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How to get to the Snow Monkeys this Winter


December 8th, 2010 by Tyler
Category Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

As the famed “Snow Monkeys” of the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park are starting to get their namesake snow this winter, it’s time to take a look at how to actually make the trek to go see them.

Nagano Dentetsu, the main source of public transportation up to the Jigokudani snow monkeys, annonced their new winter schedule, with the changes effective 04-December 2010.

Getting to the monkey park from Nagano Station can be confusing — do you take a bus or train? And if you go by train, how do you get to the park from the end of the line, Yudanaka Station? As many of our guests here at Kamesei Ryokan make day trips to see the snow monkeys, I made a graph that matches up the trains from our local Togura Station to the busses and trains from Nagano Station.  Here’s the graph.  Just ignore the Togura parts if you’re originating from Nagano Station.  And please note that these are just sample times based around going up in the morning and coming back down in the afternoon.  There are other busses and trains at earlier and later times.
snow-monkey1

From Nagano Station
Basically there are three options to get from Nagano Station to the snow monkey park:

1. Express Bus to Kanbayashi (1300 yen)
NagaDen Bus operates 8+ busses a day during the winter from Nagano Station’s East Exit up to the ski fields at Shiga Kogen. They stop at Kanbayashi Onsen (“Kanbayashi Onsen Guchi” stop) which is in the vicinity of the Kanbayashi trailhead. From there it is a 30 minute, mostly flat ‘promenade’ through a beautiful cedar forest.

2. Train to Yudanaka (1,130~1,230 yen)
Nagano Dentetsu provides train service to Yudanaka and Shibu, a pair of classic onsen towns. Service is more frequent than the above-mentioned express busses, and you can choose between local trains (1,130 yen, approx. 1 hour 15 min.) and express trains (add’l 100 yen, as fast as 45 minutes).
NOTE: From Yudanaka Station to the monkey park, you can choose from the following:
A. Local Bus (210 yen)
Roughly matching up with the train arrivals, local busses connect Yudanaka Station to the Kanbayashi trailhead in a quick 7 minutes.
B. “Holiday Shuttle” (800 yen)
Shibu Onsen provides a “Holiday Shuttle” bus from Yudanaka Station directly to the Jigokudani Parking Lot. It is closer to the monkey park entrance than Kanbayashi (15 minutes walk vs. 30 minutes), but is a lot steeper of a walk. Reservations Recommended (tel# 0269-33-3600). The Shuttle runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from December to March, with 6 runs each direction per day.

3. Chuo Taxi (from 2,722 yen per person round trip)
Chuo Taxi is offering a new, hassle-free taxi trip to the snow monkey park from Nagano Station. The cost is 17,000 yen for a regular taxi (4~5 people) or 24,500 yen for a jumbo taxi (~9 people) including transportation to Kanbayashi and back, and stand-by time so you can enjoy the monkeys for an hour. Call 026-282-7777 for reservations.

Finally, two last pieces of advice:  Make sure you have proper footwear (the trail can be slippery and slidey in the winter), and make sure to charge you

 

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47 Responses to “How to get to the Snow Monkeys this Winter”

  1. Ken says:

    Hello

    We are intending to visit on 27 dec. we will be driving t the place.
    Is there precaution or things we need to watch for?

    thanks

    Ken

  2. Tyler says:

    Ken-san, Thank you for your comment.
    *Driving directions available on the Monkey Park website, http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp
    *You would be wise to plan for winter driving conditions (i.e., snow tires highly advised).
    Also, make sure to have proper footwear. Have fun, and say ‘hi’ to the snow monkeys for me!

  3. Haru says:

    Tyler-san,

    Howdy!
    As for the Snow Monkey taxi info, Chuo taxi just updated their website.

    Please take a look at this page.
    See http://www.chuotaxi.co.jp/index.php?id=8
    And see the bottom of the page:snow monkey taxi.

    Really hope people from abroad can enjoy Nagano and its wonderful nature and much more.

    Take care!

  4. [...] ‘em or love ‘em, The Snow Monkeys are a firm favourite on the Nagano Must-See list. See here for Access info. [...]

  5. Mira says:

    Hi,

    I’m Mira from Indonesia.

    I together with 7 adults and 8 children will go to Nagano on December 29, 2012 (stay 1 night).

    I would like to go to Shiga Kogen Skii (to take the children to see and touch the snow and also take picture only) and also to go to Jigokudani Yaen Koen to see the snow monkeys.

    My questions are:
    1. What is the best route from Nagano Station (we will have JR pass) to go there? Which one is coming first, the ski place or the snow monkey?

    2. What is the best transportation we should take?

    3. How much does it cost for the transportation and the ticket fee to go both place?

    Many thanks and waiting for your reply

    Mira

  6. Tyler says:

    Mira-san,

    Thanks for your inquiry. Sounds like you’re planning a fun expedition!

    To answer your questions,

    The Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is located at the base of Shiga Kogen, so it comes first.

    Regarding transportation, Nagaden (the local train & bus company; NOTE: unfortunately no JR service to either Jigokudani or Shiga Kogen) has provided a Shiga Kogen + Jigokudani Pass in the past. However, I just checked with a buddy who runs a hotel at Shiga Kogen. He said they can provide free shuttle service between Shiga Kogen and the Jigokudani/ Kanbayashi/ Yudanaka area. So I suggest taking the Shiga Kogen bus from Nagano Station to your hotel at Shiga Kogen, drop off your luggage, play in the snow, and take the shuttle (maybe on your way back down) to the snow monkeys. Try contacting Motohiro Onezawa, the proprietor of Shiga Park Hotel, http://www.shiga-park.co.jp. His e-mail address is motohiro@shiga-park.co.jp.

    Finally, Nagano-Kanbayashi (trailhead for Jigokudani) bus is 1300 yen, Jigokudani entrance fee is 500 yen for adults, 250 yen for children.

  7. Kang says:

    Hi there,

    I’m Kang from Australia. I’ll be staying at Ryokan Biyu no Yado in Yamanouchi. This ryokan is located approximately 10 minutes from Yudanaka station on the Nagano Dentetsu line. I was just wondering if there’s a way to get to the snow monkeys by 9:30am and BACK by 5:00pm. Also is there anything else that may be interesting or worth stopping over around the Jigokudani; shrines or local villages will do.

    Arigatou Gozaimasu

  8. Tyler says:

    Kang-san, Thanks for the message. To answer your questions, it would help to have a bit more information. For example, when you say ‘Back by 5pm’, do you mean back to the inn, back to Nagano City, or where? And as for other places of interest in the area, ‘shrines or local villages’ is a bit vague. For example, for shrines/ temples, are you interested in historical ones, spiritual ones, ones with architectural interest, etc. For villages, remote mountain ones, or onsen villages, or what? And for transportation, are you going to be walking, or rental car, or train? Without any additional info, I’ll take a stab at answering, as follows:

    Shrine — Biyu is located in Yudanaka, which is a sister onsen-town to Shibu, which is located between Yudanaka and Jigokudani. (All 3 are districts in Yamanouchi Town and are all within walking distance of each other.) In between Yudanaka and Shibu is a peace temple with a massive bell that you can ring.

    Local Village — Shibu is a classic onsen with cobblestone streets and 3 story wooden ryokans right out of an anime movie. Shibu’s O-Yu public bath will give you a chance to experience their hot spring mineral waters.

    For more info, I’m sure the folks at Biyu can help. And/or check out Zeno’s Guide. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but is full of information. Enjoy your stay!

  9. Mark says:

    Konnichi wa Tyler-San,

    I am wanting to visit the Monkey Park from Hakuba (Day Trip).

    Is there somewhere that lists the Bus Time table from Hakuba -> Nagano -> Kanbayashi Onsen and return in english..?

    I will be travelling in early January, is the walk from the Kanbayashi Bus Stop easy enough (2 males in mid 20′s)? is there a taxi option at this time of the year?

    Thanks

    Mark

  10. Tyler says:

    Mark-san,
    Konnichi wa to you, too!
    Hakuba -> Nagano bus time schedule at http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/express/nagano_hakuba/
    Nagano -> Kanbayashi can be done with a train/bus combination but in winter there are 10 busses a day that leave from Nagano Station and head up to the ski slopes at Shiga Kogen, conveniently stopping at Kanbayashi, schedule (now with English!) at http://www.nagadenbus.co.jp/robus/2012fuyu/shigawin.htm
    There are snow monkey tours from Hakuba on pretty much a daily basis, but then you’re limited to their schedule. http://www.japanspecialists.com/files/hakuba_day.html
    As for the walk from Kanbayashi to the snow monkey park, little 70-year old ladies could make it so I’m sure 2 twenty-year old dudes could.
    Enjoy the slopes at Hakuba, and say ‘hi’ to the monkeys for me.
    -Tyler

  11. Jan says:

    Tyler san, thank you for the this information, I am Jan from Sydney. We plan to visit the monkey park on mid Dec 2013. Our plan in travel from Nagoya-Nagano-Jigokudani Monkey Park-Nagano-Tokyo (stay at Tokyo) on day trip. We will take the bus from nagano to Kabanyashi and maybe try the electric train on the way back to nagano. I just wondering, Is it ussually snowing in mid December? Where is the best and practical place to have lunch? Nagona station or Kabanyashi or Yudanaka? What time we should return from monkey park if we want reach Yudanaka station before dark in mid Dec?

    cheers,
    Jan

  12. Tyler says:

    Jan-san, Thank you for your comment. Your 1-day itinerary is quite aggressive, but not impossible. JR Ltd. Express “Shinano” from Nagoya to Nagano takes approx. 3 hours. So assuming you got an early start, you reach Nagano Station mid-morning. Hopefully your arrival is coordinated with one of the busses to Shiga Kogen that stop at Kanbayashi. Depending on how much waiting time you have at Nagano Station, you may want to grab lunch there (various options, from Mickey D’s to high-end soba restaurants). Otherwise there are a handful of restaurants at Kanbayashi (noodle shop ‘Mokubei’ has you covered for ramen noodles, spaghetti noodles or yakisoba noodles). And/or there is the rustic soba shop at Korakukan across the river from the monkey park.
    Monkey park closes at 4pm in the winter so you’ll get kicked out before things get too dark.
    As for snow, I’d say you have a 50/50 chance.
    Having said all that, can I add one more thing for your consideration? While the monkeys are cute, Nagano has more than just monkeys. There are cool castles, venerable temples, resort towns, winter sports, onsens, great ryokans to stay in, etc. that make Nagano deserve more than just a day trip!

  13. Peter and Katie says:

    Hi Tyler,
    We enjoy your blog! We are planning a family holiday (from Australia) which will take us to Nagano Mid December 2013. We hope to stay 3 or 4 nights and have a budget of around 22,000 yen per day for accommodation for five of us (2 parents and 3 uni/school age kids). Where is a good base, so we can get to things by public transport (we will have JR pass)? At the moment our plan includes the monkeys, staying near traditional architecture (Shibu maybe?), getting into an outdoor spa, Matsumoto castle and probably more. Any suggestions for a spot to stay? We like Ryokans but will also be renting apartments to help keep costs manageable.

    Finally, any suggestions on things to do or see in mid-winter? We won’t be skiing on this trip.

    We will be coming by JR from Tokyo.

    Many thanks
    Peter and Katie

  14. Jan says:

    Thank you for you information, about staying at ryokan, still negotiating with my city oriented family :) )

  15. Deborah Fong says:

    Hi,

    We have 2 families with 6 kids (7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15). We plan to visit the monkey park around 12/23 and stay 1 night in an onsen ryokan in Shibu onsen area. Is the hike up to the monkey park easy? Can young kids <10 make it with snow boots? Is the path quite wide? Is it typically icy with snow? I'm just a bit concerned.

    Any tips will be helpful.

    Thanks,
    Deborah

  16. Emily says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for this informative website!

    We are planning to visit Jigokudani park (coming from Shibukawa/Ikaho area) on November 13, 2013. We will be driving a car and hope that route 292 will still be in driving condition. We plan to drive from Ikaho to Shirane (Yugama crater lake), and then to the monkey park, and then end at Kusatsu.

    We are in the process of reserving our rental car, and are unsure of whether we should rent snow tires for this time of year, or borrow tire chains for the snow? Does it typically snow up there at this point?

    Thank you,
    Emily

  17. Tyler says:

    Emily-san, Thanks for your inquiry. The mountains around Shirane-san and Jigokudani (i.e. “Shiga Kogen”) might start to get dustings of snow around mid-November but it would be very unusual for there to be enough snow on the roads to require snow tires then. Also, allow me one suggestion: Kusatsu is great but if you are driving all the way across Shiga Kogen to the snow monkey park, you may want to consider staying at Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen adjacent to Jigokudani. I hope you enjoy the trip!

  18. Tyler says:

    Deborah-san, Sounds like the monkeys will have some competition for attention when your 6 kids show up! The path from the Kanbayashi trailhead usually only takes about 30 minutes to walk so it is not very long. It is also pretty level, too (besides being very picturesque). Our kids have walked it at much younger ages than yours, and were fine. They enjoyed frollicking in the snow along the way. The path is well-travelled so even with a heavy snow fall, I’ve never heard of anyone getting lost. There might not even be any snow on the ground at that time, but if there is then snow boots are definitely recommended.
    Also, if the Shibu Snow Monkey Shuttle is running, it would take you to the other trailhead on the other side of the river. That would make for a shorter (approx. 15 minutes) but much steeper walk. Your place of lodging should be able to help with reservations. Have fun, and say ‘hi’ to the monkeys for me!

  19. Tyler says:

    Peter-san, Katie-san, Aussies coming to Nagano in the winter and not for skiing? I think you’re setting some sort of new record! Anyways, to answer your questions,
    Place to Stay: Being an innkeeper myself, I’m a bit biased. The “Accommodations” page on the Go-Nagano website is a good place to start. Shibu does have some really cool architecture, and in her sister onsen resort, Yudanaka, practically all accommodations have their own outdoor onsen bath or recommendations for ones you could go to.
    Things to Do and See: My top recommendation is taking a ninjitsu lesson by a real, live Togakure-do ninja. The ninja places up at Togakushi close for the winter, but one master has opened a dojo by Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City, http://www.go-nagano.net/blog/?p=6244. As for other suggestions, if you can indicate your area of interest (historical, non-skiing winter sports like skating, snowshoeing, bobsleigh et al, hiking, onsen-hopping, cultural, cuisine, art museums, etc.), I would be glad to help. Meanwhile, the Go-Nagano site is chock-full of ideas, too. I hope your family enjoys Nagano’s early winter.

  20. Andy says:

    Dear Tyler,

    First of all, thanks for the great information you have here. I immediately decided on taking chuo taxi after reading your info (based on the fact that i am traveling with my 70 yr old folks and 1 yr old baby). From Nagano in january, how long does it take typically on chuo taxi to arrive monkey park? Can we survive without snow boots on the trail?.
    tokyo
    Our plan is to arrive from tokyo around noon, visit the monkey park then back to nagano for zenkoji, then stay at a shukubo (temple lodging), experience the morning session then back to tokyo. Problem is we can hardly find english information on booking a shukubo, would you happen to have any contacts there too that we can use to book one?

    Thank you!
    Andy

  21. Tyler says:

    Andy-san, Thank you for your message. To answer your questions,
    Chuo Taxi to the Jigokudani (Snow Monkey) Park trailhead, from where? Nagano Station? Approx. 1 hour. If there is snow present on the trail (taxi driver can probably tell you), I suggest stopping at a hardware store and pick up the cheapest pair of rubber boots you can find, and using them for your hike even if you end up having to throw them away afterwards.
    For an English-speaking shukubo, try Tokugyoubou, http://www.zenkoji-tokugyoubou.com/
    Have fun, and say ‘hi’ to the snow monkeys for me!
    -Tyler

  22. Tyler says:

    Peter-san, Katie-san, Follow-up comment to your inquiry here. There is a new rental apartment now near Nagano City,
    Holiday Apartment Nagano in Chikuma City(Northern Nagano; between Ueda and Nagano City) has been just opened in Sep.2013.
    We started to accept reservations. Please contact us.
    Junko Terasawa
    See https://www.facebook.com/HolidayApartNagano

  23. Andy says:

    Thanks Tyler,

    This is really fast response!. Appreciate your help and will tell the monkeys you sent me! Haha

  24. Deborah Fong says:

    Thanks Tyler.
    Your help is much appreciated!

  25. Jeremy says:

    Is december a good time to visit nagano?
    and if we stay in udanaka, how far is that from the monkey place? and are there any issues getting to any of the other nature attractions in december because of the snow?

  26. Tyler says:

    Jeremy-san, Thank you for your inquiry.
    Yudanaka Onsen is approx. a 30 minute walk to the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park trailhead. Or there are local busses, taxis, and/or your place of lodging may provide free shuttle service. From the trailhead, it is a 30 minute walk through a beautiful evergreen forest to the park entrance.
    Regarding Nagano in December, if you don’t like cold and/or the chance of snow, then December is not a good time to visit Nagano. As far as other nature attractions with snow, I suppose it depends on your point of view. Many of the attractions are enhanced with a pristine layer of snow on them. The monkeys look extra adorable bathing in the onsen with their heads dusted with snow — hence their “snow monkeys” nickname. Public transportation manages fine in all but the heaviest snow storms. In fact, there is even more frequent bus service from Nagano Station to the monkey park trailhead (=Kambayashi) in the winter, as those busses continue up to the ski areas at Shiga Kogen. That’s something else you may consider — embracing the snow by going skiing, like most other people who visit Nagano in the winter.
    I’m not sure if this answers your concerns. If you have more specific questions, I’d be happy to provide more specific answers.
    Best of Luck!

  27. qing says:

    hello:
    I enjoy reading your blog! can you please help me with my questions, we are traveling from 27th December from nagoya to Hakuba for 3-4 nights stay (for ski), then hoping to move to Nozawa onsen for 2 nights (ski + onsen), before returning to Tokyo to stay.
    1) is Christmas-NewYear a quiet time for the ski area, with fewer transport, less crowd and fewer options for dining?
    2) the easiest way to transfer from Hakuba to Nozawa (with JR pass if possible); then from Nozawa to Tokyo
    3) is it easier or better to visit Monkey Park during our stay in Hakuba or in Nozawa (day trip)
    4) which area provide more activities during raining/non-ski days? Hakuba or Nozawa?
    Arigato in advance!!!
    Qing

  28. Tyler says:

    Qing-san,
    Thanks for your inquiry. To answer your questions,
    1) Christmas is pretty much a normal day around here, but many restaurants do close the first few days of January for the New Years Holiday. If your place of accommodation serves food, it might be wise to plan on having meals at your hotel or inn those days.
    2) Hakuba to Nozawa would be Hakuba to to Nagano Station (1 hour 15 min. by bus or 3 hours by JR train via Matsumoto), then Nagano Station to Nozawa Onsen (1 hour 15 min. by bus or 60 min by JR train to Togari Nozawa Onsen Station + approx. 20 min. local bus). Tokyo to Nozawa Onsen would be 2 hour 30 min. JR shinkansen to Nagano Station plus the train and/or bus on to Nozawa as per above.
    3) During the winter, there are outfits that offer day trips to see the snow monkeys from both Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen, with more frequent service from Hakuba.
    4) Both Hakuba and Nozawa have a variety of off-day activities, such as onsen-hopping at Nozawa Onsen and soba noodle making at Hakuba. And/or, you may want to consider doing the snow monkey tour on an off day.
    I hope these answers are helpful. If any other questions, feel free to ask!

  29. qing says:

    thank you TylerSan!!!

  30. Bron says:

    Hi Tyler,
    We are coming to see the snow monkeys in early January (2, 3 or 4) 2014. We will come via Nagano, Kanbayashi and walk in from there. We also want to see Shibu Onsen. Is it possible to walk from the monkey park to Shibu in the middle of the day at that time of year? We will have snow boots and can wear ski gear for warmth. If it is possible what route do we take and what should we see along the way? We are a family of 5 (parents and 17, 15 and 12 year old) all quite fit.

  31. Tyler says:

    Bron-san, Thank you for your message. To answer your question, yes it is possible to walk down to Shibu Onsen from Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park. From the park, cross the river and follow the path down to the parking lot, approx. 15 minutes. From the lot, which is closed for the winter, following the windy car road down (approx. 30 minutes?) will take you to Shibu Onsen. Besides the river, evergreen forest, and signs of hot spring mineral water activity there isn’t anything to stop and see until you get to Shibu. But Shibu, with its narrow, cobblestone streets lined with classic 3-story wooden ryokans and footbaths, is worth the trek. Please note that many shops close for New Years the first few days of January. Have fun!

  32. Deborah Fong says:

    Hi,

    After our visit to the monkey park, are there taxis or bus to go to Shibu Onsen?
    I read that there is an origami store there. My son is an origami fan. where is it and how do we get there?

    Thanks!

  33. Tyler says:

    Deborah-san, Howdy! Snow monkeys and origami, eh? Sounds fun. Maybe you can make a snow monkey out of origami!
    Anyways, to answer your questions,

    Transportation from Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park to Shibu Onsen:
    On weekends and holidays during the winter, Shibu Onsen operates a shuttle bus, http://www.town.yamanouchi.nagano.jp/asset/00032/site_shared/loveyama/ibento/minibus2013-2014e.pdf
    Otherwise you can walk down to Kanbayashi Onsen and take a public bus to Shibu (approx. 10 min. + 30 min. walk to Kanbayashi)
    or if you are more adventuresome, you can cross the river from the monkey park and walk down all the way to Shibu, approx. 45 min.

    Origami at Shibu: Here is one place — http://www.torazo.net/english_top.html

    Have Fun!

    -Tyler

  34. Deborah Fong says:

    Hi Tyler,

    Thanks very much for your fast response! We’re so excited!

    Deborah

  35. Richard says:

    Hi Tyler san,
    Need your advise. I will be in Osaka and plan to go to Ryokan Hakura (Yudanaka Onsen) to stay for 2 nights.

    Your advise on travel (by train):
    1. Osaka – Tokyo – Yudanaka?
    2. Osaka – Yudanaka (is there a clear route)

    So the question is if you where to leave from Osaka, which is the best and fastest route.

  36. Tyler says:

    Richard-san,
    You’re coming to stay at Hakura, eh? I’m sure Shino-chan the proprietress will take good care of you. She is a hospitality advisor for the entire prefecture!
    Anyways, to answer your question, one thing it depends on is if you have a JR Rail Pass or not.
    Here are some options:
    Osaka -(Shinkansen)- Tokyo -(Shinkansen)- Nagano -(Nagaden Train*)- Yudanaka. Takes 5-1/2 hours and 20,030 yen, or JR Rail Pass + 1,230 yen. Suggested if you like riding shinkansens and enjoy seeing Tokyo’s concrete jungle sprawl (with possible view of Mt. Fuji on the way).
    Osaka -(Shinkansen)- Nagoya -(JR Ltd. Exp. “Shinano”)- Nagano -(Nagaden Train*)- Yudanaka. Takes 5 and 11,930 yen, or JR Rail Pass + 1,230 yen. “Shinano” travels up the scenic Kiso River Valley. Views of the Northern Alps around Matsumoto. (Perhaps stop there to see the castle?)
    There are highway busses that run from Osaka to Nagano, even one direct to Yudanaka (http://www.nagadenbus.co.jp/highway_ex/osaka_new.html), but the service isn’t as frequent (Osaka-Yudanaka bus is once per day) and would take longer.
    Have fun, and say ‘Hi’ to Shino-chan for me.

  37. Mark says:

    Tyler-san,

    I’m planning a trip to see the snow monkeys but I want to makes sure I go when it’s snowing or there’s snow on the ground.

    How long into the year does snow still fall? February, March? Ideally I’d like to see the snow monkeys when it’s snowing.

  38. Tyler says:

    Mark-san, Thank you for your interest in the Snow Monkeys. Of course, snow adds a lot to their charm, but unfortunately there is no way to guarantee snow. Some winters it is spotty. Some springs there is late snow (in 2013, we had a huge snowfall on April 21st!). The monkey park website has a live camera so you can check snow conditions ahead of time: http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam/monkey/index.htm. FYI, we have people passing through all year round to go see the snow monkeys. Even in the middle of summer, they take literally hundreds of pictures ‘cuz the monkeys are adorable even without snow.

  39. Tricia says:

    Hi, my husband, myself and my 7+ year old daughter will be staying 2 nights at Karuizawa in March and I am thinking of bringing our daughter to see the snow monkeys. I intend to buy the 3 day Kanto JR pass to get from Tokyo to and from Karuizawa. Can you tell me what’s the best way to get to the Snow monkeys? Train from Karuizawa to Nagano followed by bus or is there a more direct way? Thanks! Tricia

  40. Tyler says:

    Tricia-san,
    Thank you for your inquiry. Karuizawa + Snow Monkeys, eh? Sounds like a fun plan. As for getting to the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park from Karuizawa, there may be a more direct way as the bird flies (or the monkey runs), for humans the fastest way is as you say — take the Shinkansen from K’zawa to Nagano Station (approx. 34 min.) and bus bound for Shiga Kogen to Kanbayashi (approx. 45 min.), followed by a 30 minute walk.
    Please say ‘hi’ to the monkeys for me!

  41. Stefania says:

    Hi, we are planning to stay in Matsumoto to see the castle but we would also like to visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park, how do we get there from Matsumoto ? Where do I find timetables and how long does it takes?
    Thanks
    Stefania

  42. Tyler says:

    Stefania-san, Visiting the snow monkeys from Matsumoto can be done as a daytrip, but it would make for a pretty full day. Basically it involves taking a train or highway bus to Nagano City, then train + local bus or express bus to Kanbayashi. From Kanbayashi, it is a 30-minute walk through a lovely evergreen forest to the monkey park. Fastest option is express train between ‘Moto and Nagano (50 minutes, hourly service — you can get train times at http://www.hyperdia.com) and express bus bound for Shiga Kogen stopping at Kanbayashi (45 min., 4 runs per day, http://www.nagadenbus.co.jp/robus/2014natsu/kyuko_s.htm). I hope you enjoy Matsumoto as well as the monkey park!

  43. Rohaizad says:

    Hi Tyler, thank you for taking time to provide all the useful information found here. I am considering staying at your Ryokan based on all the good reviews. However, I have no idea how close it is to the Snow Monkey park and which train station do you normally receive your guests from (those who requests for this service)

    I will be travelling from Tokyo to Nagoya on the Kodam (hoping to get the Puratta Kodama discount) and intend to stop by to say hello to the monkeys before carrying on to Osaka. We have a four year old travelling with us and two huge suitcases so looking for a Ryokan that can maybe get us from Yudanaka. Is the train service between Nagano and Yudanaka luggage friendly?

  44. Tyler says:

    Rohaizad-san,

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    To answer your questions,

    If you think of it as a clock face,

    Nagano City (and by extension, Yudanaka and the snow monkeys) are around 1:00.
    Togura-Kamiyamada Onsen (where our inn is located) is around 2:00.
    Tokyo is around 5:00.
    Nagoya is around 8:00.

    In going to the snow monkeys in between Tokyo and Nagoya, I highly suggest giving up on the Puratta Kodama option and taking the Nagano Shinkansen, seeing the snow monkeys, then taking the JR Ltd. Express “Shinano” from Nagano Station to Nagoya. (The “Shinano” route is very scenic, passing Matsumoto with vistas of the Northern Alps along the way then following the picturesque Kiso River Valley before arriving at Nagoya.)

    It is conceivable to make such a trip in 1 day, but since there are so many great ryokans and onsen baths in Nagano, I highly suggest spending a night. Considering the luggage issue, 2 suggestions:

    1. (Staying at Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen) Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano, change to Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka. Many inns at Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen provide pick-up at Yudanaka Station (including luggage) as well as drop-off at the trailhead to the monkey park. After spending the night and seeing the monkeys, take Nagano Dentetsu back to Nagano Station, change to JR Ltd. Express “Shinano” to Nagoya.

    2. (Staying at Togura-Kamiyamada Onsen where our inn is located) Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo to Ueda, change to local Shinano Railway 4 stations to Togura. Most inns at Togura-Kamiyamada (including ours) provide free pick-up, including luggage. After spending the night, get dropped off at Togura Station, take the local Shinano Railway 25 min. to Nagano Station, leave your luggage in a coin locker, take the bus or train/bus to Kanbayashi (monkey park trailhead). After seeing the monkeys, retrace your steps back to Nagano Station, pick up your luggage and take the JR Ltd. Express to Nagoya.

    I hope these suggestions are helpful. If any other questions, feel free to ask!

  45. Imran says:

    Hello Tyler,

    It’s been great to read all of the comments above. My partner and I are traveling to japan late October to early November and would like to see the snow monkeys as well as doing some skiing while in the area. We could probably stay in the area for 2 to 3 nights to do this. I wanted to hire a car as well while there so we can get around easily from the monkey park to the ski areas as well as the accommodation in between. I’ve heard the best way is to take a train from Tokyo but don’t really know how to exactly achieve this and which areas to go, how to hire a suitable car etc.. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Imran (from Australia)

  46. Tyler says:

    Imran-san,

    Howdy! Thank you for your inquiry, and your interest in skiing and the snow monkey park. Train to Nagano City is quick and convenient (if a bit pricey, there are highway bus options too for less expense). Renting a car at Nagano Station would give you good flexibility to access Jigokudani (the snow monkey park) and the ski slopes at nearby Shiga Kogen. Many inns to stay at in Shibu-Yudanaka Onsen and/or ski lodges up at Shiga. Car rental info at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2024.html. Have fun!

  47. Sherry says:

    This is very helpful! Thank you Tyler!!

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