Hello there, Come December, I’ll be traveling as a family with young kids for some winter fun and enjoy the places of interest at Nagano. Would appreciate your thoughts on: How many days I should set aside? If I were to stay in the Happo One ski village throughout my time in Nagano, would it be inconvenient to visit places like snow monkey park, alpine route, Matsumoto, just to name a few? Any kids-friendly resort/hotel to recommend? Looking forward to your reply. Thanks, KW
There are plenty of things to do in the Nagano area during winter that you may be interested in. To experience the most of Nagano and the winter season, I would recommend at least 4 days in the area. Below are a variety of winter activities that you can try nearby:
- Bathing in Hot Springs
- Visiting the Snow Monkeys (Yamanouchi)
- Going Snowmobiling (Hakuba, Shigakogen)
- Visiting Zenkoji temple (Nagano City)
- Snowshoeing (Hakuba, Various)
- Skiing/Snowboarding (Hakuba)
- Visiting Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto City)
- Making Soba (Matsumoto City)
*Unfortunately, the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is not open during winter (season is mid-April onward).*
The Hakuba area is connected to Nagano City by bus (approx. 60 min.) and Matsumoto City by local and express train (approx. 65 to 90 min.).
The Snow Monkey Park is quite far away from Hakuba, and in total you will spend at least 2 hours and 45 minutes traveling there. (Bus to Nagano City, Nagano Dentetsu train or bus line to Yamanouchi, Kanbayashi Bus to Snow Monkey Park stop, 30 min. walk to park.) However, some companies offer tours from ski resort areas directly to the park, like this snow monkey/snowmobile combo tour from Hakuba Lion Adventures, so it’s not too inconvenient.
As for resorts and hotels, it’s difficult for us to officially recommend one hotel over another, so we can only offer you our accommodations page.
I hope that answers your question. Let me know if I can help you with anything else!
Thanks for getting in touch.
I think my itinerary is taking shape. Could you comment if the below makes travel sense.
I will first be doing a Tokyo – Kyoto – Nagoya (as a transition into Nagano) then settle in at Hakuba.
Staying in Hakuba
Day 1 (Dec 20) – arriving Hakuba’s Happo One in the late afternoon.
Days 2 and 3 (Dec 21 and 22)- skiing
Staying in Nagano City
Day 4 – (Dec 23) leave Hakuba for Nagano city, visit Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Dori Street, Nakamachi Street
Day 5 – (Dec 24) Snow Monkey Park, Shibu Onsen
Day 6 – (Dec 25) Matsushiro Street, head back to Tokyo at 5pm to catch the midnight flight home.
Hear from you soon, Blair.
Your schedule looks good to me!
On Day 4 (Dec. 23), I guess that you will take the Oito line train to Matsumoto City, see its sights, then take the Shinonoi line to Nagano City? That sounds like a good plan to me!
It looks like you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy Nagano’s beautiful sights. Definitely while you’re in Nagano City, don’t forget to visit Zenkoji! In Japan, it’s considered a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives.
If you have any other questions about Nagano, please let me know.