Things to do in Shiga Kogen
Visit the Snow Monkeys
Shiga Kogen is the closest ski resort to the world famous Snow Monkey park. While from other resorts you need to take a tour or rent a car, a trip to the Snow Monkeys from Shiga Kogen can easily be done by public transport.
Nagaden Buses run frequently between Shiga Kogen and either Yudanaka or Nagano Station. Both lines run via the Snow Monkey Park.
It is a bit of a hike from the bus stop to the entrance to the park, so good shoes are recommended. In winter it can get very cold and ski wear is often the best option.
The bus stop is located in front of the Shiga Kogen Roman Museum, and the first part of the walk is a bit of a steep climb, but once you get on the main track it is quite easy going, until to get to the park entrance where you need to climb a few steps and walk up a slope.
The park itself is not that large, and can be walked around in 20 minutes easily, but most people take a lot longer as they interact with the monkeys. Feeding the monkeys is strictly forbidden, and the monkeys do not look to visitors for food, but if you leave things lying unattended, they will steal them.
Entrance is 800yen for Adults (18+yrs) and 400yen for Children (6-17yrs).
The park is generally open from 09:00 – 16:00 but hours can vary with weather conditions.
Visit Zenkoji Temple
Zenkoji Temple is one of Japan’s most famous, and one of the few remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan. With the main deity thought to have come over from India in the 6th century, and move around before settling in Nagano. During the “Sengoku” period (warring states) it was moved to Kyoto, but was subsequently returned to Nagano.
The main deity is a hidden image is never shown to the public (even the priests are not allowed to view it), but a replica is put on display every 7 years in a ceremony called Gokaicho. This happens in spring time and draws literally millions of visitors to Nagano.
The current main payer hall dates back to 1707, however some of the bells have an even longer history.
It is easy to walk or Zenkoji from Nagano Station, but it is often better to catch a taxi, then walk back to the station, as the walk is downhill and very pleasant. If you time it right, lunch at the Fujiya restaurant is also highly recommended.
Entrance is free to much of the temple, but the pitch-black pathway under the altar requires a fee.