Centered in Joshin’etsu Kogen National Park, Shiga Heights is surrounded by 2,000-meter soaring peaks such as spectacular Mt. Shiga and Mt. Yokote and is dotted with some 70 lakes and natural ponds. The whole area is a nature’s paradise and a treasure trove of scenic attractions. Shiga Heights boasts Mother Nature’s seasonally changing splendor fresh verdure and alpine flora through spring and summer to brocades of foliage in autumn, and the snowy white landscapes in winter.
A number of nature walks are offered that allow the visitor to easily enjoy the area’s diversified landscapes and scenic attractions. Walking, hiking and various other outdoor activities abound in this truly natural setting. Winter offers up to 21 enticing ski areas in an outstanding natural setting surrounded by superb panoramic views. Take up the challenge of skiing down the very slopes which were once the stage for Winter Olympic alpine events.
Perched at the foot of Shiga Heights, the Yudanaka/Shibu hot-spring resort area is composed of nine spa towns along three rivers ? namely the Yokoyu, Kadoma and Yomase rivers. Legend has it that hot springs were first discovered here some 1,300 years ago. Since then, this resort has made a name for itself because of the high quality and abundance of hot water that has been patronized by so many, including the mighty warlord Takeda Shingen, the famed strategist and philosopher Sakuma Zozan (early to mid-19th century) as well as illustrious writers and artists such as the haiku master Kobayashi Issa and the great ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai (both late 18th to early 19th centuries). These quaint spa towns exude a truly relaxing atmosphere with their stone-paved walks where strollers’ wooden clogs clack crisply among the historic bathhouses from the days of yore. There is even a hot spring where wild monkeys enjoy bathing ? a charming sight to behold. The abundant waters differ in type and quality from spring to spring, allowing overnight guests and day visitors alike to enjoy making the rounds of public bathing facilities. The Yudanaka/Shibu resort is highly recommended to those seeking the ultimate in relaxation.
At the foot of Mt. Kosha is Kita-Shiga Heights, a highland resort dotted with four ski areas, three hot-spring resorts, hotels and lodges. It is alive with the young and young at heart especially in the summer season. With the green season, visitors can enjoy hiking and exploring a mountain marshland or tour the natural environment near picturesque rural communities, as well as horseback riding and various other outdoor sports. Or enjoy a “stroll in the air” floating upwards on one of the world’s largest ropeways. Try your hand at soba (buckwheat) noodle making and crafting your own bamboo ware. Fruit picking is still another opportunity to gain insight into the local culture and its hospitable people. All in all, let these experiences enhance your enjoyment as they are certain to make your visit unforgettable.