Green Season

Japanese Culture

There are many Japanese cultural activities to try while visiting the Nagano and Shiga Kogen area. These can be accessed on your own or through guided tours with professional, bilingual tour guides familiar with the area. Please see the Guided Tours page for more information. Attractions include:

Hiking
Sunshine Trail
Asahiyama Tozan Course
Okushiga Shirakaba Enro Course

This is an easy paved stroll around Lake Biwa that is wheelchair accessible (one difficult steep section). You can visit the Hasuike Nature Conservation Center and learn about the local environment and aquatic vegetation, or explore the beautiful Mizunashi Pond.

  • Distance: 3.9 km
  • Time: 60 min
  • Vertical: 70 meters
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map

There is a spruce planted at the peak of Mt. Asahiyama commemorating Prince Chichibu (the Showa Emperor’s brother). The sight from the top is spectacular, with a view of the onsen village below and the five Hokushin peaks in the distance. Along the trail is Ichinuma, perfect for shooting photos.

  • Time: 90 min
  • Vertical: 140 meters
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Map

This trail in Okushiga Kogen is a gentle stroll famous for its Shirakaba (white birch) and Buna (beech) trees. On the way back, check out the area around Lake Shirakaba where you can often see a variety of plant species, dragon flies and butterflies.

  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Time: 80 min
  • Vertical 50 meters
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map
Okura Shindo Course
Shinano Ki Course
Ike Meguri Course

This leisurly walking trail was built by the Okura family in the 1920s when they spent extensive time in the Happo Onsen area. Various imperial princes and princesses enjoyed these paths and scenery.

  • Distance: 2.7 km
  • Time: 75 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map

In the middle of this trail is an especially large Shinanoki (basswood) that is a Nagano Prefecture natural heritage item. Said to be one of the top 2 largest trees in Japan, the circumference reaches an astonishing 10 meters. Starting at the Diamond Wetlands, this trail is rich in flora during all seasons.

  • Distance: 2 km
  • Time: 40 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map

The Ike Meguri Course is one of the most recognizable trails in Shiga Kogen. It takes you through various lakes and wetlands above Maeyama, from panoramic vistas to amazing aquatic plants to the 48 lakes and the Emerald Green Onumaike. This hike is sure to excite people of all interests and hiking levels.

  • Distance: 10.3 km
  • Time: 210 min
  • Vertical 200 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Map
Shimizu Shindo
Seseragi Course
Toge no Sanjusan Kanon Course

A trail connecting the Ike Meguri Course and the Shizen Tasho Course. It is possible to connect from this course to Onumaike, Hasuike and Kidoike. Take your time in this easily accessible nature trail.

  • Distance: 1.4 km
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Map

A walking path along the Kozakkogawa river. Along with the seasonal flowers and aquatic plants that can be observed, this area is a preservation site for an indigenous species of trout called Char.

  • Distance: 1.3 km
  • Time: 60 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Map

The 33 Kannon (Buddha statues) were like signposts for pilgrims who used to travel on this ancient road between Shiga Kogen and Kusatsu. Each of the Kannon have a story to tell through their inscribed poems. You can even purchase a pilgrim’s stampbook for 1,000 yen.

  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Time: 150 min (+60 uphill)
  • Vertical: 649 meters
  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Map
Shizen Tansho Course
Maga Tama no Oka Course
Mt. Shiga Tozan Course

This trail is beautiful from the beginning of Spring when fresh green shoots appear to the end of Autumn when the leaves change to brilliant colors. An optimum trail for viewing a wide range of Shiga Kogen nature.

  • Distance: 5.5 km
  • Time: 120 min
  • Vertical: 160 meters
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Map

The path ascends and descends Magatama no Oka. From the Nagaike Wetlands, one can see megalyths dotting the virgin forest while learning about the surrounding area through explanatory signboards (Japanese only). Trail maintained by Shinshu University.

  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Time: 120 min
  • Vertical: 180 meters
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Map

A highly recommended walk overlooking the multiple peaks and lakes of Shiga Kogen. On the saddle of the ridgeline, one can observe species of highland flowers and in mid October, occasionally see the stunning contrast of white early frost and red late Autumn leaves at the same time.

  • Distance: 6.0 km
  • Time: 270 min
  • Vertical: 300 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Map
Mt. Yakebitai Tozan Course
Iwasuge Tozan Course
Kasagatake Tozan Course

The views from the Yakebitaiyama peak are exceptional, with ski resort grassland and Abies Fir forests spreading out below. The highland grasses and Chigo Pond are a couple of the famous sites along this trail, along with the exceptional Autumn colors visible from the gondola.

  • Distance: 9.0 km
  • Time: 130 min
  • Vertical: 400 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Map

The trail heads for the full-fledged climbing courses, Higashidateyama and Araitazawa are found here. Passing through fields of mountain flowers, virgin forest and steep climbs rewards you with a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.

  • Distance: 18.5 km
  • Time: 390 min
  • Vertical: 700 meters
  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Map

A difficult climb that requires the use of a chain rope near the summit. Indigenous plants species such as Lingonberry can be found here in the harsh rocky terrain. You can also reach the summit’s tea house by car when there is no snow.

  • Distance: 7.0 km
  • Time: 240 min
  • Vertical: 350 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Map
Hachiyama/Mt. Yokote Tozan Course
Akaishiyama Tozan Course

From the Yonjuyon Ike (44 Lakes) pass by Hachiyama (2041 meters) towards Mt. Yokote (2307 meters). Going through forests of Abies Fir and reed bamboo (Sasa Kurilensis), you reach the viewing point on Yotoke’s mountainside. You can continue enjoying the view while making your way up Mt. Yokote.

  • Distance: 6.5 km
  • Time: 180 min
  • Vertical: 325 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Map

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A great traverse train of a mountain ridge. After passing through the quiet, deep woods to Teragoya, you reach another ridgeline that boarders Nagano and Gunma Prefectures. The two iconic stone peaks symbolize Akaishiyama. From here, you can see most of Shiga Kogen including Onumaike Lake.

  • Distance: 11.5 km
  • Time: 300 min
  • Vertical: 549 meters
  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Map
Drive

Driving is a fantastic way to see parts of Japan that most tourists never get to experience. With well maintained roads, interesting stops, one of the safest countries on the planet, and helpful people for when you get lost, there is no reason not to get a rental car and explore this beautiful country for yourself.

Some popular drives in the area include driving to Nozawa Onsen (see map), Sakae Village (see map) and Manza Onsen (see map). Nozawa Onsen is a hot springs village at the base of a ski resort. It has 13 free hot springs scattered around the village and excellent nightlife, particularly in the Winter. The route through the mountains is not open during the Winter but there is a road through Iiyama City. The route to Sakae Village takes you through some of the most stunning vistas in Japan. Kiriake Onsen is a popular destination on this route, occurring naturally in the Nakatsu River. This route is not open during the Winter. Manza and Kusatsu Onsens are popular tourist destinations for Japanese wanting to soak in some hot water and enjoy spectakular views. You can also follow this route through Tsumagoi and Sugadaira to Suzaka and Obuse and eventually back to Shiga Kogen (see map).

More Information on Rafting, Kayaking, Camping and Canyoneering on the Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery Page!