This past weekend was a three day weekend, but actually when we were planning this trip Kenji didn’t realize that! It worked out though, and it was nice to have Monday off as a free day… especially considering how sore we both were after two days of snowboarding!
Scott had told us about Shiga Kogen in Nagano, and Kenji had gone before and enjoyed it, so we decided to make what was probably our last snowboarding trip an awesome one. We found a place to stay the night for a decent price, and planned to take it easy for those two days while still getting plenty of boarding in!
We left early in the morning Saturday, passing this spectacular tree on the way to the highway. It isn’t fully opened yet, but we didn’t want to miss it in case it reached full bloom while we were gone. Hitting the highway, we ran into a little bit of traffic, but overall it wasn’t bad, and reached Shiga Kogen around 9-something. Parked, got dressed, grabbed some late breakfast, then headed to the ropeway to begin the day!
Some ice cream while waiting for the ropeway
Once we got across to the other peak, we road up a cute little one-seater to the slopes, with a great view of the moneys as we went up! Monkeys never get old. Shiga Kogen is right next to the monkey onsen Jikokudani. Actually our hotel had warnings to keep the windows closed otherwise monkeys might come in!
The day was really beautiful, and I actually got a little sunburned because of the reflection! It was also quite hot, which I actually prefer to being cold.
The ropeway we rode on, and an old rusted car from it.
Deciding where to go… Shiga Kogen is HUGE! It spans three peaks and is seriously the largest park I have ever been to.
A few pictures of us! The white ferret is Shiga Kogen’s mascot (Kenji), but I don’t know what I was supposed to be… a hamster?
Our ryokan. We were lucky to get the last room! Also, I didn’t get a picture of our room or dinner that night (though it was good!), so I’ll have to grab them from Kenji!
The weather for the weekend showed sun, however a wind storm blew in unexpectedly and changed the weather completely. It rained and snowed a bit that night, and the wind especially was howling pretty loudly!
Breakfast the next morning
Driving on our way to another side of the park, we found this onsen-hot spring pump thing. You can tell by the sky the weather was MUCH colder and windier.
Unfortunately, the slope we chose was overrun with about three different school groups, and the higher slopes were closed because of fog. So we did one disappointing run, and went back to the area under the ropeway for the remaining time. Did a run and then had lunch, and then only spent maybe another hour since the weather turned for the worse.
Snow and wind.
Curry udon for lunch, yum! And Shiga Kogen brand beer, which was really strong!
It didn’t take me long to basically tell Kenji, “I’m done. I’ll wait for you inside” and for him to go “nah, let’s call it a day”. We were getting blasted by high winds and snow, it was much much colder, and the snow had frozen overnight to ice which scared the hell out of me (I HATE ice!) and also made it painful when you fell, which was happening more frequent. So we only got maybe 4 or 5 runs in before quitting, but I was still really happy from the weekend.
We headed back to our hotel’s onsen and had a nice soak, then ate at the ropeway restaurant and finally headed home. Despite the bad weather the second day, I really enjoyed the trip and Shiga Kogen… though it was almost TOO big! Hopefully staying overnight somewhere once a season becomes a tradition, because I really enjoyed it, and it brought me back to our skiing trips from high school! Fun times!
The season is still going on, but I think that may be our last boarding trip this year. But who knows… we may fit one more in!