Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano

Monkeys enjoy  natural hot springs at Snow Monkey Park.
Monkeys enjoy natural hot springs at Snow Monkey Park.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 8, winter light up event in Kanazawa.

On 6th day, I dropped by Nagano on the way to Tokyo to see snow monkey. I have been to Nagano many times. But actually it was the first time to visit snow monkey park. I would like to show how I accessed there.

Trip by Shinkansen from Kanazawa to Nagano

Kanazawa 8:42 (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 506) 09:20 Nagano

Before taking Shinkansen to Nagano, I walked around Kanazawa station. When Hokuriku Shinkansen opened, Kanazawa station was completely renovated. Especially at east gate, there is the huge gate and it welcomes the tourists.

2016 winter Japan trip 872

2016 winter Japan trip 877

I took the fastest train on Hokuriku Shinkansen, “Kagayaki”.

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Before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened, Nagano is not accessible from Kanazawa. There was no direct trains and need to take local train or rapid train on some segments. But Hokuriku Shinkansen changed this situation drastically. Now we can get Nagano from Kanazawa within one hour by direct fast train service, Hokuriku Shinkansen.

By the way, there are some kinds of trains on Hokuriku Shinkansen. If you go to Nagano or Tokyo, you will take Kagayaki or Hakutaka. But Hakutaka stops at most of stations and Kagayaki stops at only major stations, like Toyama, Nagano, Omiya. Kagayaki is the best way to move to Nagano or Tokyo.

If the weather is good, you can enjoy the scenery between Toyama and Itoigawa. When you travel to Nagano or Tokyo from Kanazawa or Toyama, you may see Tateyama mountains on your right and coast line on your left.

I reserved left side but  weather was not perfect to see the coast line.
I reserved left side but weather was not perfect to see the coast line.

You can choose the seat when you book.

Trip by Nagaden bus from Nagano to Snow Monkey Park

Nagano 10:15 (Nagaden Express Bus) 10:55 Snow Monkey Park

I arrived at Nagano on time.

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Before I took a bus to Snow Monkey Park, I exit JR Nagano station from west side, “Zenkoji exit”.

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And I dropped by Nagano Railway (a.k.a. “Nagaden”) Nagano station because I wanted to purchase Snow Monkey Pass there. There are lots of signage and you can find the direction quickly.

Nagano Railway Nagano station is located underground.
Nagano Railway Nagano station is located underground.
Nagano Railway Nagano station ticket gate.
Nagano Railway Nagano station ticket gate.

I bought the pass at the window. It is located beside the ticket gate.

2016 winter Japan trip 931

2016 winter Japan trip 933

This pass is sold at 2,900 yen and it includes round trip fare and admission to enter Snow Monkey Park. It is way cheaper than regular fare. I strongly recommend to use this pass.

There are two ways to get Snow Monkey Park. Express bus is one of these ways and it is the easiest way to get there. I got on the bus on the way and took train and bus way on the way back.

After I purchased pass, I moved to other side of station by the underground path. It connects bus stops at east side and Nagano Railway Nagano station directly. I did not need to go back to JR station.

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Snow Monkey Park is very popular in these days. There was a big line up to wait for the bus. There were many staffs to take care of travelers from oversea.

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The bus departed from Nagano station with many passengers. It was almost full.

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I disembarked at Snow Monkey Park bus stop. Bus was a bit behind the schedule. It arrived there 5 minutes late.

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This bus stop is 15 minutes away from trail head to Snow Monkey Park. There were some signage but you may not find the direction when you get off the bus.

After getting off the bus, you have to go up the hill to get the train head.
After getting off the bus, you have to go up the hill to get the train head.
There are some signage to show the direction.
There are some signage to show the direction.

I walked on the paved road until I got the trail head. It was not steep but I walked up to the hill.

2016 winter Japan trip 943

There were not much snow on the trail but it was so slippery on the trail. I put on the winter boots. If you want to visit there in winter time, you should have winter boots or hiking shoes.

2016 winter Japan trip 944

I got the trail head and then walked on the trail in the forest. But the trail was almost flat.

2016 winter Japan trip 947

2016 winter Japan trip 951

2016 winter Japan trip 949

2016 winter Japan trip 948

I walked another 20 minutes on this trail. But I walked super super fast because I had only 1 hour 20 minutes. It usually takes at least 30 minutes from trail head to Snow Monkey Park.

Visit Snow Monkey Park

I could see some monkeys before I entered Snow Monkey Park.

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The source of hot spring was located on the way to the park.
The source of hot spring was located on the way to the park.

I got the entrance. There are washroom and lockers at the entrance.

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And then I saw many monkeys and some of them were in hot springs. You may have seen this kind of photo before.

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Some monkeys did not want to take a bath. They were hanging around the stream.

2016 winter Japan trip 972

But it was cold and they stayed like this.

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Trip by bus and train from Snow Monkey Park to Nagano

Snow Monkey Park 12:20 (Nagaden local bus) 12:35 Yudanaka 13:18 (Nagano Railway Limited Express “Snow Monkey”) 14:04 Nagano

I almost ran to go back to the bus stop. Please do not copy my trip schedule. All part of my trip was crazy busy. But this part of trip, visiting Snow Monkey Park was extremely crazy. You should have minimum 2 hours for visiting Snow Monkey Park. Don’t try to visit there in 1.5 hour!

Anyway I got back to the bus stop and took a bus to Yudanaka station at this time. The bus was very common local bus. I got Yudanaka station on time.

Bus stop is located at the other side of the road.
Bus stop is located at the other side of the road.

2016 winter Japan trip 985

Nagano Railway Yudanaka station
Nagano Railway Yudanaka station
The bench in Yudanaka station was made by many skies.
The bench in Yudanaka station was made by many skies.

If I spent another 30 minutes, I could take express bus to Nagano station directly. This was easier and faster. But I wanted to try another way to go back to Nagano. This was reason why I could have only 1 hour 20 minutes there.

From Yudanaka station, I took Nagano Railway’s limited express train. This train is called “Snow Monkey”. I am sure that some of you may have seen this train.

2016 winter Japan trip 994

This train set is a former Narita Express. It used to run between Tokyo and Narita Airport. When this fleet retired from Narita Express, some of train sets were sent to Nagano Railway. Exterior is almost same. And interior is almost same too.

Snow Monkey logo is on the side of train. It is the biggest difference from original Narita Express.
Snow Monkey logo is on the side of train. It is the biggest difference from original Narita Express.

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2016 winter Japan trip 1002

If you take this train by base fare, you need to pay express surcharge. But Snow Monkey Pass includes surcharge too. By the way, if you take local train, the interior is totally different. It is very common commute train.

Interior of local train
Interior of local train

I enjoyed this X-JR train ride for one hour to Nagano.

Continue to the post, Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 10, Trip from Nagano to Tokyo and taking Sunrise Seto

21 thoughts on “Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 9, Visit Snow Monkey Park in Nagano”

  1. Hi Takeshi -san,
    I would like to go from Yudanaka to Toomi no yu Onsen after seeing the snow monkeys. Do you know a bus that could take me to this Onsen? and how long that would take?

  2. Hi Takeshi San,

    We are going to take the JR from Tokyo to Nagano with the JR Pass and then check into our hotel near there. From there we will purchase the 1 day Snow Monkey Pass and go to the Park. After, we were thinking of going to Shibu Onsen to walk along that street or try the onsen, is this covered by the 1 day pass and is it possible to go there before going back to Nagano? Thank you

      1. Hi Takeshi San,
        Thank you very much, we will make sure to arrive at the Snow Monkey Park by noon. From the Park, is it the same bus going back that we take to stop at Shibu Onsen or do we have to walk to go there?

        1. Hi Ally san,

          The fastest way to get Snow Monkey Park is express bus from Nagano station. This bus does not stop at Shibu onsen. You need to take a local bus to Yudanaka onsen. You will take same way as my trip.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi there,
    I was wondering if the snow monkeys will be around the time period 11/10/17?
    We are traveling from Tokyo to Takayama and trying to decide whether a side trip to the snow monkey park is worth it ? How long will it take to travel to?

    1. Hi MT,

      Monkeys are around there all year round. But in November, this place may not have snow yet. And if the weather is not much cold, monkeys will not be in the hot springs.

      If you go to this place from Takayama, you need to take train to Toyama, and then take Shinkansen to Nagano. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get Nagano from Takayama. After Nagano, you may find the info in the post above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san,

    I am wondering if the Snow Monkey 1-day Pass covers the bus from Snow Monkey Park to Iiyama Station? I’ve just recently booked Restaurant Kamakura Igloo Village in Shinanodaira and trying to figure out the fastest route to Iiyama Station. My family and I also will have JR Passes. Please advise. Thanks!

  5. Sorry one last question. When I arrive off the express bus to monkey park is their some place for luggage storage before the hiking starts? As I will have luggage from Tokyo. I prefer not to go to accommodation first if possible as it bit of waste of time.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Nichola san,

      I have heard that small shop at the trail head hold the luggage at 500 yen per bag. There is no lockers and stores around bus stop. I recommend you to take backpack. Suitcase is not recommended.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Wow. Thank you very much. This information is very helpful to me and pictures really help!!

    My plan is to travel from Tokyo early morning and catch 9.05 express bus to Snow Monkey Park. After monkey park I will check in to my accommodations in Yudanaka and visit Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen. The following morning I will take train from Yudanaka back to Nagano.

    Is there any discount pass to cover this since I will not complete journey in one day? Or do I need to pay for bus, monkey park and train separately?

    PS – Maybe if I have time in afternoon after monkey park I was thinking I could visit Obuse. Is this to tight in schedule? I will not have time on next morning as have to get back to Tokyo.

    Your help is greatly appreciated.!

    1. Hi Nichola,

      You can use Nagaden two days pass. The price is 3200 yen to cover trains and buses. But it does not include admission of Snow Monkey Park. There is no English info available of this pass. I just put the link in Japanese just in case. You can buy it at same place in Nagano station. You can show this Japanese PDF in the window and can get it easier.
      http://www.nagaden-net.co.jp/common/docs/info/ticket/free2days.pdf

      I think you can make Obuse after Snow Monkey Park. You can use this pass to take train to Obuse too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much Takeshi-san. I assume that this will cover any buses between Snow Monkey Park and Yudanaka etc so it will still be worthwhile to get this pass. I will print out the PDF so I can show at the counter. Really helpful!! Thank you. 🙂

  7. Hi Takeshi-San, what’s the monkey park like in Aug? It’s worth to visit as I may have to squeeze in while travelling matsumoto.
    Cheese

      1. Thanks again Takeshi-san. It saves a lot of trouble. I also asked you about 現美新幹線before, wherether its covered by JR pass or not, the infor I’ve found are all about how nice of the train without any timetables. maybe I missed you reply.
        cheese

          1. Sorry Takeshi-San, I missed it by not applied the return by mail column and lost the link.
            I may have asked you countless questions and you always reply patiently and promptly . I really appreciate that.
            Thanks again Takeshi-San.

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