” into the back country at the end of the season. They drop you a guide and a packed lunch. And they have a sign out sign back in system for out of bounds. It is a bit like a flying SAR watch. And theg have a moguls plas snow course.

At least 2 places at the bottom of one of the cable cars have been bought by westerners.
It's a great spot, still undeveloped. Bit far from other ski areas for some variety but I was on my own when skiing there so I didn't get into the backcountry. Next time...
One of the older Japanese BC skiers I had lunch with told me they sneaked past the gate (at the to of the highest lift, a dinky "romance" chair, because they didn't bother taking much safety gear any more. Rebels!
 
  • Haha
Reactions: skichanger

Sandy

Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
Moderator
Ski Pass
Jan 1, 1998
71,065
31,268
1,515
Yokohama, Japan, Melb. Expat.
It's a great spot, still undeveloped. Bit far from other ski areas for some variety but I was on my own when skiing there so I didn't get into the backcountry. Next time...
One of the older Japanese BC skiers I had lunch with told me they sneaked past the gate (at the to of the highest lift, a dinky "romance" chair, because they didn't bother taking much safety gear any more. Rebels!
The backcountry off the peak "romance" chair (lift #5) now requires avi gear & 2 way Japanese radios, which wasn't the case about 6-7 years ago.
 
  • Like
Reactions: snowgum

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
The backcountry off the peak "romance" chair (lift #5) now requires avi gear & 2 way Japanese radios, which wasn't the case about 6-7 years ago.
When I was last there in 2018, AVI gear was needed with a beacon check at the gate. He said they had a route that got them (well the few who wanted to skip the gear bit) around the back that was away from the gate. If they were really doing that, it was fatalistic, hopefully never fatal. That was Feb 2018. For the sake of those venerable BC skiers I hope they don't get to sneak out the back any more without the appropriate gear. Average age would have been early seventies I think. They said they skied together multiple days of the week during the season. When next I get there and have a longer trip I'll do an avi course. I've ski-toured a fair bit in Oz but not in avalanche-prone OS backcountry....yet.
 

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
Naeba was the very first place I skied at in Japan in 1986, just before Shiga Kogen.
My first Honshu skiing experience was in 2015 at Naeba and Kagura for a day at each, had a long and enjoyable dinner with the instructor group on Saturday night and a drinks session with a smaller last on the Sunday night. Up early for a 5am Monday drive to Shiga Kogen for two days. Then a stuffy overnight "luxury" sleeper bus (not recommended) to look around Osaka and Kyoto for a few days. Back to Naeba by evening Shinkansen and a regular bus (overnight again but a better trip, I got the back row to sleep on in an almost empty bus) for a 5AM arrival for another weekend skiing at Naeba and Kagura.
My friend and his wife have a tiny apartment at Naeba and worked as instructors at Naeba on the weekends which is why I was there in the busy days. It was a hectic trip, too much moving around and not enough sleep. Learnt to slow it down after that.

Still haven't skied the lower beginner slopes at Kagura but I agree with Sandy that Naeba/Kagura would be a good option for the OP's group. Try to ski during the weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds. Maybe spend time at Naeba then at Shiga?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sandy and snowgum

Goski

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 25, 2013
1,381
1,891
363
Melbourne
Go to sleep @snowgum , me too. Not enough sleep puts us at increased risk of dementia and other ailments which could mean we might not be able to ski together in our 70s.
Off-topic but there is an increasing view in the medical research field that good quality - and enough sleep - (approx 8 hours a night), regular exercise, good nutrition, meaningful social connections and stimulating hobbies are all important to live in better health for longer, including cognitive health. All the better for enjoying more ski years at all the places mentioned in this thread.
 

skichanger

A Local
Jan 1, 2012
9,347
6,473
563
chaletmyoko.com
Hi @Wozzz hope you are getting your head around the task at hand, lots of info flying at you from the crew, a lot of it very helpful too I must say. Just another bit for you :)
Hey I will be starting a ski lodge in Okushiga Kogen in winter 2022/23 so if you are looking for somewhere to stay, my partner and I are Australian.
If you are keen to try Shiga Kogen out we will be happy to show you around and if we are fully booked I do know some of the neighbouring pensions as well.
Also of all the info coming at you I would agree with, Nozawa Onsen & Myoko Kogen as being the best experience of Japanese town & Niseko Hirafu for the best western experience whilst still being in Japan.
Yes Shiga is a bit more laid back, but nice to relax in a lodge and not have to go out and battle the rest of Niseko/Myoko for a ramen and a beer. Some good food in the lodges up there.
Anyway won't keep you just DM me mid next year if you are keen to come up that way, I'm good friends with the Ski School & Hire at Okushiga as well so can sort you for lessons and gear. Cheers
Welcome to the "craziness" (or maybe bravery) of being an Aussie owning a ski lodge in Japan. I mean that in the nicest possible way as in my opinion and experience it is not something for the feint hearted to do. Would love to more about your lodge if you are happy to share.

I am also wondering if you have any information about Melco and their plans you can share with us. My understanding is that they bought Okushiga Kogen sometime in 2019 but have not done a lot yet due to Covid. They also looked at the IR thing potentially happening in Yokahama. But that got canned with the change in "mayor". Just wondering what affect this will have on the area. But we won't know that for a while.
 

Jacksong

Addicted
Oct 2, 2018
314
231
113
Welcome to the "craziness" (or maybe bravery) of being an Aussie owning a ski lodge in Japan. I mean that in the nicest possible way as in my opinion and experience it is not something for the feint hearted to do.
Imagine a foreigner owning and operating a hotel in Australia who speaks no English and has no visa to work/visit Australia. It does seem crazy.
 

Nemps20

Early Days
Jul 27, 2021
34
32
18
Sydney
Welcome to the "craziness" (or maybe bravery) of being an Aussie owning a ski lodge in Japan. I mean that in the nicest possible way as in my opinion and experience it is not something for the feint hearted to do. Would love to more about your lodge if you are happy to share.

I am also wondering if you have any information about Melco and their plans you can share with us. My understanding is that they bought Okushiga Kogen sometime in 2019 but have not done a lot yet due to Covid. They also looked at the IR thing potentially happening in Yokahama. But that got canned with the change in "mayor". Just wondering what affect this will have on the area. But we won't know that for a while.
Hello Skichanger we have talked about this move for many years, our jobs intertwine the ski lodge business, me a lifelong hops worker and my partner she is a bean counter.
Yeah its crazy but great to work for yourself esp with the hours we put in now I see it being beneficial in hosting the lodge.
We got 9 bdrm lodge at base of Okushiga in the pension street, we have not been there again since being at start of 2020 but previous owner has been maintaining. Looking forward to getting over there for extended period end Jan/Feb & start of March.
Yeah the Melco ownership I think is pretty exciting for the resort, I know the owner has skied at Okushiga for years. However I am not exactly sure of the plans apart from the hotel upgrade, though word on the street is they are pretty happy with the meetings that have happened so far.
Not sure how this has changed since the IR was turned down as last meeting happened prior to this.
So all going well look forward to meeting all the crazies over in Japan next year.
Cheers
 
  • Wow
Reactions: skichanger
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass