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Old 07-22-2014, 04:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Shiga Kogen for Beginners

Hey all,

I'm trying to plan a trip for myself and 4 of my buddies to Japan for Jan '15.

We have been snowboarding only once before, 5 days at Niseko. Most of us can snowboard down greens and most reds, but one of us has never snowboarded before.

We are thinking of hitting up someplace else. What are your thoughts on Shiga Kogen as a resort for beginners? What are the runs like there?

Thanks
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Ive never been there but I will be next season for sure. There are some areas that are skier only supposedly due flat/uphill sections. The base elevation is higher than most japanese resorts so it might be a bit colder.
All in all I think you will be fine, if not try nozawa or myoko as they are pretty close by
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The slopes at shiga kogen aren't too steep and pretty beginner friendly, but it's a massive resort, so try not to get lost
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GastroGenius View Post
Hey all,

I'm trying to plan a trip for myself and 4 of my buddies to Japan for Jan '15.

We have been snowboarding only once before, 5 days at Niseko. Most of us can snowboard down greens and most reds, but one of us has never snowboarded before.

We are thinking of hitting up someplace else. What are your thoughts on Shiga Kogen as a resort for beginners? What are the runs like there?

Thanks
'
Only been for two days a few years back. Tried to explain the whole layout in one post, and my feelings on the place in the second. Possibly the pics have died by now alas, but if you can suffer the blanks, it might give you some sense of it. For context, i was burgeoning intermediate at the time.

Ipp's tries to explain Shiga Kogen - SnowJapanForums

Shiga Kogen February 2011 Review - SnowJapanForums
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Old 08-09-2014, 05:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ippy!!!
Ps fuck snowjapan forums and their whining owners
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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haha, what happened dude? Ive obviously been out of the loop on everything for the past year and a bit Hows the board building business coming along?
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I saw the pies thing, just thought to myself "two ships passing in the night" and carried on loving them both. Didnt seem a big deal. Cant imagine why the SJfams would have gotten involved.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I had to bail. Ive got no desire to be constantly picked at by passive aggressive losers on the internet. Id rather just get attacked in a full blown rage lol. Maybe its due to all the skiers on that forum, Im not sure. You know hows skiers and snowboarders are kind of the same but not really, thats how I feel on sj. Im just not like most of those people.
So I parted ways with sj.

Ippy Im moving to kijimadaira, at the foot of the 45 run! If any of you lads are ever in the area let me know, send me a pm if you want my facebook details or email etc.
Dont have a jp phone number yet.

Last edited by ETM; 08-10-2014 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Back on topic, but HONESTLY... shiga kogen for a group of mates? Not sure its your best fit to be honest. Shiga kogen is VERY japanese. Id say it suits the more 'i love the peace and beauty of nature' crowd. Its more... contemplative than fun.

I mean its a great place and all, dont get me wrong. But since you mentioned youre all in a group and it seems like you might be all mates rather than 2 couples and a kid, you might find the ambience of the place a little quiet.

Id possibly go with ETMs idea. Nozawa, Myoko, or Hakuba might be more fun to be honest. Base yourself around Iiyama for example and you should be able to hit up any of the following in order of personal preference:

Myoko Suginohara: For beginners like yourself, its really going to deliver the perfect goods. Lots of powder, a gentle pitch pretty much all the way own the mountain (except the very top lift), pretty much an entire FUN mountain to play in as well as a true leg burner of a run if youre up for it.

Nozawa: Serene, again, incredibly beautiful place. Lots of gentle lines throughout the mountain, insane powder when it goes off. Lots to do. A few flat parts here and there, but for beginners, once youve got some turns in you, youre going to love chewing our teeth on the skyline. Youll get a good sense of accomplishment from hitting that.

Togari Onsen: SUPER CHEAP (bring passport for discount lift ticket). I love Togari. Part of it is rosy goggles. But its CUTE! The resort has enough fun lines to hit up, lots of little naughty powder stashes, and the whole vibe is seriously beginner friendly (and young). Its the kind of place youll find people burying each other in snow, having snowball fights, and scorpioning in the cutest way imaginable. Its such a fun little place. Totally under-rated for my money. I wouldnt pick it over a day at the other two, but id be tempted to pick it over the rest to follow.

Myoko Akakura: Really if you were a more advanced group this one would be above Togari, but i think its better for intermediates. It really delivers in soft slackcountry and tree riding more than anything else. It has a fair few beginner lines of course, but its a straight gradient curve from bottom to top meaning realistically you might find the top too challenging to be fun, and the bottom too flat to be fun. Still, its a genuinely decent ride out, and isnt hurt by its location near the main town area for a bit of apres fun (suginohara is a few kms away from the main town part). If you base yourself in Myoko, then a couple of days at Suginohara, and a day at Akakan and Ikenotaira should make a decent time of it.

Myoko Ikenotaira: With around ten days of riding unde rmy belt i made my way to Ikenotaira and freaking loved it. Its definitely beginner and very low intermediate friendly. Almost everyone there will either be a) family with young kids; b ) near beginners; or c) park rats. Its got a nice vibe to it, lots of straightforward terrain, completely untouched powder stashes (families stick rigidly to the groomers) and some baby park features if you feel like laughing at each other bailing on some air. Its also, cough, the first place i ever ran under a lift line or ducked a rope.

Myoko Seki: Welcome to powder snow. Ive never made it out there, but its puked on like nowhere else in Japan. Seriously, every year, most snow in Japan. Its small, but if you want that niseko powder, then this might be at the top of your hit list. The resort is pretty much a free space, which of course worries me a little for beginners going there. But if youre up for the challenge, and coped with niseko, you might be alright here. Youd have to research it a bit first before you commit.

Ryuoo: Hmmmmmm... now im taking the piss obviously. Dont come here until you feel comfortable with your turns. Because if you come to ryuoo and dont ride the b course, youre missing out on what makes it awesome. Ive no idea how long youre planning on staying, but id save it until youve got a bit of confidence in you. Its an AWESOME line. But its going to kick the crap out of you. But again, its one of those things that once you make it down, youll feel like youve stepped up a bit. But if you cant face it, there is a great vibe at ryuoo. Its young, its laid back, very student style. Its got ski-in/ski-out accommodation for DIRT CHEAP, and a super friendly beginner area at the base of the mountain. Its basically a nice long base area with a mid teen gradient, then lurches up well into the mid 30s, and finally plateaus at the top on a very soft gradient. Its a brilliant place but you need to really be starting to carve, hold your edge at speed and on total bobbly icy crud to make it fun. You probably also need to be pretty comfortable in the trees or in basic slackcountry to get the best out of it. If you start feeling you can handle it, then definitely have a trek there. Its Nagano's hidden gem. But that part of the hill is definitely not for beginners.

Madarao/Tangram: Hmmmmm... again... a bit more going for it than Ryuoo perhaps, but i cant help but feel that this mountain REALLY suits strong intermediates more than beginners. Sure, it has a lot of terrain thats accessible to beginners, but its really again, the bottom half. The top half once again thrusts up into the mid 30s rapidly. The best thing about it is the off piste policy, and alas you wont really be experiencing much of this. Its also extraordinarily busy, which can get rather frustrating. Still, worth a lookie. I dog on it, but others say im completely off base. So one to maybe check out and ignore me on.


For Apres, your best bets here are definitely the Myoko resorts (basing yourself around Akakura onsen (do not ride at akakura onsen, its a clusterfuck of a resort) or Nozawa. Nozawa is beautiful. Seriously. Proper snow-globe town in the hills. Akakura is a bit more party orientated i guess, but not quite niseko or hakuba style. Its still just really a couple of streets with a few places to get drunk maybe. Not sure how the bogan infestation over the last couple of years is transforming it, (havent really stayed there since 2011), but by all accounts more amenities springing up for the foreign visitor, which cant be a awful thing i guess.

Anyways, not done yet... (broke the character limit )
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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You could be hell bent on Shiga Kogen. And im not going to stop you. This means you might want to think about basing yourself in Yudanaka, and that gives you 4 decent options (in no order this time):

1. Ryuoo: Already mentioned it. But a bus leaves direct from the train station, so its worth a punt. No bus went to Nozawa at the time i stayed there, which is a freaking shame because its only 20 or so KMs away.

2. Shiga Kogen: LOADS AND LOADS to do. But very quiet place. If its all about the ride, the scenery, and the Japanese feel, then hard to beat it. So much ground to cover, so many lines to hit up, so many secrets remaining undiscovered by me personally on a 2 day trip there a few years back. But its pricey.

Accommodation is expensive at the resort itself. Its catering to Japanese travelers so this means families with full service which means pricey for your average reprobate backpacker. If youre loaded, no problem, but im scottish and the idea of paying 10,000 yen per night (with breakfast and dinner), makes me break out in a rash. 4000 makes me squirm to be honest, and thats fekkin cheap. There is also nothing going on at night. As i say, its catered to domestic tourism, and your average Japanese family will come back from a days riding, head to the onsen, eat their dinner, grab a few tins of chu-hai, watch some telly in their room, and then around 10 or 11 go to bed. Of course i know nothing about you other than youre with four mates and you went to niseko. So perhaps this is exactly the experience you want. It is lovely after all. But basing yourself at Yudanaka might be a cheaper option. No nightlife either to be honest, but you at least have a few more convenience stores around.

3. Mt. Kosha. (yomase, x-jam, yamabiko no oka, kijimadaira).

A four mountain ticket that might be right up your street. If you do base yourself in Yudanaka youd be daft not to go play there. In fact if you can ever work it out, you can find a black box deal with accommodation and lift pass for dirt cheap (same at Ryuoo by the way, and i believe akakan).

All four of these resorts offer something utterly different from one another and like shiga kogen, the area you get to ride is HUGE. Unlike shiga kogen though, its right on your doorstep. And its cheap. Yomase is the nearest resort to yudanaka itself. Its a straightforward semi-empty place you can easy cut your teeth on as a beginner group. Lots to ride just in this area. Its quiet, so you can make a pigs ear of things without too much shame. But eventually youll want to move around the mountain, and your next stop is X-Jam.

X-jam is really a massive park area. Youll find it not only HEAVING with student age kids looking to learn to snowboard, youll also find it has the most fun, party atmosphere in maybe all of this side of nagano. Its got a fun, super friendly vibe. People are face planting all over the place and making tits of themselves on boxes (including me - not a park rat). Its got a few lines around it to just play on and some decent steeps. But all in all its a bit short to really keep you stuck there for your full time. Which then brings you to:

Yamabiko: Totally gorgeous little place. Very quiet. Lovely snow and though again a little short, still has an awesome fun pitch to just blast down on it. Comes with a cross course as well with some awesome big rollers to keep everyone happy. Definitely worth hitting it up on your way to:

Kijimadaira: A full resort in itself. Has the gnarliest on piste line youre going to find in Japan i reckons. The top of the mountain is not only a 45 degree plummet, its wind blasted, bobbled to shit, and feels like an ice rink. Its an experience. The lift is also pretty terrifying to be honest Outside that though, kiji has lots of softish/low intermediate lines to keep you going for a day. Plenty to do and see even without the other three resorts to keep you busy. You really need a couple of days to see it all. That being said, you probably need a good three or four days to start feeling tired of shiga kogen as well. So realistically just from these two resorts alone youre pretty much covered on the riding side. The caveat is really that theres no apres scene a all around this area.

Anyways, hope this helps give you a bigger picture. I think i covered them all. But maybe i missed a couple. Im trying to think. Its all a very brief summary of your options on that part of nagano/niigata (myoko is niigata despite being incredibly close to nagano).

To the West of Nagano theres Hakuba of course. And thats also a serious option. But i wont go into that right now.

ETA: I did say 4. Forgot the fourth one:

CULTURE!!!!

A. Monkey Onsen. Yay! monkeys! in an onsen! They think theyre people! Its so adorable!

To be honest, its a massive waste of time. But then again im not really that intrigued by the idea of looking at monkeys. I mean theyre cute and all, but its a bit of a trek and a waste of a day you could be riding. So screw them. But you might wanna see it, so you know... good place to visit them. In fact, the best place to visit them.

B. Obuse: A small village a few stops on the train back into Nagano. (i could also add in nakano, but thats just really a town with town like things but nothing particularly essential outside of a bit of shopping). Obuse on the other hand is gorgeous. Its more villagy in size, but comes with some wonderful chestnut foods as well as a museum dedicated to Hokkusai. The museum is must see and the town is chocolate box stuff. Pop there for a nice relaxing day out after youve wasted time gawping at monkeys ignoring you.

Last edited by ippy; 08-10-2014 at 12:55 AM.
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