Getting To Shiga Kogen By Plane
Tokyo Narita is the most convenient gateway airport for most travellers getting To Shiga Kogen. Another option is Matsumoto airport which is closer to Nagano, with JAL flights from Osaka Itami, Fukuoka and Sapporo New-Chitose airports.
Matsumoto to Shiga Kogen. 105km (65 miles);
Yudanaka railway station to Shiga Kogen: 20km (12 miles).
Travel from Narita Airport to Nagano
The Narita Express train (NEX) has frequent departures from the Tokyo Narita Airport terminals to the city of Tokyo. The trip takes about 1 hour. From Tokyo catch the bullet train to Nagano which takes about 100 minutes. Departures are pretty regular during the main part of the day, but you can check Hyperdia for specific times. Nagano is at the end of the line so there’s no fear you’ll miss your stop! If you arrive into Nagano late in the day you may need to stop-over in one of the Nagano hotels.The most economical way to catch the NEX and the Shinkansen is to buy a Japan Rail pass. A JR East 4 day pass provides four days of flexible train travel over a one month period. Purchase the voucher and then exchange it for the rail pass at the Narita train station.
For train travel to Nagano from Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, or other parts of Japan, see Hyperdia for schedules, routes and fares.
Getting To Shiga Kogen By Road
By Bus from Nagano to Shiga Kogen
You may wish to 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. Nagaden buses depart regularly from the east (Higashi) exit bus stops. There are schedules listed on the bus stops in English or you can check the Nagaden Express website for the latest timetables (in Japanese but hopefully you can use google translator). The bus stops at many of the Shiga Kogen villages and all three wings of the Prince Hotel at Yakebi. The bus trip takes about 70 minutes from Nagano to Sun Valley and another 10-15 minutes to Ichinose and Yakebi. The bus fare needs to be paid in cash on the bus and it costs ¥1,900 one way if you’re going to the upper ski areas (which is applicable to most people), or ¥1,600 if only going to Sun Valley, Maruike or Hasuike (2011 rates). If you’re staying at the south-eastern end of Shiga Kogen (not many westerners stay here), there are only a couple of buses each day that go from Nagano to Kumanoyu. The other option is to catch a bus to Hasuike, and then get the local shuttle to Kumanoyu or Yokoteyama.
Driving to Shiga Kogen
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 highly recommended or even chains. The drive from Yamanouchi town up to the main parts of Shiga Kogen takes about 20-30 minutes.
Private Transport Providers
The Nagano Snow Shuttle Bus connects Tokyo Narita Airport directly to various Shiga Kogen villages. However, there’s only one a day leaving Tokyo Narita airport in the late afternoon.
Getting Around Shiga Kogen
Shiga Kogen is very spread out. The villages are set along a mountainous road approximately 21km long.
Shuttle buses operate between the villages, which are free if you have a lift pass. Shuttle bus timetables are available from the Hasuike Information Centre, the Nagano Information Centre, or on the bus stops. The shuttles operate from 8:30am to 17:30, so evening transport is very limited. The Prince Hotel Yakebitaiyama provides a shuttle service between the three hotel buildings and Ichinose. The last bus leaves Ichinose at 9:30pm with a special late night service at 9:50pm on Saturday nights (that’s their idea of a late night!!).
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 taxis come from the bottom of the mountain.