Getting To Shiga Kogen

Getting To Shiga Kogen

Myoko Kogen Powder Packages
Wagner Custome Skis

Getting To Shiga Kogen

There are various options for how to get to Shiga Kogen Japan. The travel information includes:

Where is Shiga Kogen?

Shiga Kogen, otherwise known as Shiga Heights, is located in Yamanouchi in the Joshinetsu National Park in the northeast of Nagano Prefecture. Ichinose (one of the main villages) is about 50km northeast of Nagano and approximately 250km northwest of Tokyo.

Shiga Kogen is a collection of 18 different ski areas, most of which have an associated village. The villages are spread out along two windy mountain roads. It’s about 14km from Okushigakogen at the northern end of the Shiga Kogen to Hasuike, a main intersection in the lower parts of Shiga Kogen. From Hasuike, it’s about a 7km drive along route 292 to the ski area in the southern most part of Shiga Kogen.

The town of Yudanaka and the adjacent Shibu Onsen near the snow monkeys sit at the base of the mountain, with a 14km windy road that leads up to Sun Valley, the first of the Shiga ski areas.


You can fly into Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda, although the former tends to have slightly better transport options. To search for flights to Tokyo and compare lots of different airlines and routes, you can use a flight aggregator.

Unless you want to overnight in a Narita Airport hotel, a Haneda Airport hotel, or a hotel near Tokyo train station, you’ll need to consider your flight times because not all Shiga Kogen hotels will allow you to check in at 2am. If your hotel does allow late night check-in, your arrival into Narita should be before 7pm, whilst for return flights you’ll preferably want an afternoon flight or evening flight out of Tokyo.

Travel to Shiga Kogen

There are 4 main ways to get to Shiga Kogen from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport:
  1. Direct Shiga Kogen bus with Nagano Snow Shuttle
  2. Train/bullet train to Nagano/bus
  3. Train/bullet train to Nagano/train from Nagano to Yudanaka/bus
  4. Self-driving
  5. Door to door transfer with Chuo Taxi

Option 1: Shuttle Bus

Taking the Shiga Kogen bus with Nagano Snow Shuttle provides the advantage of not having to lug your gear through train stations and onto trains, however there are only a few schedules per day between Narita or Haneda Airport and Shiga Kogen, which takes about 5.5 hours. The evening buses stop at your accommodation (for the night bus, check that your accommodation will allow you to check in early in the morning). The buses run through the main part of the season, but not in the late season.

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Option 2: Train/train/bus

The train/train/bus combo can be faster than the direct shuttle and provides the opportunity to experience bullet train travel.

Part 1: From Narita Airport to Nagano
Travelling from Narita Airport (or Haneda) involves catching 2 trains. The first train is either a Keiser Skyliner from the Narita Airport terminals to Ueno, or a Narita Express Train (NEX) to Tokyo which takes about an hour. The second train is a bullet train (shinkansen) from Ueno or Tokyo to Nagano, which takes about 90 minutes.

Departures are pretty regular during the main part of the day, but you can check Jorudan, Japan Travel Navitime or google maps for specific times. If you arrive into Nagano late in the day you may need to stop-over in one of the Nagano hotels.

For train travel to Nagano from Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, or other parts of Japan, see Jorudan for schedules, routes and fares.

Part 2: Bus from Nagano to Shiga Kogen
Inexpensive Nagaden buses depart regularly from the east (Higashi) exit bus stops at Nagano train station. You can check the Nagaden Express website for the latest timetables (in Japanese but you can use google translate). There are regular buses to the main/northern Shiga Kogen villages such as Okushiga Kogen, Yakebitaiyama and Ichinose. Buses to the little village of Kumanoyo are less regular. The other option is to catch the bus to Hasuike, and then get the local shuttle to Kumanoyu.

You can also get bus schedules if you stop in at the Nagano Information Centre at the train station. They have English speaking staff and can provide bus timetables to get to Shiga Kogen, maps of Shiga Kogen, and information regarding activities around Nagano. Or bus timetables are available via google maps.

The bus trip takes about 70 minutes from Nagano to Sun Valley and another 10-15 minutes to Ichinose and Yakebi. The (inexpensive) bus fare needs to be paid in cash on the bus (not 5,000 or 10,000 yen notes).

Option 3: Bus from Yudanaka Station

This is the same as for Option 2 to get to Nagano. From Nagano you can catch a local train to Yudanaka on the Nagano Dentetsu line. From Yudanaka train station, there are hourly buses (that are very inexpensive) up to the different villages of Shiga Kogen or you could catch a taxi.

Option 4: Driving to Shiga Kogen

Driving is a great option if you plan to visit various ski resorts in the region. You can get a rental car with English GPS to aid navigation (and enter the phone number of the hotel or resort into the GPS).

The drive from Tokyo takes about 5 hours. Unlike many other Japanese ski resorts where you can pretty much just drive up to the ski resort, the road up to Shiga Kogen is very windy and often snow covered. Snow tyres are essential and if you rent a car from Haneda or Narita Airport these don’t come standard, whereas if you rent a car in Nagano this is highly likely. The drive from Yudanaka town up to the main parts of Shiga Kogen takes about 30 minutes. See the general driving in Japan tips.

Option 5: Chuo Taxi

Chuo Taxi offer very convenient door to door transfers from the airports to Shiga Kogen. Wait times for shared shuttles are minimal and it doesn't cost as much as you'd think. Private shuttles are reasonably priced for a group and offer transport according to your timetable.

Getting Around Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen is very spread out. The various villages are distributed along a stretch of mountainous road approximately 21km long. Whilst it’s possible to navigate each of the villages on foot, it’s obviously not possible to walk between the villages of Shiga Kogen.

Shuttle buses operate between the villages, which are complimentary if you have a lift pass. Shuttle timetables are available from some accommodations, the Hasuike Information Centre, the Nagano Information Centre, or on the bus stops or use google maps. The free shuttles operate from 8:30am to about 17:30, and a paid evening bus goes until about 8:30pm.

Skiing or boarding is an easy way to get around between the villages because the ski areas in the northeast are inter-connected, however if you want to get between the northeast villages and the southeast resorts, you’ll need to catch a shuttle bus. Schedules from the furthest northeast villages (e.g. Yakebi, Ichinose, Okushigakogen) are irregular, so either ski or catch a bus to Hasuike. From Hasuike there are more regular bus services to Kumanoyu and Yokoteyama. The buses stop at every stop, so it’s a painstaking hour long trip from one end of Shiga Kogen to the other.

It’s also possible to book a taxi to get around Shiga Kogen, although it’s somewhat expensive because the taxi may come from the bottom of the mountain.

Tours to Shiga Kogen

There are various options for tours that include guided skiing at Shiga Kogen, along with transport from the town of Yudanaka or other bases such as Madarao or Myoko. Many of the tours are for powder chasers, and Japan Powder Culture Tours also run trips for beginners and intermediates wanting to get some powder experience.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

You can look at the map at the top of this page for ski areas near Shiga Kogen. Keep in mind that the road is closed between Kumanoyu and Gunma ski areas such as Kusatsu and Manza Onsen.

Kita Shiga Kogen (ie north Shiga Kogen) is very close to Shiga Kogen as the crow flies, with Ryuoo Ski Park being just over the hill from Okushiga Kogen, however the drive to Kita Shiga Kogen is a decent distance via Yudanaka.

The Mt Kosha ski resorts of Kijimadaira, Yomase Onsen, Yamabiko no Oka, and X-Jam Takaifuji are also very close by. These resorts are mostly easily accessed if you have your own wheels or are on a muti-resort tour.

There are other major Nagano ski resorts, so it’s easy to combine Shiga Kogen with another ski resort or two on your Japan ski holiday. Nearby ski resorts include Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen (in Niigata) and Hakuba. There is a daily shuttle bus between Shiga Kogen accommodation and Hakuba, Madarao/Tangram and Nozawa Onsen with Nagano Snow Shuttle which includes a lunch stop.

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Another way to get to nearby ski resorts is to catch the bus back into Nagano and then get another bus out, but this is somewhat time consuming. Otherwise you can use Chuo Taxi which is only economical if you have a group.