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Yokoteyama Ski Resort Shiga Kogen

Yokoteyama Ski Resort is one of the Shiga Kogen ski areas, and along with the inter-connected Shibutoge and Kumanoyu, it forms the southern collection of Shiga ski resorts. Snowboarding is now fully allowed, although a strong ski culture is still present at these three ski areas.

The major claim to fame of Yokoteyama is that it’s the highest (real) ski resort in Japan, with the top lift maxing out at 2,307 metres.

Pros and Cons of Yokoteyama Shiga Kogen

  • Yokote is at high elevation and it has a favourable aspect, so it’s the place to head if temps have warmed up at other Nagano or Niigata ski resorts.
  • Yokoteyama and Shibutoge have a very long season.
  • The two ski areas are not heavily trafficked and the only crowds you’ll see are school kids who are unlikely to steal your freshies.
  • Shibutoge has mellow off-piste terrain that’s great for those learning to ski or ride powder.
  • The main Yokoteyama green run is mellow and ideal for nervous beginners and Shibutoge is good for progression.
  • The crumpets at the Crumpet Café are unique and yummy (we know it’s strange to cite crumpets as a ski resort pro!) and the views from the observation deck are impressive.
  • The lifts are slow, and considering the high elevation it can get chilly.
  • The piste offerings are minimal, and if you’re an intermediate or advanced rider wanting to stay on-piste, you’ll be bored after an hour.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective 
  • Whilst it’s starting to loosen its shackles, Yokoteyama is an old-school Japanese ski resort. Don’t expect lots of English, and there are no western friendly services such as an international snowsports school.
  • It is a really quiet and isolated corner of Shiga Kogen, so if you stay there you’ll need to dine at your hotel, and nightlife will consist of buying drinks out of the vending machine.

Yokoteyama Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Yokoteyama is mostly a long narrow ski area with 602 metres of vertical (1,705 to 2,307 metres) and 7 courses. It has 7 lifts although often only 3 consecutive lifts are usually running. The middle triple lift runs at a decent speed, whilst the base lift goes at snail’s pace, and the top double chair isn’t much better, or maybe it just feels that way because it’s often really cold. To ski the upper courses, you always need to take the upper two chair lifts, so it can feel very repetitive. There are a couple of single pizza box chair lifts that run up the lookers’ left of the ski area, although they only run them when they’re really busy which seems like never.

The upper courses don’t run the fall line of the lifts but instead meander round a bit, which is a shame because the fall line would make for some nice steep skiing. The two black runs are not particularly steep and can provide some ideal powder learning turns, although we’ve seen those runs closed a lot so you’ll need to decide whether you’re into rope limbo or not.

Off-piste has some potential for when there is lots of snow cover. Despite a little bit of glading, the trees are tight and the snow ghosts make the turns even more technical, so don’t head in there unless you’re an expert.

The top of Yokoteyama Ski Resort connects to the little Shibutoge Ski Resort. Kumanyo Ski Resort connects to Yokoteyama via a cat track that lands at the base of the 2nd Sky Lift, and to return to Kumanyo you can walk down the road or head there off-piste.

With respect to lift passes, you can get an inexpensive ticket for just Yokote or pay a bit more for the Kumanoyu/Yokote/Shibutoge combo, and a little more again for a Shiga Kogen all-mountain pass.

Shibutoge Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Shibutoge Ski Resort has only 3 courses and one double chair lift. There used to another chair at the top, but it doesn’t seem operational anymore, so you have to skate on a flat area to get back to Yokote.

It is an ideal learning area because it’s quiet and the green run is mellow and the two intermediate runs provide an easy progression. You can head off-piste in amongst widely spaced vegetation and the low gradient slopes make it ideal for powder puppies.

Yokoteyama Snow

Yokoteyama Ski Resort is the highest ski resort in Japan, if you don’t count the tiny Chuo Alps Senjojiki that barely rates a mention. Even the base area of Yokoteyama is higher than the top of most of the Nagano ski resorts that aren’t part of Shiga Kogen (see the Nagano snow statistics for elevations).

A huge drawcard for the Yokote Ski Area is its snow quality, thanks to this high elevation as well as the predominantly northwest aspect. Shibutoge has more of a solar aspect, although the sun doesn’t affect the snow quality much during winter considering the altitude.

Yoketeyama has a very long season that goes from November through to May. Shibutoge extends the season to late May or even into early June, and during these spring months the road around to the base opens (this is the road that is the highest point of Japan’s national routes and heads over into Gunma to Manza Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen).

As you’d expect considering the elevation, the snow can get battered by high winds, and the juhyo snow monster trees are a bit of an indication of the ferocity with which snowstorms can hit the upper slopes.

Where is Yokoteyama Ski Resort Shiga Kogen?

Yokoteyama Ski Resort is one of the southern Shiga Kogen ski areas and connected to the northern Shiga areas only by shuttle bus or car. Yokoteyama Ski Resort sits in the Nagano Prefecture whilst the base of Shibutoge is just over the border of Gunma Prefecture, and the only way to get to Shibutoge during winter is via Yokoteyama.

Yokoteyama is 18km southeast of the onsen town of Yudanaka and 16.5km from Shibu Onsen near the snow monkeys.

From the Tokyo Airports you can get a Nagano snow shuttle to get there, or you can catch trains to Nagano Station and then a Nagaden bus, although these are not very regular. See the Shiga Kogen travel page for more general tips.

Yokoteyama Accommodation

There is a small collection of old daggy hotels at the base of the ski area that are mostly frequented by school groups. You’d be better off staying across the road at one of the Kumanoyu hotels or other Shiga Kogen accommodation. Or you could stay in accommodation in Yudanaka or Shibu Onsen, which make a nice base to visit various ski resorts.

Ski Resort Facilities

Ski rental equipment at the base is antique and you might find a better range across the road at the Shiga Palace Hotel. Snowsports lessons are not available in English, but you could just follow around the school groups and see what they get up to!

There is a cafeteria at the Rest House at the base of Yokoteyama Ski Resort, but the highlight of dining is to head to the top to the Crumpet Café where there is an array of sweet and savoury crumpets on offer. Also head out to the observation deck for the mountain views and see how many Nagano and Niigata ski resorts you can identify.

Snowcat tours are available in the evening to see the snow monsters. The sunset and evening views of Kusatsu town and Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture are nice. As for the snow monsters (the snow caked trees), you might as well just look at these during the day when you’re skiing. These only develop in the height of winter and they’re not a patch on the Hakkoda or Zao Onsen snow ghosts.

Note that the Honshu ski resort ratings include Yokoteyama as a standalone ski resort. There are also ratings for Shiga Kogen which are mostly higher because it factors in all that Shiga Kogen has to offer.

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Shiga Backcountry Tours
Single & Multi-Day Tours
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Venture into the backcountry of Shiga Kogen with guides with your private group. Have the mountain to yourselves. Go for easy hikes, learn avalanche safety skills, or go ski touring to explore further afield.
Price p/p *based on per person in a private group of 3 for a full day tour for 2024.
base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
Displayed rates might vary to actual due to exchange rate fluctuations.
USD 103
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TOUGE GOE Backcountry & Sidecountry Tour
6 Nights | 5 Days Guided - Shigakogen + Other Ski Areas
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This powder adventure is based in the onsen town of Yudanaka near Shiga Kogen. The Japanese lead guide is a qualified backcountry guide & accompanied by another local guide who were born and raised in Shigakogen so they can show you the best secret local powder stashes.
Price p/p This is the price per person for two guests (couple or friends) staying in a twin or double room using the shared bathroom. For solo travellers, a private twin or double room (sole use) is from Y309,000.
USD 1,909
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Guided Powder Tours
Single & Multi-Day Guiding
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Explore the off-piste and sidecountry at the massive ski area of Shiga Kogen or another nearby ski area. Guiding is for private groups or group tours are available some days.
Price p/p *based on per person in a private group of 5 for a 5 hour tour.
base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
Displayed rates might vary to actual due to exchange rate fluctuations.
USD 74
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See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit Yokoteyama here