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
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.
I took the fastest train on Hokuriku Shinkansen, “Kagayaki”.
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.
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.
Before I took a bus to Snow Monkey Park, I exit JR Nagano station from west side, “Zenkoji exit”.
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.
I bought the pass at the window. It is located beside the ticket gate.
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.
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.
The bus departed from Nagano station with many passengers. It was almost full.
I disembarked at Snow Monkey Park bus stop. Bus was a bit behind the schedule. It arrived there 5 minutes late.
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.
I walked on the paved road until I got the trail head. It was not steep but I walked up to the hill.
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.
I got the trail head and then walked on the trail in the forest. But the trail was almost flat.
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.
I got the entrance. There are washroom and lockers at the entrance.
And then I saw many monkeys and some of them were in hot springs. You may have seen this kind of photo before.
Some monkeys did not want to take a bath. They were hanging around the stream.
But it was cold and they stayed like this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I enjoyed this X-JR train ride for one hour to Nagano.