Nagano has many winter resorts, very suitable for skiing enthusiasts. E.g. Hakuba (the resort's powdery snow is said to be of the highest quality in the region) and Shiga Kogen (with 21 ski areas, including some courses used in the 1988 Winter Olympics). During our Shinkansen train ride from Tokyo to Nagano, we saw quite a number of young Japanese people boarding the train with their ski equipment and snow boards.
Shiga Kogen is the largest ski resort in Japan! Well, it actually comprises of 3 mountain peaks with all the different levels and slopes linked up by cable car or ski-lifts. in 1998, many Winter Olympics events were held here. It is huge. You will need a couple of days to ski around this whole area. There are 21 ski slopes and 72 lifts! It is located in the Northeastern part of Nagano. The scenery was beautiful. You are surrounded by mountains, trees, and lots of snow. I am just a beginner at skiing, so I stuck to the beginner's slopes the whole weekend. I accidentally went down some 'medium difficulty' slopes that were linked onto the beginner's (I didn't see the sign to turn left or right to keep on the beginner's slope!) and had a lot of difficulty skiing the medium slopes! In fact, to be precise, I spent most of my time on my bum or twisted into strange positions with my skis tangled up! However, to people who have better co-ordination than I at skiing or snowboarding, these mountains would be fantastic to explore. Mostly, you will find long cruising runs, but there are several steep and challenging long runs, with a course called the Giant's Course (sounds scary!). There are many cafes with hot drinks and hearty meals to stop and refuel at while you are up on the mountain.
My Favorite time of day was when I took my aching muscles and soaked them in the hotel's Japanese style hot bath!