- Ski resort(s)
By Jean-Luc Brassard
Nagano is now a name that most of us are familiar with. This fabulous city is located deep in a sheltered inland valley where you’ll find the Japanese Alps and the Hakuba sector on the south side and Okushiga Kogen—the biggest interconnected ski area in Japan—on the north side.
Make your way to the national park on the road to Shiga to see the incredibly photogenic Japanese macaque monkeys who like to hang out in the sulphurous spring waters deep at the bottom of a valley. Located en route to the mountain, this place is well worth the stop. Be sure to bring your camera! The trip up to Shiga is spectacular, as much for the long, windy roads as for the incredible snow accumulation. The Okushiga Kogen ski area is the last one you’ll come across along the way— in what is literally a hole full of snow!
The mountain’s new administration is extremely proactive and is busily expanding its glade skiing options… after all, isn’t this the reason most people go skiing in Japan? Although the resort only has 10 runs, off-piste areas seem almost limitless and the abundant Japanese snow is always fresh! Plus, there are so few customers here that you won’t have to wait for the lifts. And, as another added bonus, Japanese skiers generally have a preference for groomed slopes, which means you will have the forest powder all to yourself! Does it get any better? Okushiga Kogen doesn’t have much to offer on the après-ski or nightlife front… but who cares? After a full day of non-stop skiing, you’ll be wanting to hit the pillow way more than the dance floor!