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Shiga Explorer

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Price p/p From price based on twin-share, 4 nights Villa Alpen + 3 nights Lodge Aibiya.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,138

8 Days | 7 Nights | 5 Skiing at Shiga Kogen

To be eligible for any advertised specials you must book & pay the required deposit by the last day of the promotion...no exceptions.
5% Off Displayed Prices for Tours Between 10th March to 20th April, 2020
Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Instruction | Terrain Focus: On-Piste
Ability: Beginner to Intermediate
Price p/p From price based on twin-share, 4 nights Villa Alpen + 3 nights Lodge Aibiya.
Base/invoice currency is in JPY in taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 1,138
Get the best of both worlds with this package with the first part staying in a ski-in/ski-out hotel and then moving base down to Yudanaka (famous for the Snow Monkeys) where you will have the opportunity to experience Japanese culture. These packages can be CUSTOMISED from 5 nights.
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Custom Booking Period
Min Days
Custom Booking Period: Dec 18 - Apr 20, 2020
Min Days: From 5
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Shiga Explorer

The Shiga Explorer is for groups, couples & families that wish to experience staying on Asia’s largest ski resort (Shiga Kogen) in a ski-in/ski-out accommodation provider, and then staying in the authentic Japanese ski town of Yudanaka to enjoy a large range of traditional restaurants, walks through historic parts of the town and of course those amazing snow monkeys.

The first 4-nights stay at the ski-in/ski-out hotel Villa Alpen in a western or Japanese-style room with private toilet & basin (bathing is done in the traditional Japanese bathhouse) and includes daily breakfast & dinners. On the last 3-nights you have the option of staying in a deluxe traditional Japanese Ryokan in a Japanese room with private bathroom or a standard option staying in the Lodge Abiya in a Western-style room with shared bathroom facilities including breakfasts.

The first day of the package on-snow includes a full day of ski or snowboard tuition by a qualified instructor to refresh your skill and give you an overview of the whole resort and after that you are free to explore the 19 inter-connected ski areas of Japan's largest ski resort, Shiga Kogen. 5-days of lift tickets for Shiga Kogen are included so the last days based in Yudanaka you will be shuttled up and down the mountain each day with our groups. Whilst staying in Yudanaka you will have the opportunity to visit the Snow Monkeys, walk the streets of the historic Japanese village of Shibu Onsen, visit the local sake brewery, do an optional tour to an amazing temple and castle.

This is the perfect tour for those coming to Japan to ski or snowboard for the first time or for those who want more than just a ski resort experience.


  • Start from scratch or refresh your ski or snowboard skills
  • Rejuvenate in a local ryokan’s onsen
  • Visit the world famous snow monkeys and walk through 1300 year old Shibu Onsen town
  • Relax and be driven from location to location with the experienced mountain drivers
  • Enjoy a variety of traditional Japanese restaurants to eat at each night in Yudanakah
  • Make some new friends to share those face shot stories with over a local ale or wine

Rider Ability

This tour caters for beginner to intermediate skiers and boarders. It includes 1 day of lessons however additional days can be added to the program.

Resorts/Ski Areas Visited

Whilst this tour is based in 2 different locations, all skiing & snowboarding is at Shiga Kogen. If however you feel your ability has improved beyond intermediate there may be an opportunity to partake in one of Japan Powder Cuture Tours guided day trips to another ski area (for an additional fee).


This itinerary is a guide based on 4-nights on-mountain at Shiga Kogen and 3-nights off-mountain ate Yudanaka and may vary depending on how you customise your package.

Day 1 (arrival day)

Make your way to  Shiga Kogen (the largest ski area in Japan) on either the amazing rail system or a shuttle from Narita or Haneda airport.

Upon arrival you will be greeted by the friendly English speaking staff at the Alpen Villa hotel. After settling in to your room you can sit around and relax either in your room or in the communal lounge/bar area tasting local beers or a cocktail in front of the cosy open fireplace. Alternatively head to the in-house onsen (Japanese bath-house) for a relaxing soak before dinner.

Dinner is served in the main dining area in the hotel where they offer an à la carte menu of international cuisine.

Day 2 (Tuition Day)

After a hearty breakfast, get set to head out for your first day on the snow!

Whether you are a first-timer, beginner or someone wanting to brush up on your existing skills, a full day of instruction is included to get you going.

After skiing, that onsen is always a great thing to come home to soothing any aches and pains.

Once again dinner will be served in the dinning room.

Day 3 & 4 (freeski/ride)

After breakfast it is your choice as to where to ski or board.....made up of 19 resorts Shiga Kogen is the largest ski area in Asia with the highest lift access in Japan. Because Shiga is so large and elevated, fresh lines can be found days after a snowfall. And because relatively few westerners have discovered this area the queues are almost non-existent and another bonus is that very few Japanese ski off-piste. 

Because the hotel is ski-in/ski-out you have the flexibility to come back to the hotel and have a rest at any time.

In the afternoon, why not drop in to the The Teppa Room at Chalet Shiga which is a great western style bar with a big screen that plays ski and snowboard videos, and serves up locally brewed beer and appetizers.

Then back to the hotel for bar, onsen & dinner before bed.

Day 5

On day 5 you will check out of your room in the morning before heading out to ski for the day.

At the end of the day you will be picked up by Japan Culture Powder Tours at the Villa Alpen and shuttled to your accommodation of choice in Yudanaka.

Whether you are staying at the Hostel Abiya or the Ryokan Biyu you will have access to indoor & outdoor hot springs.

There is no evening meals included in Yudanaka as there are some great inexpensive options for dining at one of the many traditional Japanese restaurants in the village.

Day 6

Today you have the option of a rest day where you can just relax at your hotel and/or immerse yourself in the Japanese culture. Visit the 1,40 year old Zenkoji Temple in Nagano or head further afield to Matsumoto Castle which is a national treasure, and the five story donjon is one of the oldest castles in Japan.

And/or take a visit to the monkey onsen which is a real highlight of visiting the area.

In the afternoon, head over to the local Sake brewery for a few tastings which will loosen you up for the evening's activities.

In the evening, stroll the cobble-stone street of the historic Japanese village of Shibu Onsen and stop at one of the very traditional restaurants in Shibu Onsen on the way home for dinner or head back to Yudanaka to one of its great restaurants & bars.

Day 7

Today is your last day of skiing/boarding. You will be shuttled up to the mountain by Japan Powder Culture Tours staff. Spend the day continuing to explore the massive Shiga Kogen area.

Maybe a last chance local craft beer or sake at the Teppa Room at Chalet Shiga and then back to Yudanaka for your last evening.

Take the chance to have your last soak in an onsen and eat fabulous local cuisine.

Maybe an evening of karaoke & laughs in the Thai village below Yudanaka before retiring to bed.

Day 8

It is time to bid farewell.

However depending on your flight schedule you might still have time to take in some of the cultural highlights or a trip to the Snow Monkeys (maybe your second trip!!) before heading back to the airport or onwards.

Cultural activities...

...traditional Japanese food...

...visit the snow monkeys.

Accommodation Options & Meals

This package is located in 2 distinctly different places offering 2 very different experiences:
1. The first part of the tour is located on-mountain at Shiga Kogen ski resort where you can ski/snowboard right from your door; and
2. The second part is based in the township of Yudanaka where you will experience Japanese history & culture.

Shiga Kogen - Sun Valley Area

Sun Valley is one of the 19 inter-connected ski areas at Shiga Kogen. Like most areas at Shiga Kogen there is little to do outside of your hotel when the sun goes down so you have to mostly rely on the services of your hotel.

Villa Alpen Hotel

Villa Alpen is a family owned and operated hotel based at Sun Valley at Shiga Kogen resort and gives you a true ski in and ski out experience.
Villa Alpen is not a brand new five star hotel, but the owner Captain and his son Ken and his family make up with it by really making you feel at home. English speaking they are well versed at looking after westerners needs and both Captain and Ken a qualified ski instructors so they have a passion for you to experience their wonderful ski area.


Rooms are a Western/Japanese mix with beds and tatami area for day time living with a separate toilet and wash basin and some have full en-suites. There are also some Japanese-style rooms that cater for up to 6 guests sleeping on futon beds on the tatami floor.

Guests can put their boots on in the room and walk straight into the lift that places them on the ground floor to pickup skis or snowboard and a short 20 metre walk to the lifts. All rooms have a heater and kettle to make green tea.


Villa Alpen has an indoor Japanese bathhouse (onsen) where all your bathing is conducted and is a great way to soothe any aching joints or muscles after a day on the slope.

The hotel has a main restaurant where breakfasts and dinners are served and the main bar does smaller snack type meals and beverages and is a cool place to chill out after being on the slopes. There is a communal lounge area with fireplace for congregating in the evenings to talk about the day's highlights.

Breakfasts include, cereals, fruit, coffee/tea/juice, toast and eggs. The dinners are a mix of Japanese/Western style and they seven different set menus.

There is free Wi-Fi drink, vending machines, ski and snowboard storage room and an in-house convenience store for those midnight snacks.

Villa Alpen..

...western/Japanese rooms...

.....indoor onsen


The area is well known for its onsens (hot springs) and it is said that over 1300 years ago a monk who visited the area discovered the healing quality of the water and the popularity of the region grew so much that the Samurai would come to repair their bodies in the rejuvenating waters.

The other attraction to the area is the world renowned snow monkeys who have learnt to keep themselves warm in the natural onsen water. Although the town is visited by foreigners to visit the snow monkeys during the day, you will find the town relatively free of westerners in the evenings. There is a wide array of traditional eating houses in Yudanaka which serve fresh local and regional produce. In the past few years the restaurant scene has expanded to include a number of new eateries which have a mix of Japanese and Western food to suit every palette. A walk through historic Shibu town is also a must with its quaint shops, temples, shrines, foot onsens and authentic architecture.

There are 2 accommodation options; Ryokan Biyu no Yado (deluxe) and Lodge Aibiya (which is an up-market hostel/lodge).

Deluxe Option - Ryokan Biyu no Yado

Ryokan Biyu no Yado is a 3.5 star Ryokan (Japanese Inn) and is ranked #1 by Trip Advisor, scoring an average of 5 out of 5 from over 160 reviews!
Rooms all come with private ensuite/bathroom and are Japanese-style with woven tatami floors and futon beds. All rooms have a flat screen TV, small fridge & kettle. Your room also has a traditional Japanese wardrobe (Yakata) which is not mandatory to wear at this Ryokan, although it is definitely comfortable attire after a day on the slopes.

The Ryokan also has some western rooms which are double the size of the Japanese rooms available as an up-grade for an additional cost.

There is a spectacular an indoor Japanese bathhouse (onsen) and outdoor hot spring (rotenburo) and there is also a private onsen available for rent for an additional fee.

The 3 night-time meals included in the Ryokan Biyu package are traditional multi-course Japanese cuisine served by your own private waiter in the hotel dining area. Breakfast (also included) is either Japanese or Western-style. For the remaining night-time meals you have the choice of many authentic Japanese restaurants in down-town Yudanaka or Nakano or you can buy additional meals at the Ryokan.

There are massage services available, free wi-fi in the common lounge area, a luxurious lounge bar and common seating area, drinks vending machines, grand piano, large screen TV, karaoke and a souvenir shop.

The Ryokan does not have clothes washing facilities however there is a public laundry a short walk away.

Ryokan Biyu..

...deluxe Japanese-style rooms...

.....outdoor hot springs

Standard Option - Lodge Aibya

Lodge Aibiya is located in Yudanaka township the perfect place to relax after a day on the slopes. Yoshi and his family provide a high level of Japanese service backed up with western insights gained by working overseas. English speaking with a wealth of knowledge of the Nagano area, Yoshi will look after all your needs.

The lodge has an option of quad share single western bed rooms and twin share rooms with shared bathroom and there is the option to upgrade to the twin/triple deluxe rooms with private bathrooms.

There is a well equipped kitchen for those who would like to cook themselves or you can enjoy the many traditional Japanese restaurants only a short walk away. There are two different types of lounge rooms and a separate cinema room. There are separate male and female shared shower rooms.

A free continental breakfast is provided each day with breads, cereal, fruits, yoghurt, coffee, tea and fruit juices.

Free WI-FI is available throughout the lodge. A gift shop with crafts made locally and beverages, local Shiga Kogen beer and snacks are available for sale. Experience the tradition at a local ryokan onsens for a small fee.

The lodge is only a 3 minute walk from the train station with local convenience stores nearby.

There is an in house laundry service available at an extra cost.

Lodge Aibiya..

...quad western rooms...

.....communal kitchen

Rate, Inclusions & Add-Ons

2019/20 Rates

 Prices are per person in Japanese Yen
 Villa Alpen Yudanakah Options  Price per person  Single Room Upgrade
 Twin room with private toilet & basin DELUXE:
Ryokan Biyu - Twin Room - private bathroom
 139,000  tba
 Twin room with private toilet & basin STANDARD:
Hostel Abiya - Twin Room - shared bathroom
 125,000  tba

Please Note:
  • Base/invoice currency is Japanese yen
  • Rates are higher for the Christmas New Year tour dates
  • All prices are based on a minimum of two people for each individual tour to proceed. If you are a single traveller, we will endeavor to mix you with another group and if not possible, there will be an extra charge for one on one instruction
  • Convert to your currency here
  • 4 nights twin share accommodation at Villa Alpen (ski-in/out) inc. breakfast & dinner
  • 3 nights accommodation in Yudanaka (Snowmonkey Town) including breakfast
  • 5 days of lift passes with instruction on first day
  • All mountain transfers
  • Ski Instructor/guide for one day (max 1:6 instructor to guest ratio)
  • Assistance with a visit to the world famous snow monkeys (admission fee not included)
  • Walk around 1300 year old historic Shibu town
  • Local sake factory sampling tour
  • Rejuvenating Onsens (complimentary at Villa Alpen and Ryokan Biyu, Lodge Aibiya guests can purchase onsen passes from the reception)
  • Plus many more hidden gems...
  • Extra days of ski or snowboard instruction & guiding
  • Ski & snowboard rentals
  • Airport transfers to Shiga Kogen & from Yudanakah
  • Karate performance from a Grand Master champion of Japan
  • Taiko Drum, Shamisen guitar and lion dance performance
Not Included

Japan Powder Culture Touts (JPCT) Booking Conditions


  • Deposit is 20% of full tour price per person.
  • All deposits are non-refundable.
  • Final balance due: 30 days prior to departure.
  • All payments are in Japanese Yen (JPY) 


  • more than 30 days prior to departure, full deposit forfeited.
  • Less than 30 days 100% forfeited.
  • Tour operator highly recommends you take out travel insurance at time of sending your deposit. 


JPCT reserves the right to cancel any tour prior to departure. In this case you will receive a full refund. You will not be entitled to make any further claim for compensation, damages, expenses, loss of time or inconvenience.

All bookings are subject to JPCTs terms and conditions and subject to availability at time of booking.

Other Important Information

Terrain & SafetyThe rules when skiing at resorts in Japan can be a lot different to what is experienced in Western resorts around the world. At a high percentage of the resorts in Japan, trail skiing is the norm and anything off the main marked trails is deemed "out-of-bounds". The out of bounds is not patrolled so as far as the resort is concerned; skiing there is at your own risk. The out of bounds skiing provided by ESA is deemed (what has been termed in Japan by westerners) “slack country” or “side country”. Many times these out of bounds areas are in between two marked courses so at the bottom of the run you meet up on a marked course to take you back to the lifts, hence the term “slack country”.

Some resorts are more lenient with "out-of-bounds" skiing and others very strict. Some will have signs that state "ski at your own risk" where others may not. JPCT consider everything that is not on a marked trail to be out of bounds. 

If you wish to experience the "out-of-bounds" (skiing off any of the marked trails) areas:
  1. You must carry the essential avalanche safety equipment (beacon, shovel, probe & backpack to carry such gear)
  2. You must be able to ski at a sufficient ability / level to manage the conditions on the day for any out-of-bounds runs
  3. You will need to undertake an safety instruction session on the use of your avalanche equipment (even if you already know how to use it)
  4. You will be required to sign a release of liability agreement prior to undertaking any out-of-bounds skiing with ESA
The JPCT team have the following credentials:
  • knowledge and experience at skiing the various resorts they visit in the Nagano and Niigata areas
  • accreditation and different combinations of instructors, ski patrol, avalanche awareness and first aid
  • ski instructors have a minimum of level 2 NZIAS certification
Exclusion of Liability & RiskAdventure sports activities involve many risks, dangers and hazards. These risks and hazards are outlined in the JPCT release of liability, waiver of claims, assumptions of risks and indemnity agreement which all participants are required to read and sign before participating in adventure sports activities. This agreement will affect your legal rights should you be involved in an accident.